• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Classics and Ancient History , Forensic Anthropology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Marc Oxenham
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

The course investigates how and why people have, throughout most of human history, buried their dead. We will examine the origins of burial more than 20,000 years ago and discuss the social and ideological reasons for different treatments of the dead prior to, and during burial. We will explore topics such as gender, ancestor worship and sacrifice, and investigate how modern scientific techniques are also enabling archaeologists to identify patterns of human migration and interaction.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. explain the significant changes that occurred in human social and ideological behaviour implied by the emergence of human burial in the Late Pleistocene;
  2. critically assess the relevance of body placement and orientation in burials;
  3. explain the importance of various beliefs in the afterlife in defining treatment of the dead; and
  4. critically investigate and interpret the roles that certain aspects of society and culture such as status, rank, power, gender and kinship are ascribed in burial traditions and interpreted by archaeologists.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial tasks - presentations and discussion (1000 words maximum or equivalent) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Mortuary Analysis Task, 3000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Argumentative Essay, 3000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of 1000 lvl Archaeology (ARCH) or 6 units of Biological Anthropology (BIAN) courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed ARCH3028 or ARCH2054.

Prescribed Texts

No prescribed text required


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $3360
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5160
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9316 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person N/A

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