MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology


The MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology provides advanced training in the analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. Students will develop a detailed understanding of skeletal and soft tissue anatomy through hands-on dissection and gain expertise in the analysis of human remains through lab-based analysis of our internationally-significant collections of archaeological material. An appreciation of the context for archaeological human remains is emphasised through lecture-based tuition in world funerary archaeology.

Students will join a vibrant research community in bioarchaeology. You will also develop core skills in research project development and statistical data analysis that feed into an original independent research project conducted over the summer.

Graduates from this programme have pursued successful careers in academia, commercial archaeology, heritage management and museums, and many go on to PhDs.

Students looking at skulls

Student and graduate profiles

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Sarah Poniros

The combination of hands-on practicals, lectures and seminars enabled me to develop both theoretical understanding and practical experience of human osteology and funerary archaeology. My training enabled me to secure a funded PhD position, while others from my cohort moved on to work in commercial archaeology. The skeletal collections were exceptional, and a huge range of materials were available for study both in class and during my personal study time.

SARAH PONIROS, MSc student 2015

Duration One year full-time
Semesters The teaching component of the programme will commence late September and is based on semesters (Autumn/Spring). Semester dates Over the summer you will undertake your independent research in consultation with an academic supervisor.
Qualification This programme is offered as a MSc (180 credits), Diploma (120 credits) or a Certificate (60 credits).
Assessment Typical forms of assessment include essays, laboratory reports, presentations and completion of a research-led dissertation*.

Information relates to 2017-18 academic year: The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is current and relevant. Individual modules may be updated or withdrawn in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, curriculum review, staff availability, and variations in student numbers. In the event of a material change the University will inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Core Modules:

These compulsory modules will provide you with the key knowledge and understanding for research in human osteology.

*While the majority of dissertation projects do not involve any additional cost to the student, you may incur some expenses if you choose a topic that is not resourced by the department.

Optional Modules:

You will chose modules worth a total of 15 credits, which can also include modules to this value in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Availability varies from year to year. To get a flavour of the modules offered in Archaeology please go to module list.

Full programme specifications are also available.


Core Teaching Staff:

Umberto AlbarellaDr Umberto Albarella

Umberto specialises in the study of animal bones from archaeological sites (zooarchaeology). His research is wide-ranging and strongly oriented towards the integration of different aspects of archaeology. His work is predominantly based in Britain and Italy and he has also worked in Armenia, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Portugal.

Lizzy CraigDr Lizzy Craig-Atkins (Programme Director)

Lizzy is a specialist in human osteology and palaeopathology with particular interests in multidisciplinary approaches to questions surrounding past population structures, health, disease and lifestyle. She has worked with human remains from many periods and locations, but her primarily focus is on material from post-Roman to modern periods in the UK.

Kevin KuykendallDr Kevin Kuykendall

Kevin’s research interests include Plio-Pleistocene hominid fossil site survey and excavation, evolution of early hominid life history, the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens in Africa evolution and variation of the paranasal sinuses in primates.

Pia NystromDr Pia Nystrom

Pia has many research interests. Those of special interest are examination of skeletal pathology in non-human primates using standards developed for the human species, examining the influence of age, sex, positional behaviour, and captivity. The reconstruction of diet in past societies, especially on an individual level, and how diet impact on individual health, wealth and position within a population. The position of children in past societies, their health and well-being and how well integrated they were within the adult social world.


Academic Requirements:

A minimum of a 2:1 honours degree (GPA 3.0) in an arts, humanities or science subject is usually required. Your interest in and knowledge of archaeological matters are more important than the specific discipline of your undergraduate degree. EU and international student entry requirements can be found using the link below:

English Language Requirements:

For applicants whose first language is not English, IELTS is the preferred test of language. You need an IELTS score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in all the component tests. Further information can be obtained from the following link:


Funding options, instalment plans and tuition fee information are located at:

How to Apply:

Applications forms are completed on-line at the following link:

Visit Us:

If you’re considering doing a postgraduate programme at Sheffield, you are very welcome to visit us. You can attend an open day or a visit afternoon, which will include a tour of the University campus and the department, or contact the department directly ( to arrange a personal visit to meet with the director of your chosen programme.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The link below contains questions most commonly asked about the application process:


We are truly international in our scope and ethos. Our students come to us from countries all over Europe, Asia and America. Their vibrancy, pursuit of knowledge and divergent experience informs our debates and provokes lively discussion. We encourage applicants to visit the following webpages aimed specifically at our EU and international students.

We also have a departmental page for our international applicants:

Prospective EU Students

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If you'd like to know more about any aspect of our courses, please contact us:


T: +44 (0) 114 222 2900