Prospective postgraduates

Programme description

This programme gives you the skills to work with human skeletal remains, which are the most direct evidence of past lifeways.


The scientific investigation of human skeletal remains, also known as Bioarchaeology or Biological Anthropology, gives unique insights into human history. Demographic shifts, environmental changes, living conditions, migrations, the spread of diseases and the impact of violence and conflict all leave traces on the skeleton.

The MSc in Human Osteoarchaeology provides students with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to understand these important skeletal biographies and interpret them in their cultural context (biocultural approach), at the individual and the population level, combining theoretical learning with hands-on practice.

The programme draws on a variety of techniques, ranging from visual examination of the whole skeleton to the biomolecular analysis of small bone samples. Students gain invaluable hands-on experience with the School's extensive Scottish skeletal collection.

Teaching and student research projects benefit from our wide range of lab facilities and the programme's close relationship with the nearby National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Edinburgh.


Read what our students say about our Archaeology degrees.

Breadth of expertise

We have a  wide range of expertise covering different areas, time periods and themes, including

  • Bioarchaeology and isotope studies

  • Egyptology

  • Roman and ‘Celtic’ archaeology

  • The Byzantine World and Late Antiquity  

  • Megalithic monuments

  • Prehistory of Europe, the Mediterranean and North-East Africa

  • Early civilisations and urban societies

  • The archaeology of Scotland

  • Cultural heritage and sustainability

  • Digital heritage and heritage policy

  • Archaeomaterials analysis  

  • Human evolution

  • Conflict archaeology

  • Medieval archaeology

  • Computational archaeology

  • Marine and coastal archaeology

  • Buildings archaeology

  • Archaeological survey-Landscape Archaeology

Focal areas of research include:

  • Bioarchaeology/ Human Osteoarchaeology/ Biological Anthropology

  • Human–environment interactions

  • The transition from hunter-gatherer to farming communities

  • The development of complex societies

  • Cultural heritage perspectives on the past, present, and future