Bioarchaeology at Durham University - UCAS

Course options

There are other course options available which may have a different vacancy status or entry requirements – view the full list of options

Course summary

Our unique MSc in Bioarchaeology with its pathways in biomolecular archaeology and environmental archaeology provides an excellent academic opportunity for you to develop your fascination with the life of humans in the past through the study of biological materials found during archaeological activity. You will join an exciting course that reflects the fast-paced world of bioarchaeology, where knowledge and understanding are constantly expanding as a result of new breakthroughs and discoveries. You will have the opportunity to work with the latest developments in archaeological science including human bioarchaeology and palaeopathology, stable isotope mass spectrometry, ancient DNA and environmental archaeology. The course offers a choice of pathways that will be tailored to your interests. You can choose to specialise in a single branch of bioarchaeology, or to combine subjects to gain a broader overview of this rapidly changing field. Whichever pathway you choose, you will benefit from high quality training in analytical, research and communication skills. The pathways are MSc Bioarchaeology, which provides a broad overview of bioarchaeology, MSc Bioarchaeology (Biomolecular Archaeology), which focuses on the study of stable isotopes and DNA extracted from biological materials and MSc Bioarchaeology (Environmental Archaeology) focusing on the study of animal bones, plant remains and soils from archaeological contexts. You will carry out project and dissertation work where you will have the opportunity to play a key role in the creation and application of cutting-edge analytical methods to understand more about human life and environment in the past. The Department is not only at the forefront of creating globally significant innovative solutions in the application of biosciences to archaeological research but is also able to provide you with a supportive learning environment where your bioarchaeological ambitions can flourish. Course Structure Core modules Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science provides a high level of understanding of research methods, study and presentation skills in archaeological science, covering areas such as research ethics, writing and presentation skills, research designs and research application, computing and statistics. Topics in Archaeological Science equips you with the skills to explore and debate the current key topics and research themes in archaeology and to critically assess the scientific methods used and also facilitate the development of your original thinking to identify the gaps in knowledge and future research directions. You will find the emphasis will be placed on the need to critically evaluate the application, potential and limitations of a range of techniques and the importance of considering the archaeological context and question. The Dissertation allows you to develop and demonstrate a range of skills learnt as part of the MSc in Bioarchaeology as well as investigate in depth your approved dissertation topic through library-based, practical, laboratory and/or field techniques. You will also produce a research design for an independent piece of work, perform the proposed work, analyse and present the evidence and provide clear arguments and conclusions.


The remaining two modules are chosen from options, which have previously included: Environmental Archaeology; Osteoprofiling; Isotopic and Biomolecular Archaeology; Practical Guided Study; Research Topics in Archaeology; Current Themes in Human Bioarchaeology.

Assessment method

The course offers the option to study one year full-time or two years part-time, through a rigorous and fulfilling series of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, practical classes, as well as a supervised dissertation. Lectures provide key information on specific topics in bioarchaeology, and importantly, identify areas for discussion and debate that will take place in your subsequent seminars and tutorials. You will gain valuable direct experience and essential skills in recording, analysing and interpreting bioarchaeological data in the series of practical classes and workshops under the guidance of experienced, world-leading scientists. Finally, through supervised projects and dissertations, you will have the opportunity to put your knowledge and skills into practice, and to produce a substantial piece of independent, original research. Assessment of your work and progress through the course is varied but nevertheless rigorous in its focus on your learning achievements. You will be assessed via a range of essays, reports, and skills-based exercises such as statistics exercises, a grant application or project design. The MSc culminates in a written 15,000-word dissertation based on original research you have carried out.

How to apply

International applicants

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class (2:1) degree (GPA 3.3.) or equivalent in Archaeology, Anthropology, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, or related disciplines. Relevant working experience will also be considered. One satisfactory reference is required.

English language requirements

Durham University welcomes applications from all students irrespective of background. We encourage the recruitment of academically well-qualified and highly motivated students, who are non-native speakers of English, whose full potential can be realised with a limited amount of English Language training either prior to entry or through pre-sessional and/or in-sessional courses. It is the normal expectation that candidates for admission should be able to demonstrate satisfactory English proficiency before the start of a programme of study, whether via the submission of an appropriate English language qualification or by attendance on an appropriate pre-sessional course. Acceptable evidence and levels required can be viewed by following the link provided.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £11900 Year 1
Northern Ireland £11900 Year 1
Scotland £11900 Year 1
Wales £11900 Year 1
Channel Islands £11900 Year 1
EU £26500 Year 1
International £26500 Year 1

Tuition fee status depends on a number of criteria and varies according to where in the UK you will study. For further guidance on the criteria for home or overseas tuition fees, please refer to the UKCISA website .

Additional fee information

No additional fees or cost information has been supplied for this course, please contact the provider directly.

Sponsorship information

For further information see the course listing.

Bioarchaeology at Durham University - UCAS