FSC-20007 - Forensic Anthropology and Taphonomy
Coordinator: Vivienne Heaton Tel: +44 1782 7 33115
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 30
Study Hours: 300
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This module will focus on the examination of the human skeleton in a forensic context. It aims to provide knowledge and understanding of how variation in the human skeleton can be used for identification purposes in criminal, disaster and accident scenarios. Students will also gain knowledge and understanding of the processes involved in decomposition, the variables that influence it, and how the postmortem interval can be determined. They will learn of the importance of insect evidence at a death scene, including how to collect, preserve and analyse it, as well as the skills needed to recover human remains out in the field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Describe and explain the postmortem process of human decomposition and calculate time of death for human remains based on it's progression: 1,2,3
Identify and describe modifications which are the result of human vs. non-human agents or environmental and intrinsic factors: 1,2
Critically evaluate the current methods used to analyse decomposed remains and propose future research to further our knowledge: 2
Identify species of insects most frequently found at crime scenes and explain how their behaviour and development can be used to reconstruct events postmortem and determine time of death: 1
Identify side and name individual bones of the skeleton and the landmarks upon them: 3
Evaluate and use a number of analytical techniques in order to accurately determine age, sex, stature and ancestry of the victim: 1,3
Identify and examine signs of trauma, differentiating between antemortem, perimortem and postmortem modification to bone: 1,3
Critically assess and successfully implement appropriate search and recovery methods for scattered and buried human remains: 1,2

Study hours

Lectures: 40 hours
Labs and workshops: 50 hours
Fieldwork: 6 hours
Assessment Q&A Sessions: 4 hours
Independent study and assessment completion: 200 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Portfolio weighted 40%
Case Studies Portfolio
A portfolio consisting of two case studies, with each case covering a different scenario where decomposed or skeletal remains have been recovered. The final portfolio will be 1500-2000 words in total and completed during the course of the academic year.

2: Assignment weighted 30%
Research Proposal
Students will write a 2500 word research proposal describing an experiment or study in forensic taphonomy that they would like to undertake

3: Assignment weighted 30%
Forensic Anthropology Report
Students will write a 2500 word report for a mock forensic anthropology case