Bioarchaeology MSc

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,500
International full time annual tuition fee: £14,450

More about course fees »

Course type



Natural Sciences and Psychology

Study mode

Full Time (1 year)

About your course

Study for this Masters in Bioarchaeology at Liverpool John Moores University and gain hands-on experience at the archaeology excavation at the Poulton Project, carry out novel research and discover new laboratory techniques.

  • Complete this masters degree in one year (full time)
  • Masters course developed and delivered by leading researchers in the field
  • Excavation and bioarchaeological analysis of real human remains
  • Gain hands-on experience in field and laboratory techniques using specialised bioarchaeological labs and facilities
  • Substantial bone selection for research and for experience as teaching tools

This programme gives you the unique opportunity to join in an archaeological excavation at the Poulton Project archaeological site near Chester. More than 500 graves have been recovered with remains from Late Palaeolithic to recent occupations.

The recently refurbished bioarchaeology facilities hold 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 it is possible to work daily with human bones as part of your modules.

Introduction to the School

Bioarchaeology students use our new human osteology laboratories in the James Parsons Building of the City Campus.

This purpose-built facility stores the osteology collections and also specialist equipment for digital radiography and 3-dimensional imaging, such as laser scanners and microscribes for advanced morphometric studies.

Our campus provides other advanced laboratories for soil, animal and ancient DNA analyses and IT facilities supported by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic team of technical staff, many of whom are actively engaged in research and scholarly activity in the field.

We have a close working relationship with the Poulton Project, an archaeological excavation, where you will be able to assist in the excavation a Medieval cemetery.

This collaboration also serves as a great opportunity to observe and learn details about the management of archaeological sites, which is one of the possible career prospects for our graduates.

In addition, you will be encouraged to become members and participate in various bioarchaeology associations.

Why study this course at LJMU?

This dynamic programme will help you understand the use of techniques from both physical and genetic anthropology to describe human remains from archaeological contexts, providing Masters level bioarchaeological experience.

You’ll study archaeological techniques for the recovery of human remains and carry out the reconstruction of various aspects of human life from the skeleton. There’ll also be the opportunity to gain experience in the physical settings and contexts in which human remains are found, for example at the Poulton Project in Cheshire. 

You will learn how to apply a broad knowledge base of human osteology and biology to a range of real and theoretical archaeological applications and evaluate the burial contexts of human remains. You will use this to determine the natural and anthropogenic processes involved in creating them.

This course offers the opportunity to operate in a range of science contexts, and take responsibility for their contributions and outputs. You’ll generate information using primary observations of human osteology and use these to form responses to the problem presented. 

The knowledge and experience you gain on the course will put you in touch with academic leaders in this fascinating field, and provide you with the skills to operate responsibly and excel in your bioarchaeology career.

Programme outline and structure

Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing science that combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences. Study focuses on the key topics pertaining to human remains from archaeological sites.

Bioarchaeology includes areas of scientific investigation including palaeodemography, past behaviour, biological affinity, subsistence strategy, and health and well-being in the past. 

The MSc in Bioarchaeology will help you to develop a broad understanding of these issues, through the excavation and analysis of human and animal remains. Analytical techniques will cover dental and osteological analyses, archaeological field methods, and ancient genetics.

The programme aims to develop your advanced practical skills in skeletal analysis, making use of the department’s well-equipped specialist laboratories and reference collections.

A particular strength of our provision and Faculty expertise is that we are able to address the bioarchaeology of many world areas and time periods. When you complete the course, you will have all the skills necessary to continue into an academic career or gain employment in research, museums, education or commercial organisations.

During the year you will be given a personal tutor that will support you throughout your time at LJMU and be following both your academic and professional development.

What you will study on this degree

You will study the following topics:

Advanced Osteology 

Provides students 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 modifications.

World Archaeology

Provides students with an overview of human evolution and history and world archaeology.

Research Methods 

Provides extensive training in generic research skills and statistical techniques for the Natural Sciences. Students design a research project and are assessed via the preparation of a full grant application for the project.

Dental Anthropology 

Provides students with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required by bioarchaeologists to identify and examine human teeth.

Ancient DNA

An introduction to the use of ancient DNA in the field of bioarchaeology.

Virtual Bioarchaeology

We cover advanced analytical and data collection methods in bioarchaeology: Geometric morphometrics, 3D mapping, GIS, photogrammetry, CT scanning, X-ray, laser scanning.


Covers field survey, site management, excavation and related data analysis. In addition to the fieldwork, practicals and lectures, the course includes a non-residential field experience.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment methods are aligned to the focus and nature of modules.

You will complete oral presentations, poster presentations, a portfolio, dissertation, written project reports and grant proposal assessments. The Masters dissertation project comprises one-third of the total number of assessment credits within the programme.

