• 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
  • Work Integrated Learning Simulation/Virtual
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Stacey Ward
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

See https://www.anu.edu.au/covid-19-advice. This course includes on campus/in person activities that cannot be adjusted for remote participants.

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:

  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.

Work Integrated Learning


Students spend the semester conducting data collection on diseases in human remains and complete a paleopathological assessment, simulating the activities they would perform in a professional or research capacity while still in a learning environment.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Mid-semester Literature Test (One Hour) (30) [LO 2,3,4]
  2. 10-Minute Oral Presentation (35) [LO 2,4]
  3. Differential Diagnosis (2000 words) (35) [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 labs; 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 BIAN2015 Human Skeletal Analysis and a further 6 units of Anthropology (ANTH), Archaeology (ARCH), Biological Anthropology (BIAN), or Biology (BIOL) courses, or you may obtain permission to enrol from the convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed BIAN6512 Ancient Health and Disease.

Prescribed Texts

There are no prescribed texts for this course.

Preliminary Reading

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.  

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 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
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
7944 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person View

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