nl en

Laboratory Work for Human Osteoarchaeology


Admission requirements

  • Having successfully completed the course Human Osteology;

  • Admission to the MSc Archaeology programme Archaeological Sciences with Human Osteoarchaeology as the first focus area, or admission to the RMSc Archaeology programme with a focus on Bioarchaeology.


This is a graduate seminar in palaeopathology wherein we explore patterns of demography and disease in past human populations. The emphasis will be on what can and cannot be learned about human health and disease through the analyses of skeletal and dental remains from archaeological contexts.

Methods involved in the identification of disease from prehistoric remains are taught and the importance of using a differential diagnosis approach demonstrated. The skeletal and dental markers of disease and injury are to be understood as sources of information about the broader biocultural adaptations of past populations.

The course is open to both MSc-students Human Osteology and RMSc-Bioarchaeology students. Although participating in the same lectures, the RMSc-students’ assignments will have a different focus involving enhanced depth and critical review with additional minimum requirements for the number of referenced sources.
Written (i.e. essays) and oral (i.e. presentations) assignments will involve researching a topic to achieve comprehension of its significance to the field as a whole, utilising critical thinking skills and formulating directions for innovative new research.

Course objectives

  • To understand how disease can affect the morphology of bone and teeth and its relationship to soft tissues;

  • To learn to recognise the common pathological abnormalities and identify what injuries or diseases could have been the cause;

  • To assess the range of normal human skeletal morphological variation to accurately determine pathological changes;

  • To increase knowledge about science-based approaches within the field of osteoarchaeology;

  • To develop professional presentation and instruction skills;

  • To refine critical thinking skills.

In addition to the above, RMSc-students develop the ability to:

  • Critically review the significance of current research within the field as a whole;

  • Report such reviews in written and oral formats;

  • Formulate new and innovative directions of research.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion;

  • Open laboratory time.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • Lectures (1,5 ec);

  • Laboratory work (0,5 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Written assignments (including poster and presentation) (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Laboratory assignment (15%);

  • Presentation (20%);

  • Weekly participation (25%);

  • Academic poster (40%).

The individual grades can be compensated.

A retake is only possible for the research paper, and only if all other requirements have been met.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.
Other individual deadlines (assignments etc.) can be found on BlackBoard.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about his course, please contact dr. S.A. (Sarah) Schrader


Compulsory attendance.