• Class Number 2344
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Stacey Ward
    • AsPr Laura Wilson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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:

  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

  • Assessments are limited open-book for this course. You are permitted to bring ONE SINGLE-SIDED, HANDWRITTEN A4 PAGE of notes with you into the assessments. All notes must be in your own words. You may include diagrams on your notes page, as long as these are also hand-drawn. If you find handwriting tricky due to an EAP condition, you are welcome to type this page and print it out, using a minimum font size of 12pt and 2cm margins.
  • We will supply any equipment required for the mid-semester practical test, including any standards (you are not required to memorise these). 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 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 $35.
  • 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:

  • Christesen, A. M., Passalacqua, N. V. & Bartelink, E. J. 2019 (eds.) Forensic Anthropology: Current Methods and Practice (Second Edition). San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Cunningham, C., Scheuer, L. & Black, S. 2016. Development Juvenile Osteology (2nd Edition), London, Academic Press.
  • Hillson S. 1996. Dental Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hillson, S. 2005. Teeth. 2nd Edition., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Larsen CS. 2015. Bioarchaeology: Interpreting Behavior from the Human Skeleton. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Staff Feedback

You will receive the following feedback on assessments:

  • Correct answers for online quizzes.
  • The mid-semester test questions are embargoed, so your scripts will not be returned to you. However, you are very welcome to come and view your scripts and receive verbal feedback by appointment. An overall summary of how the class went will be shared in class and via the Wattle noticeboard.
  • Feedback for the final assessment will be released on Wattle after the final marks have been released for the course. The semester 1 marks release date is 27 June.
  • General written and verbal feedback will be given to the class via the Wattle noticeboard 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

Lab Registration, Attendance, and Etiquette

  • You must attend one 90 minute lab a week as part of this course. Labs are on Wednesdays, with sessions offered at 9am, 10:30am, 12pm, and 1:30pm. Please register for one lab session of your choice prior to labs beginning in Week 1. If you miss out on your preferred lab, it is your responsibility to find another lab session that suits you - labs are capped at 20 attendees and this cannot be changed/increased to accommodate individuals. Please register early to avoid missing out on your preferred session.
  • Labs will be held in the Biological Anthropology lab on campus (Banks 2.39, Banks Building, 44 Linnaeus Way). Please wear a clean white lab coat to the lab.
  • Where possible you are strongly encouraged to attend labs in person.
  • We have limited materials available in the lab as real bones are rare and precious, and models are expensive! Although we provide as many examples of skeletal anatomy as we can and supplement these with printed images where needed, please make sure you share resources and actively move around the lab to ensure everyone gets a go with these materials.
  • Group work in the lab is encouraged as learning with other people can really boost your knowledge!
  • If you miss a lab, please independently 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 readings for each week are listed under 'Weekly Activities' on Wattle.
  • All readings are available via the library website or as PDFs on Wattle.


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

BIAN2015/6517 Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below for the answers to commonly asked Human Skeletal Analysis questions! If you have questions that are not answered below, please check the Class Summary and Wattle (e.g., assessment guidelines, noticeboards) for information. If you cannot find the answer, please feel free to post your question to the 'Questions About the Course' thread in the 'Student Chat' section on Wattle.

I’ve missed a lab as I was unwell. What do I do?

You can catch up by completing the lab worksheet you have missed using the resources on Wattle. Model answers will be released at the start of the following week so that you can check you are on the right track. If you still have questions at this point, feel free to contact the teaching team for assistance.

If you are going to miss a test due to illness, you must apply for an extension before the due date if you are able. Apply at the following link: https://cass-seo.anu.edu.au/. If you cannot apply before the due date and apply late, you must include an explanation of why your extension request is late in your application.

I’ve missed a lecture as I was unwell. What do I do?

Please watch the lecture recording available in Echo360 to catch yourself up.

Help! I forgot about the test!

If you were sick or can argue that you had extenuating circumstances that caused you to miss the test, you may apply for an extension. You will need to provide evidence to support your request. If you have simply forgotten about the test, we are sadly unable to help you. We recommend saving all the test dates into your calendar to avoid pain, and we will give reminders over the Wattle noticeboard and in classes to help you. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with both notices and lectures so you are receiving these reminders.

I had to work and missed the test, can you help?

You are notified of all the test dates two weeks before class starts so that you can arrange your work shifts around your university commitments. As such, work is not a valid reason for missing the test. The only exception is where you have been called in by your work for an emergency. In this case you may apply for extension. You will need to supply evidence from your employer (e.g. a letter from your supervisor or boss) that your work commitments were unavoidable.

