Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Human Anatomy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Human Anatomy

My favourite aspect of this programme was actually learning anatomy by dissection. You get to dissect a full cadaver over the course of the year.

Mohamed Elajnaf MSc Human Anatomy Graduate 2018

This 12-month programme offers a rare opportunity to learn anatomy from dissection and experience in teaching human anatomy. This is an ideal stepping-stone to a career in anatomy teaching and research.

With this highly regarded qualification you will gain major transferable skills through an intensive on-campus dissection course and develop teaching experience at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

What will you study?

This programme has two main strands.

Develop your in-depth knowledge of human anatomy through dissection

Anatomical knowledge will be learned to a level to teach undergraduate and postgraduate students and professions allied to medicine. This strand will involve the dissection of a body in groups of three to five students over two semesters.

A major component of this course involves self-directed learning. When there are no scheduled lectures or tutorials, students are required to spend their time in the lab, fully engaged in the process of dissecting and learning anatomy from their assigned dissected body.

Additionally, there will be regular "surgeries" where teaching staff will be present to offer guidance and support during the dissections.

Learn to teach anatomy

The second strand is anatomy teaching, covering the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching anatomy to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Alongside theoretical lectures and workshops in the first semester, you will focus on observing the teaching of anatomy to medical undergraduate students.

In the second semester you will be involved in preparing and carrying out teaching sessions to both small and large groups of students. You will compile an end-of-year teaching portfolio based on:

  • the theoretical material you learn
  • the observations you make
  • the practical experience you have gained
  • the experience that you will gain can be used towards an application as associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Embryology course

Complementing these strands will be a lecture-based embryology course. This will provide you with an understanding of normal human development and how normal development can go wrong, manifested in commonly observed congenital abnormalities.

You will also study:

  • Neuroanatomy
  • Embryology
  • Anatomy law and ethics
  • Medical imaging
  • The health and safety of embalming procedures and handling bodies
  • The legal and historical aspects of anatomy in Scotland and the UK
  • An introduction to the ethics of using bodies in medical education

The programme is made up of five courses plus a summer dissertation project.

The courses Basic Human Anatomy, Imaging, Embryology 1 and Basic Human Anatomy, Imaging, Embryology 2 make up the majority of the degree with 40 credits each.

The teaching anatomy course is 20 credits whereas the other courses are 10 credit courses that are spread out over two semesters as follows (10 credits equal 100 hours of work):

Semester 1

  • Basic Human Anatomy, Imaging and Embryology 1 (40 credits): Provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the anatomy of the upper/lower limbs and thorax, incorporating:

    • gross anatomy
    • surface anatomy
    • medical imaging
    • embryology
  • Anatomy Law and Ethics (10 credits): Divided into 3 parts:

    • health and safety of anatomy and body handling
    • the legislation that governs the activities of anatomy departments both in Scotland and throughout the UK
    • the ethics of using human material for the teaching of anatomy

Semester 2

  • Basic Human Anatomy, Imaging and Embryology 2 (40 credits): Provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the anatomy of the abdomen, pelvis and head and neck, incorporating:

    • gross anatomy
    • surface anatomy
    • medical imaging
    • embryology
  • Neuroanatomy (10 credits): Gross anatomy of the:

    • central and peripheral nervous systems
    • sensory and motor pathways
    • cranial nerves
    • spinal cord
    • spinal nerves
    • autonomic nervous system

Summer period

  • Dissertation Project: 10,000 word dissertation and oral presentation (60 credits)

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is by lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Courses are assessed by either, or a combination of:

  • oral examinations
  • essays
  • multiple choice question exams
  • extended matching question exams
  • presentations
  • practical anatomy exams

Diploma in Human Anatomy

You have the option to finish after the second semester graduating with a Diploma in Human Anatomy, or to gain your masters by completing a summer dissertation project that can be either library-, practical- or laboratory-based.

More information on anatomy at the University can be found on our website:

Should you face delays due to valid reasons such as visa issues, and therefore be unable to commence the MSc Human Anatomy programme on time, a one-week delay may be permitted with the Programme Director's consent.

(Revised 26 October 2023 to add guidance for students who are delayed starting the programme)

Video recording of the lectures pertaining to this programme is prohibited.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScHuman Anatomy1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

This programme has been designed to help you gain a highly regarded qualification in anatomy and the teaching of anatomy.

It will provide you with a set of major transferable skills such as:

  • dissecting experience
  • teaching experience
  • expertise in health and safety
  • anatomy law and ethics

This programme can therefore open up possibilities in, for example, anatomy teaching, anatomy laboratories, further studies in medical and biomedical sciences, further research leading to a PhD, and many more increasing your long-term career prospects.

Our students come to us from all over the world with a huge range of expertise. Many students will go on to anatomy teaching positions in academic institutes within the UK or overseas. Some continue in research by achieving funding for a PhD position. A number of our students choose to study medicine.

Anatomy expertise with a rich history

There is a long and distinguished tradition of anatomy teaching in Edinburgh, reaching back to 1505 and the first recorded use of a body for dissection. Today our courses are taught by leading academics who are passionate about teaching and research, and who are making an impact on an international level.

Outstanding facilities

The department has undergone extensive refurbishment and is well equipped with facilities to preserve, maintain and use fixed and frozen human material for both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. We have a recently established Research and Development Area, which is used by external clinical companies and surgeons for training and research purposes.

World Leading Research

The University of Edinburgh is fourth in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research with its qualifications valued internationally. The 2021 Research Excellence Framework exercise results reveal that nearly 90 per cent of the University’s research activity is in the highest categories, which are classified respectively as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent.’ Edinburgh is home to numerous highly respected research centres, which many of our academics are active members of. These include the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences and the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research.

Christopher Callaghan

Christina Loukopoulou

Montserrat Rayman Silva

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a medical, biomedical or relevant bioscience subject, or other subject allied to medicine.

We may also consider applicants with a UK 2:1 or 2:2 honours degree or its international equivalent, if you have other qualifications with relevant work experience, normally of at least one year; for example if you have human anatomy work experience (i.e. human anatomy tutor, demonstrator, dissector etc) or in medical and paramedical fields. Please contact the programme team to check before you apply.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:


You will need to pay this non-refundable deposit before an unconditional offer can be made.

  • £200 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fee deposits can be paid here using the University's online payment facility, ePay:

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScHuman Anatomy1 YearFull-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
  • Chancellor's Building
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 26 July 2024

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
  • Chancellor's Building
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB