Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc/MSc by Research/PgDip

Full-time/Part-time

  • Emphasis on practical and hands-on aspects
  • Start date - September
  • Designed for full or part-time study
  • Modular structure
Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology

This course is designed to give a broad introduction to the subject, rapidly advancing into the understanding of cutting-edge research and the latest methodologies. The course is highly practical and hands-on, aiming to produce forensic experts with a strong background to later enter the field and be capable of giving expert witness testimonies in a courtroom situation and elsewhere. 

The course consists of a two-week period of introductory studies followed by academic instruction in modular form. Most modules are of five days' duration, interspersed with weeks devoted to private study and visits to forensic science establishments. 

The Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc is part of the Forensic MSc Programme which has been formally accredited by the The Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences.





Course overview

The course consists of a one-week period of introductory studies followed by academic instruction in modular form. Most modules are of five days' duration, interspersed with weeks devoted to private study. Students are required to take four core modules, four role specific modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements or interests. This is followed by a four-month research project and either a thesis or literature review and paper.




Individual Project

The individual project takes four months from April to July. The student selects from a range of titles, or may propose their own topic. Most are practically or experimentally based using Cranfield’s unique facilities.

Modules

Students are required to take eight core modules and choose three elective modules based on their particular background, future requirements, or interests.

This is followed by a four-month research project and thesis.

Core

  • Analytical Techniques
    Module LeaderDr David Lane - Reader in Analytical Physics and Advance
    Syllabus
    • Laboratory accreditation and standard operating procedures
    • Specimen collection and sample preparation
    • Mass/volume of interaction
    • Materials identification by X-ray diffraction
    • Special techniques used in X-ray diffraction
    • X-ray fluorescence
    • Electron microscopy and micro-analysis
    • Optical microscopy
    • Spectroscopic methods: Infrared and Raman spectroscopy
    • Mass spectrometry
    • Chromatographic and other separation methods: GC, HPLC, CE
    • Hyphenated techniques
    • Isotope ratios and carbon dating
    • DNA profiling.
    • Hardness measurements (micro- and nano-hardness)
    • Radiography.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Describe the fundamental principles of a wide range of analytical techniques
    • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different analytical techniques and apply them to the identification and characterization of materials
    • Practically apply analytical techniques and interpret their results with appropriate regard to experimental uncertainty
    • Critically assess experimental data and evaluate through comparison to other samples and reference materials
    • Present analytical results in a clear and concise written report.
  • Courtroom Skills
    Syllabus
    • Role and legal responsibilities of the forensic expert
    • Civil and criminal procedure rules
    • Excellence in report and statement writing
    • Presentation of evidence in court
    • Preparation for examination-in-chief and cross-examination.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Define the role and responsibilities of the expert witness
    • Construct an effective expert witness report
    • Develop the skills to present oral evidence in court effectively and respond successfully to cross-examination.
  • Forensic Archaeology: Mass Grave Excavation
    Module LeaderMr Roland Wessling - Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology & Anthropology
    Syllabus

    Day 1         Classroom based teaching

    Day 2         Site assessment and setup

    Day 3-6       Site excavation

    Day 7          Site closure and exercise debrief.

    • Basic principles and structure of mass grave investigations
    • Methodology of mass grave excavations
    • Operational and logistical challenges in mass grave investigations
    • Recovery of surface evidence at mass grave/mass killing sites
    • Recovery of human remains in a mass grave context
    • Recovery of buried evidence associated with human remains.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

    • Adapt their methodologies to a single or mass grave environment
    • Understand the role of the forensic archaeologist and anthropologist within a forensic and criminal investigation team in a mass fatality investigation framework
    • Recover surface and buried evidence as well as human remains as part of a wider forensic investigation
    • Interpret non-material, forensic archaeological evidence in mass grave structures, such as tool marks
    • Interpret the site history in order to reconstruct the series of events that lead to the existence of the grave and the positioning of the victims and evidence.
  • Forensic Archaeology: Recovering Buried Remains
    Module LeaderDr Karl Harrison - Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology
    Syllabus
    • The development of Forensic Archaeology in both UK and international contexts
    • The science and study of deception
    • Search and location
    • Grave digging practical
    • Principles of geophysics
    • Police search techniques
    • Cadaver dog use
    • Principles of surveying
    • Stratigraphy and recording
    • Scatter scenes
    • Scavenger behaviour
    • Running a forensic excavation
    • Recording and planning.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

    • Evaluate and critically assess the development of forensic archaeology and its current application on UK and international crime scenes
    • Understand key concepts in forensic taphonomy and consider how these may effect the nature and response of human remains
    • Identify the main techniques used in the location of buried objects and evaluate their usefulness in different terrains and against different target types
    • Discriminate between different features that appear on geophysical surveys and deduce their likely archaeological causes
    • Recognise the importance of stratigraphy and be able to use simple archaeological recording techniques to accurately describe that stratigraphy and interpret how it might have been caused
    • Recognise the practical aspects of setting up a forensic excavation and their implications.
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Anthropology: Osteology
    Module LeaderDr Nicholas Marquez-Grant - Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology
    Syllabus
    • History of forensic anthropology
    • The place of forensic anthropology in a criminal investigation
    • Types of information that forensic anthropology reveals and an assessment of its reliability
    • Determining human from non-human bones
    • Identifying minimum number of individuals
    • Basic human skeletal anatomy
    • Determination of age and sex of an individual from juvenile and adult skeletal remains
    • Determination of stature from whole and fragmentary remains
    • Assessment of ethnic ancestry
    • Basic dentition
    • The limitations of skeletal analysis.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Explain the role of biological anthropology in forensic science
    • Recognise, name and accurately describe any human bone
    • Distinguish human bones from the most common animal bones
    • From a (nearly) complete skeleton, distinguish between sexes and determine approximate age, stature and ethnic ancestry
    • Combine a series of different bone identifications and draw conclusions as to possible identities of an individual
    • Appraise and defend the possibilities and limitations of the techniques.
  • Further Forensic Anthropology: Identification
    Module LeaderDr Sophie Beckett - Lecturer
    Syllabus
    • The legal and social need for a positive identification of individuals
    • Pathology: identification and characterisation of disease visible on the skeleton
    • Cause and manner of death
    • Identifying trauma and injuries from skeletal remains
    • The use of trauma in positive identification
    • Fractures and fracture healing
    • Characteristic wounds left by weapons
    • Dental pathology.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Identify the need amongst the relatives and friends of a victim, in addition to society as a whole, for accurate positive identification of remains
    • Apply theoretically and practically the various techniques for positive identification
    • Identify some of the most common pathologies and diseases evident on bone
    • Draw conclusions about the lifestyle of an individual from the pathology evident on the bone
    • Identify trauma and draw justified inferences as to manner of death
    • Categorise the injuries caused by various different sorts of weaponry
    • Identify the most common examples of dental pathology.
  • Investigation and Evidence Collection
    Module LeaderDr Karl Harrison - Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology
    Syllabus
    • Construction of the forensic strategy
    • Evidence selection and collection
    • Scene photography
    • Digital photography
    • Sample integrity and contamination issues
    • Assessment of evidence
    • Packaging and transportation
    • Scene reporting
    • Handling intelligence – assessment and communication.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Analyse and evaluate various different strategies of major scene investigation to consider the various effects of different approaches.
    • List and define the range of evidence collection and investigation techniques available to the crime scene investigator.
    • Describe and evaluate the relative merits of the range of systematic crime scene procedures vital to successful investigations.
    • Evaluate which of these procedures are appropriate to a particular crime scene and apply these procedures appropriately during a crime scene exercise.
    • Generate a crime scene report which objectively critiques the methodologies used and draws justified conclusions appropriate for the evidence.
    • Transfer theoretical and practical knowledge of evidence identification, recording and retrieval into the various roles of forensic specialists.
  • Reasoning for Forensic Science
    Module LeaderProfessor Keith Rogers - Professor of Materials/Medical Science
    Syllabus
    • Experimental design
    • Interpretation and assessment
    • Effective framing and rebutting of arguments
    • Problem solving
    • Evidential types
    • Use of relevant statistics for design and interpretation
    • Courtroom statistics.

    The syllabus will follow the general course of a generic investigative process from the appropriate framing of a question to the critical interpretation of data and information. The appropriate use of data in well constructed arguments will be considered in order to distinguish between fact, opinion and speculation. Intellectual rigour will be challenged, and the ability to identify weakness in argument will be developed. Data will be examined for reliability and reproducibility with a focus on the distinct features of forensically related data. Appropriate use of descriptive and hypothesis testing statistics will be practiced and the ‘prosecutor’s fallacy’ explored. Bayes’ Theorem will be considered and rehearsed through case studies

    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Recognise the fundamental features of effective experimental design
    • Explain how confidence may be secured through effective reliability and reproducibility assessments
    • Frame and defend an effective argument concerning quantitative information
    • Understand the minimum requirements for presenting scientific evidence in court
    • Distinguish between evidential types used in court and research environments
    • Apply appropriate statistics to forensic evidence for analysis and interpretation
    • Explain the statistical processes to the layman
    • Apply Bayes’ Theorem to forensic evidence.

Elective

  • Fakes and Forgeries
    Syllabus
    • Introduction to the art world
    • Collectors, auction houses and museums
    • Object and material types
    • Stone, ceramic, glass, metal, pigment, organics
    • Scientific versus stylistic analysis
    • Special considerations of sampling
    • Quasi-non destructive and no-destructive techniques
    • Relative and absolute dating
    • Provenancing.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

    • Describe the basic functioning of the art market
    • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the legal roles of various players and the part that science can play
    • Critically assess the various scientific and non-scientific techniques
    • Demonstrate an understanding of how sampling strategies are applied and which techniques are of most use
    • Be able to apply their knowledge to specific investigation of art objects to successfully come to a reasoned and balanced conclusion.
  • Environmental Forensic Science
    Module LeaderMrs Tracey Temple - Lecturer in Environmental Science
    Syllabus
    • Introduction to environmental forensic science
    • Forensic palynology and botany
    • Forensic entomology
    • Forensic limnology (diatoms)
    • Forensic sedimentology, soil profiling and soil analysis
    • Taphonomic processes of decay
    • Environmental law, policy and compliance
    • Detection, prevention and prosecution of crimes against the environment
    • Detection and prevention of wildlife crime
    • Case studies in environmental crime.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Assess the value of environmental evidence in the investigation of crime
    • Identify environmental legislation and examine its application to examples of environmental pollution
    • Sample and analyse entomological evidence to give an estimation of post-mortem interval
    • Analyse soil, pollen and diatom evidence for provenance
    • Evaluate the use of soil, pollen and geological databases
    • Demonstrate how analytical sciences can be used in the detection and investigation of crimes against the environment
    • Identify pollutant linkage by using environmental forensic techniques.
  • Fires, Explosions and their Investigation
    Syllabus
    • Fire initiation
    • Spontaneous ignition and thermal explosion
    • Fire spread in gases
    • Dust explosions
    • Pool fires
    • Anaerobic fires
    • Fire spread in solids
    • Anatomy of a fire
    • Effects of fire on the human
    • Condensed explosives
    • Forensic examination of fires and explosions
    • Consideration of case studies.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Understand the fundamental principles of fire science theory and fire modelling and demonstrate a critical awareness of the limitations of current theories and modelling processes
    • Identify the various physical and mechanical processes and mechanisms leading to the initiation of fire and of explosion
    • Analyse the principles involved in the spread of fire and the development of vapour, dust and condensed explosions
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the forensic techniques used in the examination of suspicious fire and explosive incidents.
  • Introduction to Firearms Investigations and Forensic Ballistics
    Module LeaderDr James Shackel - Lecturer in Forensic Sciences
    Syllabus
    • Introduction into weapon functioning and performance
    • Introduction into ammunition construction and materials
    • Introduction into bullet/case matching.
    • Provide an overview of the 1968 Firearms Act (as amended)
    • Introduction to internal and external ballistics
    • Introduction to gunshot residue analysis.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Assess and evaluate how small arms work and operate
    • Appraise the science behind bullet/case matching
    • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the construction of small arms ammunition
    • Assess the use of different sections of the 1968 Firearms Act (as amended)
    • Compare and contrast the science underpinning internal and external ballistics
    • Evaluate the science behind gunshot residue analysis.
  • Mass Fatality Incidents
    Module LeaderDr Nicholas Marquez-Grant - Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology
    Syllabus
    • Types of mass fatality incident and their implications
    • Natural disasters
    • Man made disasters
    • Acts of terrorism, crime and war
    • Management of a mass fatality incident
    • Roles and responsibilities on the site
    • Techniques for victim identification
    • Humanitarian Assistance and management of the bereaved
    • Ethical and social concerns
    • Role and responsibility of the media.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

