MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology


Postcard of MSc Human Osteology & Funerary Archaeology

An intensive 1-year (or 2-year part-time) post-graduate taught degree with research experience

This established course has trained many leading osteologists and anthropologists from across the world.

A unique opportunity to develop an academic specialism in both biological anthropology and funerary archaeology.

Unlimited access to excellent lab facilities and extensive archaeological human skeletal collections.

Sheffield's MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology has offered advanced training in the study of archaeological human bones for 25 years. This established programme will provide you with both the technical skills and knowledge required to undertake analysis of archaeological human remains, and the cultural understanding of funerary practices needed to situate your findings within a broader archaeological and historical context. In short, we will provide you with the tools to write human history from human remains.

The programme is designed for students who want to further their knowledge of what human remains can tell us about the past, and to acquire the practical expertise needed to unlock that knowledge. It will be of particular value to students who wish to learn the skills necessary to undertake and obtain funding for doctoral research in human osteology or to pursue a career with human remains in the heritage sector, and to practitioners who want to enhance their professional skills-base. The programme at Sheffield is one of the most successful of its kind, and has trained many of those who now research, teach or practice osteology including UK and overseas academics, commercial osteologists and forensic practitioners.

This is a very intensive programme, which makes full use of our department's diverse range of expertise, recently-refurbished laboratory facilities and comprehensive reference collections to provide you with the advanced knowledge and skills required to identify and interpret human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. We offer a wide variety of modules which range in content from human anatomical dissection to Classical and medieval funerary practice, all of which have been developed exclusively for students from the Department of Archaeology and are delivered by our experienced team of full-time academics. Thus we will provide you with insights into the range of research methods used in the study of human skeletal remains and in the analysis of the cultural attributes of burials.

The osteology staff team are each leading researchers and practitioners in diverse aspects of human osteology and funerary archaeology. You will also be supported in your learning by other members of the departmental academic staff and a dedicated osteology demonstrator.

A range of bursaries are available to support you through the MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology. These include support with fees and/or living expenses, and include opportunities for UK, EU and International students.

Join the vibrant and established research team at Sheffield to pursue your career in human osteology and funerary archaeology!

excavating a skull

Duration Full-time (one year)
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.

Further Information:

If you'd like to know more about any aspect of this course please contact, Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins,

For any other queries please contact: E:, T: +44 (0)114 222 2900

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