Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology Course - Durham University


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


Enter the fascinating world of forensics, and learn how the deceased are located, recovered and analysed using DNA and pathology.

Learn the science behind the exhumation and identification of skeletal remains

The location, exhumation and identification of the dead requires highly specialised expertise. On this course, you’ll learn the latest scientific techniques for body location, recovery and analysis.

Through a series of real-life case studies, video lab sessions, interactive 3D models, photographs and podcasts, you’ll explore key forensic techniques.

You’ll learn how to locate gravesites, excavate human remains, and determine factors like sex and age-at-death from the skeleton. You will also understand how to identify pathology on the skeleton, and be introduced to DNA analysis.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Introduction to Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology

  • Introduction
  • What is Forensic Archaeology and Forensic Anthropology
  • Summary, Quiz and Discussion

Week 2: Bodily Decomposition, Locating Graves and Excavation

  • What Happens to Human Bodies in the Ground
  • Body Location
  • Excavation
  • 3D Scanning and Documentation
  • Summary and quiz

Week 3: In the Lab: Creating an Osteological Profile

  • The Human Bone Lab
  • Determining the Sex of Adult Skeletons
  • Estimating Age-at-Death of Infants and Juveniles
  • Estimating Age-at-Death and Stature in Adults
  • Quiz and Summary

Week 4: Disease and Trauma: Identification of Pathological Lesions

  • Introduction to Trauma and Pathology
  • Recording Pathology
  • Trauma
  • Forensic Odontology
  • Quiz and Summary

Week 5: Biomolecular Techniques of Identification

  • DNA
  • Stable Isotopes
  • Sex determination from the teeth
  • Quiz and Summary

Week 6: Challenging Contexts

  • Burned Bodies
  • Commingled Contexts
  • Humanitarian Forensic Action
  • The Refugee 'Crisis'
  • Summary and Next Steps
  • End of Course Test

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Explore the application of archaeology and anthropology to different forensic contexts.
  • Develop knowledge of the latest methods in forensic archaeology and anthropology.
  • Compare the roles of different forensic specialists.
  • Interpret the post-mortem changes to the human body in differing contexts.
  • Describe a range of forensic case studies.
  • Evaluate the potentials and limitations of the scientific methods used to locate and recover human remains in forensic contexts.
  • Investigate the different scientific techniques used to identify deceased individuals from skeletal remains and establish the cause of death.
  • Reflect on learning gained throughout the course, including the latest research, and how this can be applied to modern forensic and archaeological contexts.

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone intrigued by forensic archaeology and anthropology.

The course is specifically designed for forensic, crime scene, and police practitioners who require training in anthropological and archaeological techniques.

It will be useful for undergraduate forensics students or those interested in studying forensic archaeology and anthropology at university.

It may also be useful to those working in legal and human rights contexts who require an understanding of forensic methods.

Who will you learn with?

Rebecca Gowland

I am a bioarchaeologist at Durham University, teaching and researching human skeletal remains. I also train national and international forensic practitioners in archaeology and anthropology.

Tim Thompson

I am a Professor and Associate Dean at Teesside University. I work in the area of forensic anthropology where I teach practitioners, research new forensic methods, and undertake case and advisory work

Who developed the course?

Durham University

Durham University is a collegiate university with long traditions and modern values, proud to be an international scholarly community which reflects the ambitions of cultures from around the world.

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$259.99 for one year

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  • Access to this course for 8 weeks

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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

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  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
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Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

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Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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