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 or two years part-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 2019-20 academic year: The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and 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.  You will be expected to cover the cost of printing and binding two copies of your dissertation/placement report.

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 AlbarellaProf 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.

Dr Hugh WillmottDr Hugh Willmott

Hugh studied medieval and early modern archaeology at the University of Durham, completing his PhD in 1999. After a brief period working in commercial archaeology, he was appointed a lecturer in European Historical Archaeology at Sheffield in 2004, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010. In 2017 Hugh featured as one of the university's Inspirational Academics.


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:

There may be additional costs associated with any laboratory work you may undertake such as purchase of laboratory coats, dissection kit (Human Anatomy). For field work you would be required to ensure you have appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear, as well as first aid and emergency equipment. You will also need to purchase books, stationery, IT accessories, etc.

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.


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

Contact us

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


T: +44 (0) 114 222 2900