Taught course

Human Bioarchaeology and Palaeopathology

Durham University · Department of Archaeology

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class (2:1) degree or equivalent; GPA of 3.3 or above.

One satisfactory academic reference is required. There is no specific deadline for applications. Applications for any given academic year must be received before the start of that academic year.

All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa. A £500 deposit is also payable by Home applicants if an offer of a place from the Department of Archaeology is accepted.

Months of entry


Course content

This MSc, offering a holistic view of the body and society in the study and interpretation of research into human remains, is unique in the academic world and will prepare you for a fascinating career in professional archaeology or in further research into this vitally important area.

You will learn about the role of the human skeleton as one of the most important sources of evidence for understanding the past as a result of its active relationship with the social, mental and physical nature of living in a particular environment and at a particular time in history.

Taking a hands-on, highly practical approach to learning, the course provides the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge through a carefully designed blend of lectures, seminars and laboratory-based work where the focus is on osteoprofiling as well as health and disease.

As you progress through the course, learning methods and activities become more complex as your ability and experience around osteoprofiling and health and disease develop. You will have the opportunity to follow the direction that interests you most, and you will be able to demonstrate how your skills and knowledge have grown in your chosen field through your contact with an engaged and enthusiastic academic team.

You will learn to understand the world in which people live now and lived in the past. You will be a key part of a vibrant and committed bioarchaeology community with world-leading resources and facilities and will be ready to take your knowledge and turn it into a rewarding career anywhere in the world.

Core modules

Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science provides a high level of understanding of research methods, study and presentation skills in archaeological science, covering areas such as research ethics, writing and presentation skills, research designs and research application, computing and statistics.

Osteoprofiling equips you with knowledge of the 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.

Palaeopathology: Theory and Method provides an understanding of what paleopathology is in the context of the rest of archaeological study and develops the skills required to record and diagnose pathological human bone. You will receive extensive practical experience recording a wide variety of pathological conditions in real human skeletal remains.

Dissertation in which you will carry out research and develop and display your skills and knowledge in a particular subject area. You will familiarise yourself with published literature on a specific topic, develop a research design, collect and evaluate data and then write and present your dissertation.

You will also choose one option module from the following:

  • Current Themes in Human Bioarchaeology
  • Isotopic and Biomolecular Archaeology
  • Research Topics in 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

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions