• Class Number 2527
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In-Person and Online
    • Dr Stacey Ward
    • Dr Clare McFadden
    • Dr Laura Wilson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course offers students training in the anatomy of the human skeleton and techniques used in biological profiling from skeletal remains. Students will be taught a range of skeletal biology techniques used to estimate age-at-death, biological sex, stature, and bone functional adaptation. We will cover the development, form, and function of human hard tissues (bones and teeth). Acquired skills will be of value to any students interested in skeletal studies including vertebrate biology, comparative skeletal anatomy, medicine, palaeontology, human and primate evolution, forensic sciences and archaeology.

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. Describe and explain advanced human skeletal structure: name and define hard tissues and their parts at a macroscopic (gross) and microscopic (histological) level;
  2. Describe and explain advanced fundamentals of human skeletal growth and metabolic processes in a developmental and functional context;
  3. Gain practical experience and develop skills in identification and analysis of human skeletal tissues;
  4. Outline the ethical treatment of human skeletal remains, and be able to recall key professional documents stipulating the code of ethics, guidance on care and curation of human remains; and
  5. Critically evaluate, in a written format, one method used in the analysis of human skeletal remains. 

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

  • All exams and tests for this course are closed-book. As such, study materials are not permitted during lab tests, practical exams, or final exams.
  • We will supply any equipment required for the mid-semester lab practical test - just bring yourself, your lab coat, your student ID card, and a pen!

Required Resources

Core Textbook:

Lab Equipment:

  • Lab coats show respect to the dead and also protect 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).

The following titles are not compulsory reading, but will provide extra background information that may assist you in completing this course:

  • White, TD, Black, MT, Folkens, PA. 2012. Human osteology. Amsterdam: Academic Press.
  • Bass, WM. 2005. Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual. Columbia, Missouri: Missouri Archaeological Society.
  • Scheuer L, Black S, and Christie A. 2000. Developmental Juvenile Osteology. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Hillson S. 1996. Dental Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Larsen CS. 2015. Bioarchaeology: Interpreting Behavior from the Human Skeleton. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Staff Feedback

  • Written (via Wattle) comments on lab quizzes and online versions of the mid-semester test.
  • Verbal comments on hardcopy mid-semester tests (test scripts can be viewed by appointment)
  • General written and verbal feedback to the class/group/lab/individuals via Wattle and in lectures
  • All grades will be recorded in the Wattle Gradebook

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


  • 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 Wattle prior to labs beginning in Week 1. Please register early to avoid missing out on your preferred session.
  • An online lab will be also be provided via Zoom for those that cannot attend in person due to health and safety concerns, or who are stuck off campus as a result of COVID restrictions. Please note, online labs are to be prioritized for those that cannot attend in person. If you have no medical concerns or current illness, and are nearby, you are encouraged to attend in person. All labs will be operated under COVIDSafe protocols to ensure health and safety.
  • If you miss a lab, please indepedently complete the lab worksheet for that week using the learning materials and model answers provided on Wattle. If you still have questions after consulting the model answers, feel free to get in touch with any of the teaching staff.

Assigned Course Readings:

  • This course involves assigned (required) readings, which must completed prior to each lecture.
  • These readings will provide you with critical background knowledge for each lecture and increase your understanding of key course concepts.
  • The reading list for this course is available on Wattle.
  • All readings are available via the library website or as PDFs on Wattle.


Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture: Introduction; Lab: Postcranial Anatomy 1
2 Lecture: Postcranial Anatomy; Lab: Postcranial Anatomy 2
3 Lecture: Cranial and Dental Anatomy; Lab: Cranial and Dental Anatomy Lab Test 1 (8%, on Week 1 and 2 Material)
4 Lecture: Joints and Muscles; Lab: Joints and Muscles Lab Test 2 (8%, on Week 3 Material)
5 Lecture: Movement and Habitual Behaviour; Lab: Habitual Behaviour Lab Test 3 (8%, on Week 4 Material)
6 Lecture: Ethics and Repatriation; Lab: Mid-Semester Practical Test Mid-Semester Practical Test (20%, in Lab Time)
7 Lecture: Skeletal Development and Microstructure; Lab: Skeletal Development and Microstructure
8 Lecture: Subadult Age Estimation; Lab: Subadult Age Estimation Lab Test 4 (8%, on Week 7 Material)
9 Lecture: Adult Age Estimation; Lab: Adult Age Estimation
10 Lecture: Sex Estimation; Lab: Sex Estimation Lab Test 5 (8%, on Week 9 Material)
11 Lecture: Biodistance and Ancestry; Lab: Ancestry Debate
12 Lecture: Stature and Mass and Exam Information; Lab: Stature and Mass Written Methods Evaluation (10%) due 9am, Monday 30 May
13 Semester 1 Exam Period: 2-18 June 2021 Final Examination (30%), date and time 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, select the lab stream you wish to attend via the lab self-selection activity provided on Wattle.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
5 x Online Lab Tests 40 % * * 1, 2, 3
Mid-Semester Practical Test 20 % * * 1, 2, 3
Written Methods Evaluation 10 % 30/05/2022 03/06/2022 5
Final Exam 30 % * * 1, 2, 3, 4

* 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 4 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 1 Exam Period (2-18 June); you will learn the exact time and date when the exam timetables are published around the end of April. 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 will be outlined in the last lecture of the semester.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

5 x Online Lab Tests

These five 15 minute long online tests will examine the knowledge you have gathered from both lab practical sessions and lectures, and are designed to help you learn major concepts, skeletal anatomy terminology, identification, and basic techniques efficiently. These tests will be administered using the Wattle quiz function and will cover material from the week before the test to give you time to revise. Test questions may include identifying and naming bones and bony features from skeletal specimens from photos, siding bones and providing justification using photos and 3D models, applying methods learned in the lab, and explaining the functional significance of certain landmarks.


