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MSc Forensic Anthropology

Start date(s):
Study mode:
Course duration:
1 year

Tuition fees

Home fee
International full-time per year
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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.

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

Additional costs

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.

The student experience

Discover life as a postgraduate student at LJMU.

Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your programme

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.

Core modules

Law and Court Room Skills
20 credits

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.

Forensic Anthropology Dissertation
60 credits

The aim of this module is to enable you to conduct independent forensic research in an systematic and professional manner under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Specifically, the forensic anthropology dissertation:

  • gives you the opportunity to make a major contribution in a chosen forensic area through a supervised programme of individual study
  • allows you to demonstrate your ability to carry out forensic research and to present findings as a scientific report

Taphonomy and Trauma Analysis
20 credits

In this module, you will examine decomposition processes and trauma analysis.

Human Identification and Forensic DNA
20 credits

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
20 credits

This module covers grant application, critical appraisal of leading research and data interpretation and evaluation - leading naturally into the dissertation.

Optional Modules

Trace Evidence Analysis
20 credits

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
20 credits

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.

Dental Anthropology
20 credits

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.

Forensic Bioscience
20 credits

This module combines theory and practical work in post mortem interval determination, entomology, microbiology and pathology.

Archaeological Field Skills
20 credits

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

Teaching hours

Semester 1

  • Monday: Law and Court Room Skills; Advanced Osteology & Skeletal Pathology (option); Forensic Bioscience (option)*
  • Tuesday: Forensic Research Methods*

Semester 2:

  • 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.

Teaching methods

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.

Applied learning

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.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

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.

School facilities

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.

Entry requirements

You will need:

Qualification requirements

Undergraduate degree

  • 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

International requirements


    • 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

Further information

  • Extra Requirements
  • RPL

    • 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.

Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.