BMS352 Forensic Anatomy


  • Level 3 undergraduate module
  • Runs between Feb and June each year
  • Approx. 135 students electing to take module this year
  • Combination of lab classes and lectures

Aim of module

This unit aims to combine students understanding of gross human anatomy with forensic science techniques to determine the identity of human remains.

Outline of the course

Students begin the course by learning the anatomical structures of the head and neck through cadaveric dissection.  After this, small groups of students are given a box of ‘anatomical evidence’ relating to an unidentified person who has died*.  The evidence includes a skull, long bones, dental information and a post mortem report.  Later in the course the students are also provided with a DNA sample from the individual.

Students are taught a number of forensic techniques and are required to apply these techniques to the ‘evidence’ they have been provided with to determine the identity and cause of death of the individual.  

Techniques include:

  • Facial reconstruction
  • Analysis of bones to determine age, sex, ethnicity and pathology
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Blunt and sharp trauma injury analysis


Each student is asked to submit a written report outlining the identity and cause of death from the evidence they were given.  Students are required to critique the forensic techniques used in the module and propose alternative or additional methodologies that would make the results more robust.  In addition, students sit a written exam that requires them to apply the techniques they have learnt to determine identity and cause of death in a number of different cases.

*the boxes of evidence used in this module are fabricated case studies and contain resin casts of anatomical structures from known sources along with fictitious dental and post mortem reports and DNA samples from known individuals.