Further detail on this assessment will be provided on Wattle and in class.


Value: 40% (8% per test).

Note that the percentages for each of the five tests will be summed to determine the portion of the total 50% that you get. This means that the more tests you complete, the more of the 50% you will earn! For example, Jenny sat 3 lab tests, getting marks of 5/10 (4%), 10/10 (8%) and 4/10 (3%) for each test. She received zeroes for the tests she did not complete. The percentages she got for each test were added (4% + 8% + 3% + 0% + 0%), giving her a total of 15% out of the possible 40% for the assessment. This assessment therefore contributed 15% of her final grade for the course. Zorab sat all five tests, getting marks of 9/10 (7%), 10/10 (8%), 8/10 (6%), 10/10 (8%) and 9/10 (7%). When these percentages were added together, Zorab had accumulated 36% of a possible 40% for this assessment, giving him a total of 36% towards his final grade for the course.

Due Dates: Tests will be available on Wattle for 48 hours from the end of your lab on Wednesday 9 March, Wednesday 16 March, Wednesday 23 March, Wednesday 27 April and Wednesday 11 May. Each test will automatically close when the 48 hours has elapsed (i.e., on Friday 11 March, Friday 18 March, Friday 25 March, Friday 29 April and Friday 13 May). This gives you ample time to complete the test and ensures each lab group gets the same amount of preparation time.

Estimated return date: Monday 14 March, Monday 21 March, Monday 28 March, Monday 2 May and Monday 16 May, all by 5pm.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Mid-Semester Practical Test

This one hour long Lab Practical Test will take place during your scheduled lab session in Week 6. The test will assess the practical knowledge you have gained in the labs in Weeks 1-5. The test will be structured as a circuit test. This means that during this test, you will cycle through a series of stations. At each station you will be asked a series of short answer questions. These questions will include identifying and naming bones and bony features from pictures, specimens and models, describing the form and function of certain bony features, siding bones and justifying your answer, and applying methods such as age estimation to skeletal specimens provided. When the buzzer goes, you will move to the next station and answer the next question. This sequence is repeated until you have complete the entire circuit. An online version of this test will be offered to those studying by distance.


Further detail on this assessment will be provided on Wattle and in class.


Value: 20%

Due Dates: Wednesday 30 March in your usual lab time.

Estimated return date: Tuesday 19 April by 5pm

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 30/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 03/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 5

Written Methods Evaluation

You are required to write a short essay providing a critical commentary on one methods paper (references will be revealed throughout the course) from one of the following categories: 


1.   Sex estimation

2.   Adult age-at-death estimation

3.   Sub-adult age-at-death estimation

4.   Stature estimation


This essay will assess your critical thinking and analytical skills.


Further detail on this assessment will be provided on Wattle and in class.


Word count: 600 words (+/- 10%)

Due Date: Monday 30 May by 9am

Value: 10%

Estimated return date: Friday 3 June by 5pm

Presentation requirements: The short essay should be typed, with text sized at 12pt and double spaced. Please provide a word count after the main body of text (i.e. before the reference list). Referencing should follow the Harvard system.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Final Exam

This two hour long exam will cover theoretical information covered across all lectures and labs. Theoretical components of the course include understanding how major skeletal processes (e.g. growth, remodelling) work, understanding the biological, evolutionary, and functional factors underpinning the application of practical methods (e.g. knowing why we are able to conduct a sex estimation from a skeleton), and discussing key issues in human skeletal analysis (e.g. ethical considerations).

Specific information on the exam will be provided on Wattle and in the final lecture for the course.

Value: 30%

Due Date: TBD by the Exam Office

Estimated return date: TBD

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 practical 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. 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 a test or exam and you have not been granted an extension to sit the test at another time, you will fail this assessment. 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 will be provided 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
  • Online test scripts and feedback will be returned via Wattle when all class members have completed the test.
  • Hard copy (in person) tests and exams can be viewed by appointment after everyone has completed the test.

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

Social Inequality, Non-Specific Stress, Prehistoric Southeat Asia, Gender, Bioarchaeology Education

Dr Stacey Ward

Monday 11:00 12:00
Thursday 11:00 12:00
Dr Clare McFadden
02 6125 5331

Research Interests

Dr Clare McFadden

By Appointment
Dr Laura Wilson
02 6125 8226

Research Interests

Dr Laura Wilson

By Appointment

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