    • Categorise the different types of mass fatality incidents and confront the different problems and procedures associated with each
    • Describe the UK mass disaster management systems in both national and international incidents and distinguish the responsibilities of the key roles
    • Recognise the requirements of the bereaved, and recognise good practice for humanitarian assistance and management
    • Critically assess current methods of disaster victim identification and mortuary practice
    • Accurately complete and reconcile Interpol standardized Ante-Mortem and Post-Mortem forms.
  • Practical Archaeological Excavation
    Module LeaderMr Roland Wessling - Lecturer in Forensic Archaeology & Anthropology
    Syllabus
    • Planning an excavation
    • Logistical practical and health and safety issues
    • Practical excavation skills
    • Man management and organisation skills
    • Drawing, planning and recording an excavation
    • Small finds
    • The care of human remains
    • Press, the public and other partners.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Explain how an excavation is planned and run
    • Transfer theoretical knowledge of excavation techniques into practical use
    • Recover safely and record rigorously material uncovered in the excavation
    • Critically assess the most important features of an excavation and determine appropriate techniques
    • Communicate results to other persons both archaeological experts and lay member of the public.
  • Radiographic Investigations in Forensic Science
    Syllabus
    • Physics of X-ray production and utilisation
    • Radiographic equipment and complimentary imagining modalities - computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound
    • Analogue and digital image recording media
    • Radiation protection and legislation
    • Medical imaging techniques and their application in the forensic examination of human subjects; ballistic trauma, narcotics trafficking, abuse, assault, homicide, unexplained sudden death, human identification
    • Virtopsy ® and the virtual post-mortem
    • Radiographic techniques applied to art work and counterfeit objects
    • Industrial radiographic techniques for engineering components including weapons, missiles and improvised explosive devices.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Explain the fundamental principles of a wide range of imaging techniques
    • Identify current ionising radiations regulations and interpret them so as to be able to apply appropriate radiation protection measures when employing radiographic imaging techniques
    • List and critically assess the advantages and disadvantages of different imaging techniques and their use in the individualization of human remains and characterisation of trauma and/or disease states
    • List and critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of imaging techniques and their use in the identification and characterisation of components and component failure
    • Practically apply appropriate imaging techniques for defined situations and interpret the results.
  • Trace Evidence
    Module LeaderDr David Lane - Reader in Analytical Physics and Advance
    Syllabus
    • Trace evidence concepts, direct and indirect transfer, retention time, transfer diagrams
    • Fibre and hair construction
    • Fibre and hair microscopy for identification and comparison
    • Glass construction and forensic examination
    • Paint characterization
    • Soil analysis
    • Blood spatter
    • Finger prints
    • Marks as evidence.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Investigate a wide range of physical evidence using the concept of ‘trace’ evidence
    • Project manage a systematic trace evidence search using appropriate detection and collection techniques to recover trace evidence of different types
    • Justify the categorisation of trace evidence by identifying and measuring their most important features using appropriate analytical techniques
    • Assess the number and distributions of different types of trace evidence and use
    • Appraise different categories of trace evidence and synthesise a model for how trace evidence transfer has occurred
    • Present a case for physical contact between two (or more) objects or persons using a transfer diagram
    • Report on a trace evidence investigation in a clear and concise manner.
  • Forensic Exploitation and Intelligence
    Syllabus
    • Role of communication and information sharing
    • FORINT in Long term policing strategy
    • Exploitation and Military Intelligence
    • Pattern analysis, GIS and mathematics in forensic intelligence
    • Technical exploitation
    • Forensic exploitation
    • Planning and direction of forensic intelligence
    • Collection, processing, production, management and dissemination of FORINT
    • Forms of output and report from FORINT.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

