Taught course

Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology

Durham University · Department of Archaeology

Entry requirements

Candidates are expected to have a minimum of a 2.1 degree or equivalent. You might have a UG degree in Archaeology, Anthropology, Forensic or Crime Scene Science. However, students from a wide variety of backgrounds are admitted, including students with undergraduate degrees in Natural and Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geography, as well Classics and History.

IELTS 7.0 or above with no component below 6.5; TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test) 102 or above (with no component below 25).

Months of entry


Course content

This fascinating MSc, with its strong international humanitarian focus and alignment with UN sustainability goals of peace and justice, equips you with the skills and knowledge to work or carry out research in the sensitive, and at times, highly emotive, field of forensic archaeology and anthropology. The course is informed by innovative work carried out by researchers in the Department of Archaeology.

Taking a hands-on approach to learning, this intensive course gives you the opportunity to experience activities such as the extensive analysis of human skeletal remains and get involved in a range of mock scenarios including excavating ‘mass graves’ and creating osteoprofiles as well as mock courtroom experiences when you will serve as an expert witness.

We curate an extensive human skeletal collection in the Department, and you will receive access to the human bone laboratory for independent study. You will also gain experience in a range of biomolecular techniques of analysis in state-of-the-art research facilities that include laboratories in DNA, conservation, isotope analysis, environmental archaeology, luminescence dating, paleopathology and bone chemistry.

You will learn how to apply this knowledge and these techniques to different forensic scenarios and acquire the grounding to perform further research in forensic archaeology and anthropology or achieve a rewarding professional career, either within forensics or elsewhere.

Core modules

Research Skills in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology gives you the opportunity to develop an advanced understanding of key concepts, research methods, study and presentation skills in forensic archaeology and anthropology and has some overlap with the Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science module. Other lectures are specific to the forensic element of the module including the ethics and legislative requirements of forensic archaeology, frameworks of standardisation of practice, specialist report writing and formulating forensic strategies.

Osteoprofiling studies normal anatomy and physiology of the skeleton so you will learn to recognise abnormal anatomy and become familiar with basic methods of analysis relevant for human and osteology. You will receive extensive practical experience in constructing an osteological profile.

Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology: Theory and Practice focuses on forensic archaeology and anthropology within a global humanitarian forensic context, including examples of genocide, disaster victim identification, and refugee crises. You will also develop practical skills in the laboratory and during a simulated 'mass grave' location and excavation exercise.

The Dissertation is an opportunity for you to carry out research and demonstrate research skills in a particular area of the course of your choice. Under the guidance of your assigned dissertation supervisor, you will familiarise yourself with published literature on a specific topic, develop a research design, collect data and draw conclusions.

You will also choose one option module from the following:

  • Palaeopathology: Theory and Method
  • Isotopic and Biomolecular Archaeology

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions