• Class Number 6368
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Stacey Ward
    • Dr Katharine Balolia
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

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 be able 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;
  4. Describe the relationship between skeletal growth, function, form, and developmental disturbance; and the many different skeletal manifestations of human disease in the past; and
  5. Suggest future research avenues to improve our current understanding of certain skeletal conditions occurring in the human past, and how those can inform modern day health and disease.

Additional Course Costs

Clean white lab coats are compulsory attire for in-person lab sessions on campus (see required resources below).

Examination Material or equipment

  • You may use your lecture notes and notes from course readings when in the lab to assist you with data collection for the differntial diagnosis assessment. You may also collaborate and discuss your findings with your peers while collecting data. However, your final report must be completed independently and in your own words.
  • The mid-semester literature test and final exam for this course are closed-book. As such, study materials are not permitted during the test or exam.
  • We will supply any equipment required for the mid-semester literature test - just bring yourself, your lab coat, your student ID card, and a pen!

Required Resources

Lab Equipment:

  • Lab coats show respect to the dead and also protect both you and your clothes in the lab.
  • You must wear a clean white labcoat to all in-person lab sessions. No lab coat, no entry.
  • For those of you who need to purchase a lab coat, ANU lab coats can be purchased through the Harry Hartog bookshop (online or on campus) for $30.
  • Non-branded coats may also be purchased from any workwear or uniform supply shop (e.g., The Lab Coat Company, uniforms.com.au).

Assigned Course Readings:

  • There is no required textbook for this course. Instead, it involves assigned (required) readings which must completed prior to each lecture. The first six required readings will also be examined in the mid-semester literature test.
  • All readings are available via the library website or as PDFs on Wattle.
  • These readings will provide you with critical background knowledge for each lecture and increase your understanding of key course concepts.
  • Weekly readings can be found under 'Weekly Activities' on Wattle.

Helpful Textbooks

  • The following titles are not compulsory reading, but will provide extra background information that may assist you in completing this course. These titles are available in the ANU Libraries:
  • White, TD, Black, MT, Folkens, PA. 2012. Human Osteology. Amsterdam: Academic Press.
  • Ortner, D.J., 2003. Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains. Amsterdam: Academic Press.
  • Lewis, M., 2017. Paleopathology of Children: Identification of Pathological Conditions in the Human Skeletal Remains of Non-Adults. London: Academic Press.
  • Mann, R.W., Murphy, S.P. and Orther, D.J., 1990. Regional Atlas of Bone Disease: A Guide to Pathologic and Normal Variation in the Human Skeleton. Springfield (Illinois): Thomas.
  • Aufderheide, A.C., Rodríguez-Martín, C. and Langsjoen, O., 1998. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Paleopathology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Grauer, A.L. ed., 2012. A Companion to Paleopathology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Student Computer Requirements

  • Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment. ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information

Lecture Attendance and Recordings

  • You are strongly encouraged to attend lectures where possible, as the lecture recordings for Weeks 1 to 6 will only be released in Week 6 and recordings for Weeks 7 to 12 will only be released in Week 12. If you are unable to attend a lecture due to circumstances outside of your control (e.g., sickness), you can obtain a copy of the lecture recording by contacting the course convenor and sharing evidence of your circumstances (e.g., medical certificate). EAP students will be given access to lecture recordings as per the conditions stated in their EAP document.

Lecture Content:

  • Please be aware that this course focuses predominantly on expressions of disease in the human skeleton and as such, may be confronting to some individuals. Lectures will contain images of deceased people and pathological remains and you will be exposed to real pathological skeletal remains during lectures and labs. If a lecture or lab is too much, please feel free to take a break and return to class when you are able. Information on where to get additional support is provided above under 'SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS.'

Lecture Format

  • Lectures for this course will include a traditional lecture component for the first hour, and a case study exercise and group discussion/Q&A in the second hour. The case study exercises are designed to help you learn paleopathological methods prior to attending the labs, where you will focus on completing data collection for your differential diagnosis assessment. The group discussion/Q&A portions of the lecture provide you with the opportunity to ask questions to solidify your understanding of anything you are unsure about, check you are on the right track with your differential diagnosis, and to extend your learning outside of the lecture content. You are strongly encouraged to take part in these sessions.
  • EAP students may choose to complete the case studies independently on Wattle if they choose. A Padlet will always be be provided during discussion sessions so that people can ask questions or share insights anonymously and/or in a way that is comfortable for them.


  • Where possible you will be required to attend labs in person in the Biological Anthropology lab on campus (Banks 2.39, Banks Building, 44 Linnaeus Way).
  • You must register for a lab session of your choice on MyTimetable prior to labs beginning in Week 1. Please register early to avoid missing out on your preferred session.
  • During the labs you will analyse skeletal human remains and collect data on skeletal pathologies in these remains for your differential diagnosis report. If you miss a lab due to a situation outside of your control (e.g., sickness), please email your course convenor to discuss attending a make-up session. Please note that forgetting about a lab, sleeping in, or having another assessment due are not considered extenuating circumstances!
  • Extra lab sessions will not be offered for this course to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to complete data collection for the differential diagnosis report.


• This course employs the Harvard referencing style. Where applicable, all assessments must be referenced using this style.

• For examples of Harvard referencing, see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/academic-integrity/referencing/harvard

Class FAQ Forum

  • If you have any questions about the course, please see the Frequently Asked Questions Forum on Wattle. If there are no answers to your questions on the forum, please either post a question in the forum or contact your convenor. All questions asked via email will be edited for anonymity and shared on the forum to build a 'repository of knowledge' for the whole class.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture: Introduction and Skeletal Biology Recap; Lab: Introduction Skeleton 1
2 Lecture: Assessing Pathology in Skeletal Remains; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 1
3 Lecture: Physiological Stress; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 1
4 Lecture: Endocrine Disease; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 1
5 Lecture: Metabolic Disease; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 1
6 Lecture: Joint Disease and Biomechanical Adaptation; Lab: Mid-Semester Literature Test Mid-Semester Literature Test (30%, held in your lab time)
7 Lecture: Care in the Past; Lab: How to Smash Academic Referencing
8 Lecture: Trauma and Violent Death; Lab: Introduction Skeleton 2
9 Lecture: Specific Infectious Disease; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 2
10 Lecture: Non-Specific Infectious Disease; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 2
11 Lecture: Oral Health and Disease; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 2
12 Lecture: Cancer in the Past; Lab: Differential Diagnosis Skeleton 2
13 Semester 2 Exam Period (3-19 November) Differential Diagnosis (35%, due 9am 31st October); Final Exam (35%, time, date and location TBD by Exam Office)

Tutorial Registration

You must register for a lab session of your choice prior to labs beginning in Week 1. To register, please go to MyTimetable. This software enables students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. If you need help with MyTimetable, please see this website.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Mid-Semester Literature Test (Advanced) 30 % 31/08/2022 19/09/2022 3, 4
Differential Diagnosis 35 % 31/10/2022 11/11/2022 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Final Exam (Advanced) 35 % * * 2, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


This course includes a formal final examination (Assessment 3 above). This exam will differ from the 'in-class' assessments included in this course as it is formally scheduled by the

ANU Exam Office, rather than the course convenor. Formal exams are held during the Semester 2 Exam Period (3-19 November); you will learn the exact time and date when the exam

timetables are published around the end of September. You will then be able to access your individual exam timetable at https://exams.anu.edu.au/timetable/. Information about the

exam will also be communicated to you via Wattle and in class as soon as it becomes available. The format of the exam is outlined in the assessment guideline document on Wattle and will be covered in the last lecture of the semester.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 31/08/2022
Return of Assessment: 19/09/2022
Learning Outcomes: 3, 4

Mid-Semester Literature Test (Advanced)

This 50-minute-long literature test will take place during your scheduled lab session in Week 6 and will help you become familiar with key research in the field of paleopathology. The test will be divided into two major parts. The first section will comprise of multi-choice questions assessing your recall and understanding of the six required course readings from Weeks One to Six. In the second section of the test, you will draw on theoretical and practical knowledge you have gained in the Lectures One to Six to critically evaluate small sections of literature. Please also see the assessment guidelines on Wattle for detailed information.