    • Distinguish evidential types for use in court and for intelligence purposes
    • Evaluate the levels and range of forensic exploitation techniques
    • Manage and prioritise the exploitation of forensic intelligence derived from people, places and vehicles
    • Critically assess how forensic intelligence interfaces with other intelligence sources
    • Establish and maintain a FORINT exploitation policy within the frameworks of forensic best practice and the recognised intelligence cycle.
  • Digital Crime and Investigation
    Module LeaderDr Sarah Morris - Lecturer in Forensic Computing
    Syllabus
    • Background and introduction to digital forensic science
    • Investigation of digital crime
    • Planning and executing a search and seizure operation in the context of a digital crime based investigation
    • Introduction to the tools and techniques used to examine digital evidence
    • Reports and statements
    • Relevant UK and European law.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module a student should be able to: 

    • Evaluate the impact of key concepts in digital forensic science and related legislation on the forensic workflow
    • Create an effective search and seizure plan for a digital investigation
    • Conduct a simple digital forensic examination
    • Construct an appropriate report in respect of a digital crime investigation and examination
    • Apply knowledge to act as a source of assistance and information in relation to digital evidence and crime.

Assessment

By written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and viva voce.

Start date, duration and location

Start date: Full-time: September. Part-time: September.

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year, Part-time MSc - up to three years, Full-time PgDip - one year, Part-time PgDip - two years

(For MOD status students the duration may vary, subject to annual review.)

Teaching location: Shrivenham

Overview

The course offers students a wide range of different experiences with unique facilities available to no other university in the UK. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, usually with a science or forensic science first degree. Many students come from abroad, especially Europe, Africa and North America. The Forensic programme takes around 50 students a year and places are competitive. The Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology MSc usually makes up around 15-20 of these.

Accreditation and partnerships

The Forensic Modular Masters Programme at Cranfield Forensic Institute is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.




Informed by industry

Serving forensic practitioners.

Your teaching team

Facilities and resources

The course has access to large, secure grounds in which covert burials and mass grave exercises are carried out. The experimental archaeology facilities are also excellent, as are live firing ranges and explosive ranges that can be used to replicate the effect of the trauma caused by these weapons on flesh and bone. All students have the chance to participate in a conventional archaeological excavation run by the course.

Entry Requirements

Normally a 1st or 2nd class Honours degree or equivalent in archaeology, forensics or scientific discipline, or the professional equivalent. Students with other degrees who can show a knowledge of and interest in the scientific elements of the subject will also be considered.

English Language

Students whose first language is not English must attain an IELTS score of 7

Fees

Home EU Student Fees

MSc Full-time - £9,000

MSc Part-time - £9,000 *

PgDip Full-time - £7,200

PgDip Part-time - £7,200 *

Overseas Fees

MSc Full-time - £17,500

MSc Part-time - £17,500 *

PgDip Full-time - £14,000

PgDip Part-time - £14,000 *

*

Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at six month intervals (i.e. the full fee to be paid over the first two years of their registration). 

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

Funding

Most fees paid personally by the student or their families are eligible for a departmental bursary. This is often in the order of £1,500 for UK/EU students or £3,500 for overseas students. Details will be sent in the offer letter.

For more information on funding please contact forensicMsc@cranfield.ac.uk.

Additional information is available here.

Career opportunities

Takes you on to opportunities to work in the field of forensic archaeology or anthropology within forensic laboratories, police departments, government bodies and non-governmental organisations. It is also a necessary introduction that could lead into conducting research at PhD level in the subject.

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