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MSc Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

Forensic Anthropology is a division of biological anthropology that is concerned with the analysis of human skeletal remains from forensic contexts, whilst Forensic Archaeology encompasses the application of archaeological principles and methods, within the constraints and framework of the criminal justice system.

You can select one of two specialist award titles: 

  • MSc Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology (Osteology) 
  • MSc Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology (Search & Recovery) 

These two subjects function as complementary areas of expertise in investigations of human remains encountered in modern contexts relating particularly to crime, conflict, human rights violations, and disasters. During recent years international investigations of disasters, human rights violations and genocide have brought a growing demand for skilled practitioners who can contribute towards the recovery and identification of unknown victims and the determination of the cause of their deaths. Such skills have also been increasingly utilised to identify and investigate human remains recovered from forensic contexts relating to domestic criminal activity, particularly in North America, but with a steady growth in recognition globally. 

Core to the course is the understanding of legal issues and constraints, management and process of the investigative system and the professional skills enabling evidence to be presented to the Courts. You will also cover the post mortem fate of human remains, the location and recovery of skeletonised remains and the adaptation and application of biological anthropology to the context of individuals, rather than sample populations.

Our course places particular relevance on interpretation of injury and postmortem events with emphasis given to the archaeological recovery of human remains rather than taking a view that analysis begins when remains reach the laboratory. Our graduates will to be able to make confident assertions regarding the recognition and initial assessment of human remains in the field. In addition, you'll gain a wide range of transferable skills including report writing, team working, professional communication and presentation skills, expert witness training and contemporaneous recording.

Both the two specialist routes on this degree derive from the experience of archaeologists and anthropologists who practice both nationally and internationally and address the needs identified by Police services, The UK Forensic Regulator, the UN and other international identification agencies. You can choose to specialise either in osteological or archaeological investigations.

Chat with a student on this course

Key information

Next start date:

September 2021, September 2022


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


12 months full-time, 2 years part-time


The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences

Required subjects:

Archaeology, Forensic Science, Forensic Investigation, Biological Sciences or Biological Anthropology

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in a required subject or equivalent

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

General entry requirements


Forensic archaeology is an expanding international field. Upon completion of the course you will join other BU graduates who are acknowledged as some of the most experienced forensic archaeologists in the field.

This will open up a wide range of career prospects for you, and you could end up work anywhere in the world examining crime scenes, mass graves & disasters and educating other researchers in new forensic science approaches.

Your application

Costs and fees

You can find full information about the deposits required and how to pay your fees in our postgraduate fees and funding section, including details of the Postgraduate Loan (subject to fee status).

All fees are quoted in pounds sterling and are per annum. Fees quoted are for tuition only unless stated otherwise. Your tuition fees will be the same for each year of your course.

Find out more about living expenses for postgraduate students

Our staff

On this course you will be taught by staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This could include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners and research students, many of whom are actively engaged in research and/or professional practice which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Please note that teaching staff can change.

Hear from our staff

Dr Martin Smith

What we are most proud of is the way our past students have gone on to make a difference in the world in a wide range of roles and locations both here in the UK and internationally.

What our graduates think

Amit Sarkar

Whilst at BU I gained many skills, such as the ability to apply a high degree of academic rigour to the content and quality of police reports required for court.

Statistics shown throughout this page are taken from Unistats and BU institutional data unless otherwise stated.