Value: 30% of the final grade for the course

Test Time and Date: Wednesday 31 August in your usual lab time.

Estimated Return Date: Monday 19 September by 5pm

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 31/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 11/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Differential Diagnosis

In the lab sessions for this course you will study two individuals whose skeletons display pathological lesions. In this written assessment, you will summarise your findings for each individual and present a differential diagnosis, in which you will evaluate a range of potential explanations for the abnormal skeletal changes observed. Your eventual diagnosis must consider the epidemiological context of the individuals concerned, which will be provided to you at the beginning of the semester. This assessment will test your ability to examine and diagnose skeletal pathology from archaeological skeletal remains, as well as your skill in critical and creative thinking. Please also see the assessment guidelines on Wattle for detailed information.

Value: 35% of the final grade for the course

Word Limit: 3000 Words (± 10%)

Due Date: 9am Monday 31 October

Estimated Return Date: 5pm Friday 11 November

Assessment Task 3

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4, 5

Final Exam (Advanced)

This two hour long exam will cover theoretical information covered across all lectures from the course. Theoretical components of the course will include key concepts underlying the field of paleopathology (e.g., physiological stress), theoretical models used to study human health and disease, understanding the differences between pathological and non-pathological human variation, understanding how biological processes (e.g. growth, remodelling) vary in pathological contexts, being aware of the biological/theoretical underpinnings of major methods used, and knowing how this information can be used to learn about life in the past. Please also see the assessment guidelines on Wattle for detailed information.

Value: 35% of the final grade for the course

Test Time and Date: To be determined by the Exam Office. Once scheduled, you will be able to find your exam timetable at https://exams.anu.edu.au/timetable/. Exam information will also be communicated to you in class.

Estimated Return Date: To be determined. Once scheduled, this information will be communicated to you in class.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For this course, the in-person mid-semester literature test and final exam will use printed paper scripts. Ensure that you complete the cover sheets provided on the front of the

exam scripts to ensure your test result will be linked to your student ID. During the test time you will complete the questions inside the test script as directed by your demonstrators or exam supervisors. At the conclusion of the test or exam, hand your script in to your demonstrator or exam supervisor as instructed. Please note, any test scripts that leave the room will be invalidated.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment items without an extension is NOT permitted for this course. This means that if you miss an assessment and you have not been granted an

extension, you will fail the assessment. If you are worried about meeting a deadline, please apply for an extension or contact the convenor for advice as soon as you can - it is better to be safe than sorry and we are always happy to help where we can.

Please note that extensions cannot be granted after the due date unless you can demonstrate that you were unable to apply in time due to extenuating circumstances. Information on how to apply for extensions is covered in the ANU Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure and will be explained in the first lecture of the semester.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

  • All grades will be recorded in the Wattle Gradebook
  • You will be able to access assessments submitted to Turninit via the Turnitin Studio in Wattle when all class members have completed the assessment.
  • Hard copy (in person) tests and exams can be viewed by appointment after everyone has completed the assessment.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assessments is not permitted for this course.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Stacey Ward
02 6125 9295

Research Interests

Large Scale Social Transitions, Non-Specific Stress, Prehistoric Southeast Asia, Community and Kinship, Bioarchaeology Education

Dr Stacey Ward

By Appointment
Dr Katharine Balolia
02 6125 9298

Research Interests

Dr Katharine Balolia

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions