Introduction

Bioarchaeological Science is at the forefront of the scientific study of the human past. This new programme incorporates the study of human osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology along with the advanced study of human remains through genetic and isotopic analysis. You will learn the latest scientific techniques for the extraction, analysis and presentation of DNA, protein, stable isotope and lipid data.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September
Location of Study
Aberdeen

Through a series of lectures, seminars and practical workshops, you will learn how biomolecular evidence is preserved and later extracted and analysed by bioarchaeologists, and how this data is used to further enhance the information available to archaeologists, evolutionary biologists and palaeoecologists.

This programme also draws on the Department’s expertise in human osteology to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to identify and interpret human remains from archaeological deposits. In addition, you will learn how the study of ancient genes and genomes through the use of techniques such as next-generation sequencing and population genetics is transforming our understanding of the human past, human evolution and the bio-history of other species.

You will also learn the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed in order to identify and interpret palaeopathological changes observed in archaeological human remains and to understand what these changes can tell us about ancient diseases. Students will have the opportunity to develop an original bioarchaeological science research project with our osteoarchaeological, aDNA and isotope specialists in our dedicated laboratories.

This programme covers the knowledge and skills pertinent to the study of ancient remains and is aimed at students interested in pursuing biomolecular archaeology professionally. The skills taught on this programme, however, have multiple applications beyond archaeology, and so this programme is also suitable for students with a background in other disciplines including anthropology, earth sciences, genetics, history, and zoology.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

  • Ancient Biomolecules (30 credit points)

In addition, students will take further 30 credit points from the following courses:

  • AY5002 Theory and Method in Archaeological Research (30 credit points)
  • AY5008 Human Osteology (30 credit points)

Semester 2

  • Palaeogenetics (30 credit points)

In addition, students will take further 30 credit points from the following courses:

  • AY5504 Advanced Archaeological Approaches (30 credit points)
  • AY5506 Ancient Health and Disease (30 credit points) (can be selected only if AY5008 was selected in semester 1).

Semester 3

  • Dissertation in Archaeological Science (60 credit points)
Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses
Ancient Biomolecules (AY5011)

30 Credit Points

This course provides a broad introduction to the field of Biomolecular Archaeology and the study of ancient biomolecules. In a series of lectures, seminars and practicals, you will learn key theoretical concepts, principles, and laboratory methods underpinning state-of-the-art research on ancient biomolecules, such as DNA, proteins and lipids

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

In addition, students will take further 30 credit points from the following courses:

Theory and Method in Research (AY5002)

30 Credit Points

In this course students will follow the development of archaeological thought from its roots in the scientific revolution of the 17th century through to the post-modern thinkers and finally discovering where the current theoretical debates stand. Students will explore the links between the theoretical development of archaeological research and the general developments in the history of science and philosophy. Students also explore different methodologies central to archaeological research, discuss what constitute archaeological data, and how to design a research project. Students will also discuss research ethics, and scientific agendas. These issues are explored through a series of lectures and seminars.

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Human Osteology (AY5008)

30 Credit Points

This course will provide you with the knowledge and practical skills required to identify and interpret human remains from archaeological sites. In addition to archaeology these skills are invaluable for any skeletal studies, including paleontology, human and primate evolution and forensic sciences.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses
Palaeogenetics (AY5507)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with an in-depth overview of the study of ancient DNA. Through extensive training in theoretical concepts and principles, laboratory methods, and bioinformatics, you will attain specialist skills in the analysis of DNA extracted from archaeological remains.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

In addition, students will take further 30 credit points from the following courses:

*AY5506 Ancient Health and Disease (30 credit points) (can be selected only if AY5008 was selected in semester 1).

Advanced Archaeological Approaches (AY5504)

30 Credit Points

As an advanced engagement with current trends and approaches in Northern Archaeology students examine current cutting edge debates associated with new theories and methodologies in archaeological research. Students will encounter the versatility of methodological and theoretical approaches in Northern research through four different themes central to the Archaeology of the North; Body and Death, Heritage and Memory, Social Space and Structures, Human and Environment. Each theme is explored through series of research led seminars and a practical, approaching the theme from different theoretical/methodological angels. The main assessment of the course is an Internal Masters Conference on these four themes.

View detailed information about this course
Ancient Health and Disease (AY5506)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed in order to identify, and interpret, palaeopathological changes observed in archaeological human remains. You will also gain an understanding of how such changes could have affected people in the past, and how, using a bioarchaeological approach, this data may inform the archaeological narrative.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
Dissertation in Archaeological Science (AY5906)

60 Credit Points

This course enables students on the MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology or MSc in Bioarchaeological Science programmes to develop their own research project in archaeological science. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in conducting extensive literature review and synthesis, formulating a clear and concise research question, and design and execute practice-oriented research.

View detailed information about this course

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Why Study Bioarchaeological Science?

  • Bioarchaeological Science is at the forefront of the scientific study of the human past. Focused on the physical remains of past peoples, bioarchaeological science incorporates human osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology coupled with the advanced study of human remains through genetic and isotopic analysis. Ultimately, it combines approaches rooted in biology, geochemistry and anatomy, with archaeological enquiry, theory and practice.
  • The principal aim of the MSc in Bioarchaeological Science is to equip students with a range of backgrounds with the theoretical and practical skills required to study human remains at different levels and to gain a greater appreciation of the archaeological contexts in which the advanced bioarchaeological scientific approaches can play a key role.
  • Through lectures, seminars, workshops and practical sessions this one year taught postgraduate programme integrates the latest methodologies employed by biomolecular scientists with broader archaeological and osteoarchaeological approaches.
  • Students will choose from a range of modules, tailoring a course to suit their interests, including osteoarchaeology, biomolecular archaeology and advanced archaeology. Students will be offered training in human osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology by leading specialists, and learn how ancient biomolecules are preserved, extracted and analysed from ancient tissues. Students will have the opportunity to develop an original bioarchaeological science research project with our osteoarchaeological, aDNA and isotope specialists in our dedicated laboratories.
  • The core modules in semester 1 and 2 provide an opportunity for students to attain both basic and specialist skills in a broad range of laboratory and analytical techniques including DNA, protein and lipid extraction methods from different source materials (modern as well as archaeological), analysis, interpretation and presentation (in written and oral format) of ancient DNA, stable isotope, protein, and lipid data.
  • In addition, you will gain a critical awareness of issues inherent to biomolecular data and learn how to critically and systematically evaluate such data in published literature.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth in Archaeology, Anthropology, Earth Sciences, Genetics, History, or Zoology or a related discipline.

or

2:2 in Archaeology or a related discipline, with relevant professional experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

CV
an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £8,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £18,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Scholarships

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Careers

Bioarchaeology is a rapidly developing field of study. Graduates of this programme will be well placed to pursue careers working as professional archaeologists, either for archaeology companies or for universities, museums, local authorities or other heritage sector organisations. The knowledge and skills taught on this programmes are highly transferable and have multiple applications beyond archaeology, for example in medical sciences.

  • Biomolecular Archaeology (research)
  • Archaeology (research)
  • Osteoarchaeology (research)
  • Commercial archaeology
  • Commercial laboratory applications
  • Research assistance

Our Experts

Associate Director
Dr Kate Britton

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX