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Durham University: Human Bioarchaeology and Palaeopathology

Institution Durham University View institution profile
Department Archaeology
Telephone 0191 334 1000
Study type Taught


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.

Course Structure

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.


University of Durham


Durham University

  • World top 100 University: 78th in the QS World University Rankings 2024
  • UK top 10 University: 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 and Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 8th in the Complete University Guide
  • 53rd in the QS World University rankings for Sustainability 2023
  • 50th in the world in the category of Employer Reputation. QS World University Rankings 2024

University of DurhamUniversity of Durham

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