About this course
This professionally accredited MSc provides the skills and knowledge for a career in forensic anthropology. Gain hands-on experience in the field and carry out research.
- Benefit from specialised forensic science labs and facilities
- Study a course developed and delivered by leading researchers
- Professionally accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
- Gain hands-on experience in the field by getting involved with excavation and anthropological analysis of real human remains at the Poulton Project medieval cemetery
- Explore leading methodologies for identification of unknown individuals
- Discover how stratigraphic excavation techniques are used to solve missing person cases
- Look forward to employment opportunities in forensic anthropology and related fields
- Take an optional module in skeletal anatomy — a complete introduction to working with bones
Forensic Anthropology combines physical anthropological knowledge and the application of forensic methods and techniques. The discipline is used by the justice system to solve cases where a missing person or an unknown murder victim is involved.
The MSc in Forensic Anthropology provides the skills and knowledge required to pursue a career in the search for missing people, the recovery of evidence and human remains from clandestine graves and the identification of unknown corpses by osteological analysis.
Your studies will develop a broad understanding of these issues, including excavation, laboratory analysis and the courtroom skills necessary to present findings in a trial. You will learn analytical techniques, taphonomic analysis, field methods and genetic applications, as well as having the unique opportunity to excavate and analyse human remains during archaeological excavations at the Poulton Project archaeological site near Chester.
During your Masters you will learn to: apply a broad knowledge base of human osteology and biology to a range of real and theoretical forensic applications and evaluate the burial contexts of human remains, using this to determine the natural and anthropogenic processes involved in creating them. You will operate in a range of science contexts, taking responsibility for your contributions and outputs and generating information using primary observations of human osteology. You will use this information to form responses to the problems presented.
You will be taught in new human osteology laboratories, which house osteology collections and specialist equipment for digital radiography and 3-dimensional imaging, such as laser scanners and micro scribes for advanced morphometric studies.
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Find out more about studying MSc Forensic Anthropology
Professional body recognition
MSc Forensic Anthropology is professionally accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.
Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students
The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:
- library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
- access to programme-appropriate software
- library and student IT support
- free on-campus wifi via eduroam
Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:
- accommodation and living expenditure
- books (should you wish to have your own copies)
- printing, photocopying and stationery
- PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
- mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
- field trips (travel and activity costs)
- placements (travel expenses and living costs)
- student visas (international students only)
- study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
- academic conferences (travel costs)
- professional-body membership
- graduation (gown hire etc)
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.
Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.
Further your career prospects
LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.
Completing this MSc degree will give you the skills to continue into academic research or forge a career as a Forensic Anthropologist. Employment opportunities may be available with the Police, Serious Organised Crime Agency and MI5. The Natural History Museum is one of many museums who employ forensic anthropologists and you could also consider graduate schemes within the public sector with, for example: the National Government Development Programme, Civil Service, NHS Management Training Scheme and NHS Clinical Scientist Training Programme.
Discover the building blocks of your programme
This course is currently undergoing its scheduled programme review, which may impact the advertised modules. Programme review is a standard part of the University’s approach to quality assurance and enhancement, enabling us to ensure that our courses remain up to date and maintain their high standard and relevancy.
Once the review is completed, this course website page will be updated to reflect any approved changes to the advertised course. These approved changes will also be communicated to those who apply for the course to ensure they wish to proceed with their application.
Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.
Your programme is made up of a number of core and option modules and a dissertation as detailed below.
The aim of this module is to enable you to conduct independent scientific research, in an appropriate manner, under the guidance of an academic tutor. It:
- gives you the opportunity to make a major contribution in a chosen subject area through a supervised programme of individual study
- allows you to demonstrate your ability to carry out scientific research and to present findings as a scientific report
Taphonomy and Trauma Analysis
In this module, you will examine decomposition processes and trauma analysis.
Law and Court Room Skills
This module discusses the criminal justice systems under which a Forensic Scientist may work and examines expert witness testimony. Aspects of regulation and quality assurance are touched upon.
Human Identification and Forensic DNA
The module provides an in-depth critical understanding of the techniques and the methodology involved in the skeletal identification of human remains in the field of Forensic Anthropology. You will use a DNA typing approach for the identification of human remains.
