MSc Biomedical Egyptology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course description

Our distance learning programme in Biomedical Egyptology is the first course of its kind to offer the opportunity to combine the study of ancient Egypt with modern biomedical techniques in a format you can study at your own pace.

If you have an interest in ancient peoples and civilisations and wish to understand more about their anatomy, disease and medicine, this course is for you. You will learn how to unravel the enthralling secrets of ancient history using the latest technology

The course is delivered by members of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology , an internationally-leading research centre with a long history in applying technologies such as imaging, nucleic acid analysis, proteomics, histology and related techniques to probe the biology of tissues retrieved from Egyptological sites.

The data derived from these studies has led to a transformation in how the ethnography, relationships, culture, diseases and medicine of people from the 30th century BC to the first century of the Common Era are viewed.

At CPD and certificate level you will gain an understanding of how the technologies of biomedical Egyptology have, and will, increasingly impact our understanding of how cultures and civilisations changed in this unique geographical setting across three millennia from the Predynastic period.

The diploma allows a much greater understanding to be acquired and the full master's degree gives you the opportunity to undertake a piece of primary research that will set you apart as an expert in the field.


We aim to:

  • give you an overview of the scope and nature of biomedical Egyptology and how it contributes to gaining an understanding of the culture and life of ancient Egypt;
  • allow you to gain an understanding of human anatomy and human disease and how they might be used to better understand life, illness and death in ancient times;
  • enable you to gain a high level of scientific knowledge of molecular biology and pathology (using its broadest definition) and how it can be explored in human tissue and body fluid in fresh and mummified/preserved tissues (PGDip and MSc only);
  • enable you to gain a sound working knowledge of research techniques (PGDip and MSc only);
  • give you the background knowledge and skills to integrate knowledge from multiple sources with that obtained by biomedical techniques to produce an overview of the drivers of Egyptian societies and societal change (MSc only);
  • enable you to undertake and complete a significant piece of scientific biomedical research that furthers our knowledge and understanding of one or more of the life, cultures, beliefs afflictions, and medicine of ancient Egypt (MSc only).

Teaching and learning

The unit will be delivered as a blend of the following.

  • Short lectures lasting no more than 30 minutes.
  • Guided personal study based around the lecture material. This will steer you towards supporting texts and other forms of evidence to increase the depth and breadth of your knowledge and understanding.
  • Moderated discussion forums, which allow students to learn from their peers and experts in Manchester. These sessions are aimed at ensuring your knowledge and understanding is consolidated, uncovering and dispelling factual inaccuracies and giving a peer benchmark for knowledge and understanding.
  • Journal clubs to help you develop a critically constructive approach to learning and data interpretation.
  • Formative assessments with targeted feedback to ensure you are progressing and enable you to fill any knowledge gaps.

Course unit details

Introduction to biomedical Egyptology (15 credits)

Get an introduction to Egyptian history, the history of excavations, major discovery of mummies and ethics of mummy studies.

Introduction to palaeopathology (15 credits)

This unit gives you a background to classifying disease, disease processes and mechanisms, and the pathological techniques used to identify disease.

Human osteology and anatomy (15 credits)

This unit explores skeletal anatomy, soft tissue anatomy, and the process of aging and sexing (as far as possible online).

Ancient Egyptian mummification (15 credits)

This unit looks at natural and human-mediated mummification; how and why it occurs and (in the case of human-mediated) and how its use was developed and declined. We also explore the history of mummy studies, comparative mummification and animal mummies.

Research methods (15 credits)

You will learn the methods that allow the maximum amount of evidenced information to be extracted from texts and practical work.

Molecular palaeopathology (15 credits)

This unit will explore the use of ancient DNA (aDNA), genomic, proteomic, histological and immunology in studies of ancient skeletal and mummified remains.

Ancient Egyptian medicine (15 credits)

Get an introduction to ancient Egyptian medicine, how it evolved over time, and the way in which it influenced - and was influenced by - contemporary medicine practiced by other ancient civilisations.

3D reconstruction and imaging (15 credits)

This unit will explore the use of 3D imaging, 3D printing and facial reconstruction in mummy studies.

Dissertation (60 credits) 

For the MSc, you will complete a dissertation reflecting a piece of primary research relating to the aims and learning outcomes of the course.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introduction to Biomedical Egyptology BIOL69611 15 Mandatory
Human Osteology and Anatomy BIOL69621 15 Mandatory
Introduction to palaeopathology BIOL69632 15 Mandatory
Egyptian mummification BIOL69642 15 Mandatory
Ancient Egyptian Medicine BIOL69651 15 Mandatory
Molecular Palaeopathology BIOL69662 15 Mandatory
Imaging and 3D reconstruction BIOL69672 15 Mandatory
Dissertation BIOL69680 60 Mandatory

Course collaborators

We collaborate with colleagues across The University of Manchester working in the areas of Egyptology and bioarchaeology.

The facial reconstruction element of the 3D reconstruction and imaging unit is taught in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University.


The University of Manchester offers extensive library and online services to help you get the most out of your studies.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:

CPD opportunities

Individual units can be taken if you wish to improve your understanding of omics technology, ancient medicine, civilisations and lifestyle in Egyptology.

Please email for more information on how to apply.