• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Forensic Anthropology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Anna Florin
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2025
    See Future Offerings

This course provides an overview of the biomolecular techniques used by archaeologists and anthropologists to understand the past. These methods now form the basis for some of the highest impact research in our field. The course will explore the ethics of biomolecular research, and the principles underlying the main stable isotope, DNA, proteomic and lipid residue methods used within these fields. It will discuss how these are used to investigate questions about our past. For example, how stable isotopes have been used to understand early farming practices and how aDNA has revealed interbreeding between different species of hominins. Where possible students will be given the opportunity to visit laboratories at the ANU, and will be taught the fundamentals of data analysis. The course will focus on evaluating the quality of a dataset and whether it can answer specific archaeological/ anthropological questions.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. understand the principles underpinning the biomolecular techniques used by archaeologists and anthropologists;
  2. explain how these methods are used to answer questions in archaeology and biological anthropology;
  3. construct scientific hypotheses in archaeological/ anthropological biomolecular research;
  4. critically assess whether published datasets can answer archaeological or anthropological research questions; and
  5. communicate this critical assessment to the student's peer group.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short answer test (30) [LO 1,2]
  2. Workshop oral presentation (15) [LO 3,4,5]
  3. Workshop poster (20) [LO 3,4,5]
  4. Essay (3000 words) (35) [LO 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 hrs of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of lectures and seminars delivered intensively over 10 days, and

b) 94 hrs of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable

Preliminary Reading

Bentley, R.A., 2006. Strontium Isotopes from the Earth to the Archaeological Skeleton: A Review. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 13 (3), 135-187.

Lee-Thorp, J.A., 2008. On Isotopes and Old Bones. Archaeometry 50 (6), 925-950.

Makarewicz, C.A. and Sealy, J., 2015. Dietary reconstruction, mobility, and the analysis of ancient skeletal tissues: Expanding the prospects of stable isotope research in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 56, 146-158.

Tobler, R. et al., 2017. Aboriginal mitogenomes reveal 50,000 years of regionalism in Australia, Nature, 544, 180-184.

Hendy, J., 2021. Ancient protein analysis in archaeology. Science Advances, 7, eabb9214

Craig, O.E. et al., 2020. Residue analysis. in Archaeological Science: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 70-96

Assumed Knowledge

Familiarity with archaeological science and the application of science to archaeology and/or anthropology. No specific knowledge will be assumed, but the course will develop scientific understanding.


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
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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6346 01 Jul 2025 18 Jul 2025 18 Jul 2025 30 Sep 2025 In Person N/A

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