Staff research interests

Our team are well-established members of this exciting discipline both within the UK and internationally.

Several members of the teaching team are involved in archaeological excavations in various locations around the world. In addition, they are members of major bioarchaeological associations and regularly attend meetings. 

Staff are involved in overseas research in association with international partners and publication in high profile journals. 

Working relationships have been established with the University of Florence (Italy), the University of Athens (Greece), the Natural History Museum (London), the Centre Archéologique de la Grotte Scladina (Belgium), Universtiy of Tübingen and Max Plank Institute for History and the Sciences (Germany), Universiy of Algarve (Portugal), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Universidad de Barcelona (Spain), Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (University of Manchester).

Entry requirements (Home)

  • You will need an Honours degree (minimum 2.2) in anthropology or a related field
  • Alternative qualifications, coupled with a significant period of relevant work experience, will also be considered

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence. If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website. For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All full and part-time students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or pay by instalments. If you need advice about how you will pay your tuition fees, please email to LJMU’s Student Funding Team as soon as possible.

Sources of funding

Postgraduate loans for students from England, Wales and the EU

Postgraduate Masters loans are available for those studying in the 2017/18 academic year. The new government loans, of up to £10,280, are available for students attending eligible full and part-time Masters courses. To be eligible part time courses need to be studied at 50% intensity. Personal Eligibility is based on your age, your residency and if you have studied at Masters level previously.

Loan repayments will begin the April after course completion, with the first cohort of borrowers commencing repayments in April 2019. Repayments will be made at a rate of 6% of income above an earning threshold of £21,000. This threshold will be frozen until 2021. For details of loan terms, conditions and eligibility, go to:-

Postgraduate Loans for students from Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish government is also introducing a loan for students commencing postgraduate study from September 2017 onwards. Unlike the loan for students from England and Wales this scheme offers a loan for tuition fees only with no funding available from the NI government for living costs. The loan for tuition fees will be paid direct to LJMU.

The maximum loan for those starting in 2017 is £5,500 per course. Please note this means in some instances the loan will not cover your tuition fees in full and you will need to make alternative arrangements to pay the balance as well as source funding for your living costs.

LJMU Alumni Award

Alumni of the University are eligible to apply for a 20% reduction in their postgraduate tuition fees if they choose to progress onto a higher degree programme at LJMU. Both Home and international LJMU students and alumni can apply for this award (subject to eligibility criteria*).

Postgraduate International Scholarships

LJMU offers scholarships for international applicants accepted onto taught masters programmes (excluding distance learning programmes) and research degrees. Current LJMU international students and alumni interested in pursuing postgraduate study and research at the University are eligible to apply for these scholarships along with new applicants. 

English for Postgraduate Studies Bursary

A Bursary is also available for international students who need to improve their IELTS score prior to enrolling on their postgraduate course or research programme at the University. This course is run by LJMU’s International Study Centre.

Earn While You Learn

Working while you study means you may be able to pay for your course without taking out any further loans or at least reducing the amount you need to borrow. Working while you study also gives you the skills valued by employers, such as managing your workload and prioritising your time.

LJMU’s Vacancy website can help you find graduate vacancies, sandwich/industrial placements, internships / summer work, part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work-based learning placements. Over 1,000 local and regional employers regularly list opportunities on the website.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Many students fund their postgraduate studies via Professional and Career Development Loans. This is a bank loan which you will have to pay back once you’ve completed the course. However, while you are studying any interest on the loan will be paid for you by the Skills Funding Agency. PCDLs worth between £300 and £10,000 are available for eligible postgraduates to fund up to two years of study (three if the course includes work experience). The loan is split into course fees and living costs. 

Employer sponsorship

Some organisations and companies fund the cost of postgraduate studies for their employees as they recognise the value of having well qualified staff. Check out our courses and see if there are any on offer that could enhance your current career. Remember, employer support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can take other forms too, such as flexible working arrangements, day release and time in lieu of study.

Support for disabled students

Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs are designed to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. DSAs don’t have to be paid back and the type of support you receive will be determined by your specific needs not your household income. Please contact LJMU’s Disability team for further advice: 0151 231 3164/3165.

Council tax exemption

All full-time postgraduate students studying courses lasting one year or more are eligible for a council tax exemption certificate.

Graduate employment

Postgraduate level study is highly recommended for a career in Bioarchaeology.

We design our teaching to develop your general research skills and enhance your skills in the laboratory, the lecture theatre, the seminar room and out in the field. Completing this course will help you acquire the necessary skills to continue into an academic career or gain employment in research, museums, education or commercial organisations. 

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where 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.
Further guidance on programme changes

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