How do I apply for an extension?

 Please apply for an assessment extension before the due date. You will need to supply supporting documentation with your application, e.g., a doctor’s certificate. If you are unable to apply before the due date, you will also need to provide an explanation documenting the reasons preventing you from doing so (e.g., in hospital very sick). This also must be supported by documentary evidence.


How are the lab test marks calculated?

The 5 x online lab tests are worth 10% each for a total of 50% of the course grade for BIAN2015 students and 8% each for a total 40% of the course grade for BIAN6517 students. The percentages for each of the five tests will be summed to determine the portion of the total that you get. This means that the more tests you complete, the more of the total you will earn!

For example, Jenny from BIAN2015 sat 3 lab tests, getting marks of 5/10 (5%), 10/10 (10%) and 4/10 (4%) for each test. She received zeroes for the tests she did not complete. The percentages she got for each test were added (5% + 10% + 4% + 0% + 0%), giving her a total of 19% out of the possible 50% for the assessment. This assessment therefore contributed 19% of her final grade for the course.

Zorab, who is taking BIAN2015, sat all five tests, getting marks of 9/10 (9%), 10/10 (10%), 8/10 (8%), 10/10 (10%) and 9/10 (9%). When these percentages were added together, Zorab had accumulated 46% of a possible 50% for this assessment, giving him a total of 46% towards his final grade for the course.

What will happen with lectures on public holidays? Will we have make-up classes?

We have one lecture on public holiday this semester (Monday 11th March). For this week, you will be provided with a lecture recording on the Tuesday instead. As such, there are no make-up classes scheduled. It's recommended that you try and watch these as soon as you get a chance, as there are also lab tests in some weeks with public holidays. 

I have an unavoidable clash during the lectures/labs, what should I do?

Short-term lecture clashes can be managed by watching lecture recordings, or getting notes from your friends.

If you miss a lab, you can catch up by completing the lab worksheet using the resources on Wattle. Model answers will be released at the start of the following week so that you can check you are on the right track. If you still have questions at this point, feel free to contact the teaching team for assistance.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture: Introduction and Anatomy Basics; Lab: Postcranial Anatomy 1
2 Lecture: Postcranial Anatomy; Lab: Postcranial Anatomy 2
3 Lecture: Cranial and Dental Anatomy; Lab: Cranial and Dental Anatomy Online Quiz 1 (10%, on Week 1 and 2 Material)
4 Lecture: Joints and Muscles; Lab: Joints and Muscles Online Quiz (10%, on Week 3 Material)
5 Lecture: Movement and Habitual Behaviour; Lab: Habitual Behaviour Online Quiz (10%, 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 Online Quiz (10%, on Week 7 Material)
9 Lecture: Adult Age Estimation; Lab: Adult Age Estimation
10 Lecture: Sex Estimation; Lab: Sex Estimation Online Quiz (10%, on Week 9 Material)
11 Lecture: Biodistance and Ancestry; Lab: Repatriation Debate
12 Lecture: Stature and Mass and Exam Information; Lab: Stature and Mass Written Methodological Evaluation (10%)
13 Semester 1 Exam Period: 1-17 June Fictive Narrative and Reflection (30%)

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
5 x Online Quizzes 50 % * * 1,2,3
Mid-Semester Practical Test 20 % * * 1,2,3
Written Methods Evaluation 10 % 20/05/2024 24/05/2024 5
Fictive Osteobiographical Narrative and Reflection 30 % 28/05/2024 27/06/2024 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.


There are no participation grades for this course and it is up to you, as independent adults, whether you come to lecture or labs. However, I strongly encourage you to attend as many of these as you can to help you keep up with the course content, especially for the first few weeks of the course. It's also just nice to see your faces! If you are unable to make lectures or labs, it is possible to catch these up on Wattle. Please see the course FAQs below for more information.


All assessments are 'internal' for this course and there is no formal, final examination.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 50 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

5 x Online Quizzes

These five 15 minute long online tests will examine the knowledge you have gathered from lab practical sessions, readings, 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 will be multi-choice and may include identifying and naming bones and bony features 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 (fancy speak for 'what a landmark does').


