Forensic Anthropology master degrees (MSc) in the UK

What’s a forensic anthropologist?

Anthropology is the study of humankind, culturally and physically, in all times and places. Forensic Anthropology is the application of anthropological knowledge and techniques in a legal context.  Forensic anthropologists are experts in analyzing human remains and for this reason are integral to a number of different types of forensic investigations. Oftentimes, forensic anthropologists are called on after mass disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis in order to assist in identifying human remains. They are also used at crime scenes to help recover evidence.

Landing a job as a forensic anthropologist can be very rewarding, both professionally and financially.

Forensic anthropology schools that offer Masters Degree (MSc) programs

University University of Central Lancashire
Duration  1 year full time; 2 years part time (mode to be negotiated with course leader)
Type Full time / Part time
Tuition and fees UK/EU- £5000 Full Time, £525 per module Part Time. Overseas- £10450 FT
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University of Central Lancashire Forensic Anthropology MSc Program information:

MSc Forensic Anthropology is a one-year taught masters programme consisting of two semesters’ coursework and one semester of an original research project. This course is the only forensic anthropology/osteology MSc in the UK to be based within a dedicated forensics department with state-of-the-art Crime Scene Investigation practical labs as well as excellent resources in Forensic Biology and Chemistry. The MSc in Forensic Anthropology is designed to enable graduate students to develop skills in a variety of areas, which concern the processing, analysis, and identification of human remains. The course provides intensive training in developmental anatomy and osteology, forensic anthropology method and theory, forensic taphonomy in theory and practice, crime scene investigation and the law, research methods, and expert witness and presentation skills. The course has a focus on both domestic forensic anthropology work (eg UK and US) and forensic anthropology in the context of international humanitarian work and international criminal investigation.

Other useful information:

The course is structured into 3 parts :

Part 1 (14 weeks) :
Developmental Anatomy: Covers human embryology and developmental anatomy through the adult form.
Forensic Anthropology: Concerned with methods of identification in the forensic context, utilising a lab-based focus on the estimation of age, sex, stature, and race and the identification of trauma and pathology. Issues in both domestic and international contexts of forensic work will be addressed.
Research Methods: Trains students in a wide range of skills, including technical documentation, project management, data analysis and retrieval, writing and research skills, and library use.

Part 2 (14 weeks) :
Forensic Taphonomy: Covers the process and sequence of human decomposition, as well as the burial and surface dispersal of human remains.
Crime Scene Investigation and the Anthropologist: Concerned with crime scene investigation and the supporting role of the forensic archaeologist and anthropologist at the crime scene and in the mortuary, and the legal framework governing domestic and international investigation procedure.
Expert Witness and Communication: Communication skills providing background and training in expert witness delivery, and the study of British and International Law.

Part 3 (16 weeks) – Research Project :
Every student will undertake a research project, which will use and enhance many of the skills learnt on the course. The project will be based within the university, at a museum, or as an experimental field project. The end result of the research project should be a publishable quality paper. Following the conclusion of the work, the student will give a presentation of their findings.

University University of Dundee
Duration  1 year
Type Full time
Tuition and fees 2013-2014 Home/EU £15,000 2013-2014 OS £15,000
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University of Dundee MSc Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology MSc Program information:

This one-year degree is designed for students who already hold a first degree (BA or BSc) in Forensic Anthropology or a related subject, and is intended to provide advanced training in subject areas which are germane to current professional requirements, but which are not available collectively at any other institution in the world.

Other useful information:

This is a one year full time taught Masters programme in which all modules are compulsory. The research dissertation can be in the form of original laboratory research in an area pertinent to anatomy and forensic anthropology.
Human Gross Anatomy (Semesters 1 & 2):

  • Provides the opportunity to conduct whole body dissection, with particular emphasis on functional and musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Exposure to human form and function with direct relevance to the identification process
  • Only institution in the UK offering the opportunity to dissect cadavers which have been embalmed using the Thiel soft-fix method, which provides life-like preservation of the soft tissues.

Developmental Juvenile Osteology (Semester 1):

  • Focuses on the development of the human juvenile skeleton as a means to understanding adult skeletal form
  • Through practical examination, each bone of the body will be studied from its embryological origin, through key developmental milestones, until the attainment of its adult form
  • Practical sessions will focus on the unique Scheuer collection of juvenile skeletal remains.

Forensic Anthropology as Expert Evidence
Covering the more specialised skills including forensic anatomy, trauma analysis and age estimation in the living this module will cover the skills required to present your analyses in a court of law.
Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) training (Semesters 1 & 2):

  • Provides a thorough understanding of the DVI process in the UK and abroad
  • Developed by experienced practitioners, it is based on the National DVI Training course for the UK DVI team
  • Delivers a robust theoretical underpinning for anyone undertaking DVI work on a practical basis.

MSc Research Project (Semester 3):

  • Students will undertake an advanced level practical project supervised by a research-active practitioner
  • CAHID staff have significant experience in many areas of forensic human identification, including juvenile osteology, facial anthropology, facial reconstruction, age assessment in the living and dead, analysis of sexual dimorphism and ancestry, soft tissue biometric systems, human provenance, skeletal pathology and trauma, and virtual anthropology
University University of Edinburgh
Duration  1 year full / 2 year part time
Type Full time and part time
Tuition and fees Home/EU £9,300; OS/international £17,400
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University of Edinburgh Forensic Anthropology MSc Program information:

Through a multidisciplinary combination of academic theory and practical application, you’ll learn to approach osteological problems creatively and develop the ability to develop and test research, critically investigate data sources and relate scientific analyses to forensic problems.
Crucially, you will also study the legal, scientific and evidential framework of forensic anthropology, which will aid you in the proper interpretation of recovered osteological remains.