Forensic Research Methods
This module covers grant application, critical appraisal of leading research and data interpretation and evaluation - leading naturally into the dissertation.
Trace Evidence Analysis
This module teaches you to identify, differentiate and analyse different types of trace evidence using advanced techniques. Microscopy, including SEM (EDX) and atomic force, form the basis of the practical analysis performed, along with other techniques.
Advanced Osteology and Skeletal Pathology
The aim of this module is to provide you with an advanced knowledge of the human skeleton and the ability to identify animal bones, methods of curation of skeletal collections and understanding of pathological processes and how these relate to identification issues or population studies. It enables you to identify and describe the human skeleton, become familiar with animal bones and learn how to differentiate between the two.
This module provides advanced training in the identification of teeth and deals with a wide range of dental anthropological topics. It aims to provide you with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required by a Bioarchaeologist or Forensic Anthropologist to identify and examine human teeth, and to use them to characterise and compare both samples and individuals.
This module combines theory and practical work in post mortem interval determination, entomology, microbiology and pathology.
Archaeological Field Skills
This module covers excavation planning, execution and reporting. It includes assessed fieldwork and a compulsory competency placement comprising of at least two weeks excavation of an archaeological site.
An insight into teaching on your course
- Monday: Law and Court Room Skills; Advanced Osteology & Skeletal Pathology (option); Forensic Bioscience (option)*
- Tuesday: Forensic Research Methods*
- Tuesday: Taphonomy & Trauma Analysis*
- Wednesday: Human Identification & Forensic DNA*
- Thursday: Dental Anthropology (option)*
- Friday: Fire Investigation (option)*
- Throughout the week: Archaeological Field Skills lectures and workshops (option)*
- Last week of the semester: Archaeological Field Skills practice (option)*
* Please note that this is a full-time course and teaching can be scheduled any day of the week. Dates and times will vary throughout the year.
You will learn through a combination of interactive lectures, workshops, Computer Assisted Learning, seminars, literature reviews, extended essays, portfolios, oral presentations, directed supervisions and project work.
Practical skills will involve activities, demonstrations, project work, external visits and seminars (including high profile external/internal speakers). The five-month project will develop your knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories applicable to the analysis of human remains from forensic contexts.
The five-month project will develop your knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories applicable to the analysis of human remains from forensic contexts.
How learning is monitored on your programme
To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.
Assessment methods on this course include: a combination of seen/unseen exam papers with essay and interpretative style questions and coursework featuring: laboratory reports, essays, case studies, oral exams, poster presentations, scientific paper production, e-portfolio, problem solving exercises and the project thesis.
Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning
Dr Matteo Borrini
Dr Matteo Borrini
Dr Borrini was a research fellow at the University of Florence and a contract professor at the Papal Theological University San Bonaventura and the University of Florence. He has worked as a scientific consultant for the National Geographic Society and was recently appointed visiting professor of the History of Medicine at Humanitas University (Milan). Dr Borrini is also an expert witness in forensic anthropology/ archaeology for the Italian State Prosecutors Office. Involved in the search, recovery and identification of missing people, Dr Borrini is devoted to WWII investigations and is an honorary member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His research interests include: the search, recovery and identification of missing people and murder victims; cold case investigation; trauma and taphonomy analysis and facial reconstruction. His scientific interests include cadaver dog training.
I particularly enjoy the fact I can give students professional skills and personal experiences through extensive fieldwork. It's particularly rewarding to know that through teaching I'm touching a life forever.
What you can expect from your School
The recently refurbished bioarchaeology facilities, based in the City Campus, feature analytical equipment for morphometric analysis, digital radiography and 3-dimensional imaging as well as an extensive human skeletal collection which you will have access to for teaching and research. This is one of the few places where you will work daily with human bones as part of your modules.
You will need:
- a good second class honours degree in a relevant scientific discipline such as anthropology, anatomy or forensic science
- an academic reference
- alternative qualifications, coupled with a significant period of relevant work experience
- IELTS 6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)
Other international requirements
- International students applying to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU should check if they require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate
- International students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part-time
- Extra Requirements
- RPL is accepted on this programme
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
To apply for this programme, you are required to complete an LJMU online application form. You will need to provide details of previous qualifications and a personal statement outlining why you wish to study this programme.
The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.