BSc Anatomical Sciences / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton (L)

Unit code BIOL31821
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit provides a theoretical background to the study of human skeletal remains as well as essential practical skills in osteological identification and the anthropological analysis of the human skeleton. The unit will be appropriate for students who wish to extend their knowledge of anatomical sciences and who are interested in pursuing a career or further study in the fields of skeletal anatomy, osteoarchaeology, forensic sciences or palaeoanthropology.


The unit aims to provide an understanding of anthropological approaches to the study of the human skeleton, including the application of methods of identification, the estimation of demographic parameters, and the recognition of indicators of pathology and attributes of lifestyle.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, to communicate core knowledge and theoretical principles. Practical classes to provide experience of identification and data collection. Independent study to familiarise students with case studies and supplement their knowledge of the topics covered in classes.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will be able to:

Demonstrate their knowledge of the human skeleton and apply their understanding of anthropological approaches to the study and interpretation of human skeletal remains.

Intellectual skills

Students will be able to:

Understand how to use anthropological methods to obtain information from human skeletal remains.

Practical skills

Students will be able to:

Visually recognise fragmentary skeletal remains; observe and recognise pathological changes to the skeleton; acquire and interpret measurement and life history data obtained from the human skeleton.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will be able to:

Work as members of a team to achieve common objectives; compile a laboratory report to a professional standard

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 40%

Examination (50%) consisting of two out of five questions in 1.5 hours.  Written Assignment - Laboratory Notebook (40%) 2000 words. Evaluated after week 6.Other – Three in-class tests (10%) 3 x 10 minutes. Feedback at weeks 2,4,6.

Recommended reading

  • Schwartz, J.H. (2007) Skeleton Keys. Oxford.
  • White, T.D. & Folkens, P.A. (2005) The Human Bone Manual. Oxford.
  • Bass, W.M. (2005) Human Osteology: a Laboratory and Field Manual. Columbia
  • Abrahams, P.H. et al. (2003) McMinn’s Colour Atlas of Human Anatomy. 5th ed. Edinburgh.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 6
Practical classes & workshops 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 82

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Chamberlain Unit coordinator

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