Other useful information:

The programme consists of seven compulsory courses and combines lectures, seminars and hands-on practical work with archaeological skeletal assemblages and reference collections.

In addition to essays, reports, and practical assessments, you will complete a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Compulsory courses

  • Analytical Methods in Human Osteology
  • Forensic Taphonomy
  • Legal and Evidential Framework in Forensic Anthropology
  • Musculoskeletal Analysis Anatomy
  • Practical Osteology
  • Scientific Evidence in Forensic Anthropology
  • Skeletal Pathology

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to:

  • identify and interpret human bone remains
  • develop hypothesis testing skills
  • carry out relevant scientific analyses, often in cooperation with experts in other disciplines
  • engage in theoretical and methodological discussions relevant to forensic anthropology
  • design research strategies based on transferable skills providing a basis for advanced studies (PhD and beyond)
University University of Huddersfield
Department School of Applied Sciences
Duration  1 year
Type Full time
Tuition and fees Home/EU £4,460; OS/international £9,000 – £9,495
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University of Huddersfield Forensic Anthropology MSc Program information:

This course provides postgraduate education in the discipline of Forensic Anthropology. This course provides intensive training in human osteology and the techniques used by Forensic Anthropologists to build osteological profiles of unknown skeletonised human remains. The first half of the taught phase provides you with a solid foundation in the core skills of forensic science, such as crime scene examination and interpretation and presentation of evidence, using our extensive crime scene facilities and real crime scene expertise and casework. The second half of the taught phase includes specialised modules on human osteology, and techniques of estimation of sex, age, stature and ethnic ancestry in skeletal remains, as well as distinguishing between animal and human bones. It also includes topics such as skeletal development, trauma and pathology; forensic taphonomy (decomposition and decay); and post-mortem interval estimation. The course is very practically and vocationally-focused, and provides hands-on experience of dealing with skeletonised and decomposed human (and animal) remains. The course also takes advantage of the superb analytical facilities, Forensic Anthropology laboratory and a new taphonomy facility.
In the last third of the course, you are given the opportunity to pursue an original research project, potentially suitable for publication, on a topic provided by supervisors or of a topic of your choice. This requires 50 days of laboratory work, and takes place in the summer term. It may also be delivered through an industrial or relevant placement (subject to availability).

Other useful information:

The course is aimed at those wishing to build on their undergraduate science degree, by gaining hands-on experience and critical examination of theory and practice, in order to pursue a career in forensic science, and in particular Forensic Anthropology. It is also designed for scientific or forensic practitioners wishing to re-specialise or hone their Forensic Anthropology skills to pursue an affiliated career path.

The modules include:

+ Crime Scene Science Awareness
+ Quality and Presentation of Evidence
+ Forensic Chemistry Awareness
+ Forensic Biology Awareness
+ Death and Decomposition
+ Post Mortem Interval Estimation
+ Forensic Osteology
+ Project

University Cranfield University
Department Defence and Security
Duration  1 year
Type Full time and part time
Tuition and fees Home/EU – £6,950 Overseas – £13,500
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Cranfield University Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc/PgDip information:

This course is designed to give a broad introduction to the subject, rapidly advancing into the understanding of cutting-edge research and the latest methodologies. The course is highly practical and hands-on, aiming to produce forensic experts capable of giving expert witness testimonies in a courtroom situation and elsewhere.

The course consists of a two-week period of introductory studies followed by academic instruction in modular form. Most modules are of five days’ duration, interspersed with weeks devoted to private study and visits to forensic science establishments.

The Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc is part of the Forensic MSc Programme which has been formally accredited by the Forensic Science Society.

Other useful information:

The course consists of a two-week period of introductory studies followed by academic instruction in modular form. Most modules are of five days’ duration, interspersed with weeks devoted to private study and visits to forensic science establishments. Students are required to take four core modules, four role specific modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements, or interests. This is followed by a four-month research project and thesis.

Core Modules:

Investigation and Evidence Collection
Reasoning for Forensic Science
Analytical Techniques
Courtroom Skills
Forensic Archaeology: Recovering Buried Remains
Forensic Archaeology: Mass Grave Excavation
Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology: Osteology
Further Forensic Anthropology: Identification

University University of Lincoln
Department School of Life Sciences
Duration  18 months full-time
Type Full time
Tuition and fees Home/EU – £6,950 Overseas – £13,500
Program link

University of Lincoln Forensic Anthropology MSc/PgDip information:

Students on this course are trained in forensic anthropology techniques with an emphasis on the role of the expert witness and presentation of evidence. The programme focuses on human rights and the role of forensic anthropology in international criminal investigations.

It is the only programme of this kind in the UK to offer an overseas field module option to a Latin American country, where forensic anthropology is considered a primary tool in the investigation of war crimes.

Students are taught by specialists with practitioner experience in the field of forensic anthropology and disaster victim identification.

Research is fully integrated within the programme through case studies and ongoing research conducted by academics. Students carry out their own research projects and are fully integrated into the research culture of the University of Lincoln. There are opportunities for students to present their research at conferences.

Other useful information:

The group works very closely on projects with forensic laboratories, police crime scene personnel and associated instrument/equipment suppliers, both in the UK and overseas.

Core Modules:

Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
Advanced Forensic Anthropology
Forensic Anthropology and Human Rights
The Forensic Expert and the Law
Project Preparation
Disaster Victim Identification
Research project

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