• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Biological Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Forensic Anthropology , Biology

The content in this course is grounded in the fields of bioarchaeology and palaeopathology. Students will learn how to interpret past human lifestyles, health and disease from skeletal remains that derive from archaeological contexts. We will examine a variety of topics that include: degenerative, infectious, and metabolic disease, oral health and disease, as well as physical activity, physiological stress, skeletal trauma, and cancer. The course includes some practical lab work and tutorial discussions. Students will be trained in completing a differential diagnosis for a given skeletal abnormality. Emphasis is on the interactions between biology and behaviour and the influences of environment and culture. The multidisciplinary nature of reconstructing the lives of the dead is explored though the manner in which socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, bioanthropology, chemistry, molecular biology, medicine and a host of other disciplines inform this research.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Complete a differential diagnosis for a given skeletal abnormality;
  2. Explain and describe how skeletal pathology and/or healthy skeletal variation are used to inform our current understanding of health, growth, diet, social interaction, and conflict in the past;
  3. Critically evaluate research in palaeopathology and bioarchaeology in a written form; and
  4. Describe the relationship between skeletal growth, function, form, and developmental disturbance; and the many different skeletal manifestations of human disease in the past.

Indicative Assessment

Differential Diagnosis, 2000 words (35%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]
Mid-semester literature test, 1 hour (30%) [Learning Outcomes 3, 4]
Final written exam, 2 hours (35%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 4]

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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 tutorials; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of Anthropology (ANTH), Archeology (ARCH) or Biology (BIOL) courses, or with permission of the convenor. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed BIAN6512.

Prescribed Texts

Larsen, C.S. Bioarchaeology. Interpreting Behavior From the Human Skeleton. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Hoppa, R.D. and Fitzgerald, C.M. (eds). Human Growth in the Past: Studies from Bones and Teeth. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Katzenberg, M.A. and Saunders, S.R. (eds). Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton. Wiley-Liss, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000.
Roberts, C. and Manchester, K. The Archaeology of Disease. Cornell University Press, 1997.




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 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
9038 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 In Person N/A

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