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 from BIAN2015 (where tests are worth 10%) sat 3 lab tests, getting marks of 5/10 (5%), 10/10 (10%) and 4/10 (4%) for each test. She received zeroes for the tests she did not complete. The percentages she got for each test were added together (5% + 10% + 4% + 0% + 0%), giving her a total of 19% out of the possible 50% for the assessment. This assessment therefore contributed 19% of her final grade for the course. Zorab sat all five tests, getting marks of 9/10 (9%), 10/10 (10%), 8/10 (8%), 10/10 (10%) and 9/10 (9%). When these percentages were added together, Zorab had accumulated 46% of a possible 50% for this assessment, giving him a total of 46% 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 6 March, Wednesday 13 March, Wednesday 20 March, Wednesday 24 April and Wednesday 8 May. Each test will automatically close when the 48 hours has elapsed (i.e., on Friday 8 March, Friday 15 March, Friday 22 March, Friday 26 April and Friday 10 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: Marks will be returned weekly, on Monday 11 March, Monday 18 March, Monday 25 March, Monday 29 April and Monday 13 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 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 (i.e., there will be no list of answers to choose from, just a blank space for you to write your answers in). 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. Test questions will include identifying and naming bones and bony features from pictures, specimens and models, identifying tooth types and whether they are upper or lower, identifying different types of joints and their function, describing the form and function of certain bony features, and siding bones and justifying your answer.

You are advised to start early on your study for this test as it requires you to know skeletal anatomy 'off the top of your head' - there are no lists of answers to help you as in multi-choice tests, though you are permitted some notes with you in the test (please see above). Attending as many labs as you can will be very helpful, as you get a chance to practice with all the skeletal specimens you will see in the test. Many people also find it useful to revise each week's content as they go, as this prevents you having a pile up of information to learn the week of the test! Finally, the short online tests (please see above) will help you identify areas that you might need to work on.


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


Value: 20%

Due Dates: Wednesday 27 March in your usual lab time.

Estimated return date: Monday 15 April by 5pm

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 20/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 24/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 5

Written Methods Evaluation

For this task, you are required to write a short essay critiquing a methods article of your choice. This essay will be in the style of a 'brief commentary' or 'technical note'. References will be provided throughout the course to help you choose. 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%)

Value: 10%

Due Date: 9am Monday 20 May

Estimated return date: Friday 24 May by 5pm

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 28/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 27/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Fictive Osteobiographical Narrative and Reflection

For this assessment, you must produce a fictive narrative (2000 words) and an accompanying reflective report (1500 words). A fictive narrative is a piece of creative writing similar to a historical fiction novel. The historical background, lifestyle, and cultural beliefs of an individual or society are all meticulously researched, and combined with the information obtained through an osteobiography to recreate an individual’s life in the style of a fictional story. Simulated osteobiography data (i.e., a report outlining the age, sex, ancestry, stature, and additional identifying features of the individual will be provided to you via Wattle. This approach rehumanises skeletal remains and provides an accessible way for the public to engage with bioarchaeological research. Alongside your fictive narrative you must also provide a short reflective report outlining how you conducted the background research to your story and the interpretive choices you made in your storytelling (e.g., how you interpreted the skeletal data provided or accommodated error/uncertainty in the osteobiographical data, why you chose to portray a society in a certain way). This assessment will evaluate your research, writing, and creative thinking skills.

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

Word count: 3500

Value: 30%

Due Date: 9am Tuesday 28 May

Estimated return date: The results and feedback for this final assessment will not be released on Wattle until after Semester 1 marks release on 27 June, as per Section 37 of the ANU student assessment policy.

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

You will complete the in-person mid-semester test will using printed paper scripts. Ensure that you complete the cover sheets provided on the front of the test 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 assessment and you have not been granted an extension to sit the test/submit the assessment at another time, you will fail this assessment. To apply for an extension, please complete an application through the CASS Extension Request Portal on or before the assessment due date. Please note that you must provide documentation to support your application and that extensions cannot be granted after the due date unless you can demonstrate that extenuating circumstances stopped you applying on time. Reminders about test and assessment dates will be provided via the Wattle Noticeboard and in lectures to support you in completing these assessments. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with these notices.

  • Instructions on how to use the application portal can be found here.
  • To learn more about how extensions work at the ANU, please see the ANU coursework extension Policy and Procedure.

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 will be returned via Wattle when all class members have completed the test.
  • The methods evaluation will be returned to you via Turnitin in Wattle.
  • Hard copy (in person) tests 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 3362

Research Interests

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

Dr Stacey Ward

By Appointment
AsPr Laura Wilson
02 6125 8226

Research Interests

AsPr Laura Wilson

By Appointment

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