MSc Bioarchaeology

Study mode

Full-time (1 year)

Start date(s)

September 2019

Tuition fees 19/20
Home (full-time, per year): £7,100
International (full-time, per year): £14,450

General enquiries:

0151 231 5090

Faculty of Science:

0151 231 2888

International admissions

+44 (0)151 904 6499

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About this course

Gain hands-on excavation experience at the Poulton Project, carry out novel research and discover new laboratory techniques on this Bioarchaeology MSc at LJMU.

  • Gain a broad-based foundation in the field of Bioarchaeology, combining theoretical knowledge and hands-on applied learning at the cutting edge of Bioarchaeology
  • Benefit from world-leading, specialist teaching in dental anthropology, ancient DNA and virtual methods in bioarchaeology, with lectures and practical sessions delivered by specialists in their field
  • Learn from our academic team of internationally recognised experts who are active in research – both in the UK and abroad – through our Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology
  • Get involved in excavation and bioarchaeological analysis of real human remains at Medieval cemetery, the Poulton Project 
  • Study in some of the best-equipped specialist laboratory settings in the country, featuring extensive human skeletal collections and well-equipped research laboratories     
  • Look forward to excellent employment prospects in a wide range of disciplines

Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing science that combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences to discover how ancient populations lived.

You will learn the method and theory of the analysis and interpretation of human skeletons and other biological remains from archaeological contexts. 


You will also have the unique opportunity to excavate and analyse human remains during archaeological excavations at the Poulton Project archaeological site near Chester or by joining staff members on their excavations abroad.

The programme focuses on biological remains from archaeological contexts, however the skills learned will also be applicable to living humans and animals.

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 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.

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 use your own)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)

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  • 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.


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2017) 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.

The course is designed to develop skills of analysis, assessment and interpretation of biological archaeological remains and refine your ability to produce written and oral reports. The broad-based nature of the subject and the skills it provides give a strong grounding for a wide range of careers, not only those related to archaeology but also in the wider fields of education, health, administration and business. 

Many graduates now work as Archaeological Assistants/Contract Archaeologists, Osteoarchaeologists, Museum Curators, Field Archaeologists, Forensic Practitioners, Teachers and Community Archaeologists or have gone on to further study.

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Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your course

Your programme is made up of a number of core modules and a dissertation as detailed below.

Students in classroom - Course modules
Core modules

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.

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.

Research Methods
20 credits

This module provides extensive training in generic research knowledge and statistical techniques for the Natural Sciences. It aims to:

  • provide you with a broad appreciation of research methods and methodology including an understanding of the uses and limitations of different research methods
  • teach you how to design and execute a research project keeping in mind feasibility, ethics, data protection, and project logistics and funding

Archaeological Science and Ancient DNA
20 credits

This module, taught using hands-on practicals and workshops, provides an understanding and critical awareness of ancient DNA and its use in bioarchaeology. Archaeological Science covers palaeoanthropology, world archaeology and current methods such as radiocarbon dates (C14 dating) and stable isotopes.

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.

Virtual Methods and Topics in Bioarchaeology
20 credits

This module focuses on attaining skills from computer-based analytical techniques and their applications to bioarchaeology. It covers geometric morphometrics, 2D and 3D data capture techniques including laser and CT scanning, drone technology and GIS methods. The module also allows you to develop a mini-project on an suitable topic of your choice in bioarchaeology.

60 credits

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


An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

Semester 1

  • Monday: Advanced Osteology and Skeletal Pathology*
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: Archaeological Science and Ancient DNA*
  • Thursday: Dental Anthropology*

Semester 2

  • Monday, Thursday and Friday in January and February: Research Methods*
  • Tuesday: Archaeological Field Skills
  • Friday: Virtual Methods and Topics in Bioarchaeology*
  • Last week of the semester: Excavation practice*
Semester 3
  • Dissertation

* Please note: 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

The programme is delivered through lectures, hands-on workshops, practicals and fieldtrips. Due to the practical hands-on learning and fieldwork, scheduled activities will vary from three to five days per week. Formal classes will be based on a mixture of lectures, practicals and workshops, the proportion of which will vary between modules. For your research project you may find yourself working in our state-of-the art laboratory facilities, in the field or a museum collecting data, or you may choose to do your project on our large skeletal collections.

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Applied learning

This programme gives you the unique opportunity to participate in an archaeological excavation at the Poulton Project archaeological site near Chester, where more than 500 graves have been recovered from Medieval and Post-medieval contexts. Roman and Iron Age features are also present on the site.

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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 techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.

Assessment methods on this course include a combination of reports, essays, tests and oral and poster presentations. The dissertation will be up to 15,000 words and is an original piece of research on a topic of your choice in discussion with your dissertation supervisor.

Course tutors

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

Richard Jennings

Richard Jennings

Programme Leader

Richard’s main research interest is human evolution. His current focus is on the behaviour, ecology, and disappearance of Neanderthals in southern Iberia. He co-directs archaeological excavations at the Gorham’s Cave Complex UNESCO World Heritage site in Gibraltar, training students from LJMU and from other universities in cutting edge field techniques in the process. He also undertakes fieldwork in Ireland to address the key question there of why there is no substantial evidence for an Irish Palaeolithic. In terms of scientific approaches, he specialises in landscape archaeology and GIS applications and explores Palaeolithic site distribution patterns with respect to palaeoenvironmental data and climate models in mid-latitude Eurasia. Richard also works with Arches cultural heritage management software designed by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund to develop heritage and research projects in the Pacific and Gibraltar. 

Developing the programme to teach students the skills needed to be a Bioarchaeologist in the 21st century is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

Bioarchaeology students use our new human osteology laboratories in the James Parsons Building in the City Campus. This purpose-built facility stores the osteology collections and specialist equipment for digital radiography and 3-dimensional imaging, such as laser scanners and microscribes for advanced morphometric studies. There are also other advanced laboratories for soil, animal and ancient DNA analyses as well as 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.

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Entry requirements

You will need:

  • a minimum 2:1 in anthropology or a related field


  • alternative qualifications with a significant period of relevant work experience

Additional Information

  • IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.
  • Pearson : 58-64 (minimum 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)
  • RPL is accepted on this programme
  • 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

If you have any specific queries, please contact

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

View country specific entry requirements

Contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for guidance on visa information. Further information is also available from our international web pages.

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Application and selection

Securing your place at LJMU

You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the 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.