• 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
  • Work Integrated Learning Fieldwork

This course offers students a broad introduction to the fields of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. Students will be trained in recovering forensic evidence using archaeological methods, both practically (as part of field training) and theoretically. The basics of human biological profile reconstruction will also be taught in a lab setting. We will cover a variety of topics that pertain to crime scene investigation, including how to identify and analyse skeletonised human remains. This course focuses solely on medico-legal contexts of human remains, with examples from domestic and international cases. Students will gain a set of skills necessary, and appropriate in terms of the requirements of the Australian medico-legal professions, for the practical management and excavation of a body/crime scene.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. reconstruct a basic biological profile from a set of human skeletal remains;
  2. recover forensic evidence using archaeological methods as part of a mock excavation in the field;
  3. analyse and report forensic evidence in a written format;
  4. describe, explain, and critically evaluate methods used in Forensic Anthropology; and
  5. discuss and construct an academic argument around an issue/issues in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology case(s).

Work Integrated Learning


Students undertake a mock crime scene excavation and complete assessment using the data they have collected. Provides key practical and analytical training required for a career in forensics.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Mock Conference Poster (500 words) (35) [LO 4,5]
  2. 5 x Lab Book Entries (One entry a week for five weeks; 200 words per week) (25) [LO 2,3]
  3. Crime Scene Investigation Report (2500 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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) 37 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 22 hours of lectures, 11 hours of laboratories, and 4 hours of field training*; and

b) 93 hours of independent student research, reading, and writing.

*Please note that participation in the field training (mock excavation) is mandatory. The times and dates of the excavation will be confirmed at the beginning of semester, but it is likely that the excavation will be repeated each morning and afternoon from Monday to Wednesday in Week 6. Each student participates in the excavation for one half-day only (8am-12 noon or 1-5pm). The allocation of students to a particular excavation session is undertaken at the start of the course to account for each student's Week 6 commitments as far as possible.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level Anthropology (ANTH), Archaeology (ARCH), Biological Anthropology (BIAN) or Biology (BIOL) courses, or with permission of the convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed BIAN6515.

Prescribed Texts

Students are required to have their own copy of the following text book: White TD, and Folkens PA. 2005. The Human Bone Manual. Boston: Academic Press. This book is invaluable for helping with learning skeletal anatomy and for aiding bone identification in field and lab settings. A detailed list of course readings will be uploaded to Wattle prior to the start of semester.

Preliminary Reading

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.

Assumed Knowledge

Prior knowledge of the human skeleton and biological profiling (e.g., age and sex estimation from the skeleton) is advantageous for this course. Students wishing to develop this knowledge are encouraged to take BIAN2015 Human Skeletal Analysis prior to enrolling.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable 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. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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
8697 21 Jul 2025 28 Jul 2025 31 Aug 2025 24 Oct 2025 In Person N/A

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