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BIOA301 Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton

Biological variation of the human skeleton. Application of the theory and methods of analysis used to study morphological and genetic variation and health in human skeletal remains excavated from archaeological sites.

Have you ever wanted to know how and why we assess past human life ways from human skeletons? What do experts assess in archaeological and forensic situations? This course will take you through a detailed investigation of biological and cultural adaptation of human populations as reflected in the skeleton to understand human health and history. Topics include growth variation, age and sex assessment, ancient disease, and ancient DNA and isotope analyses of human variation.

Paper title Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton
Paper code BIOA301
Subject Biological Anthropology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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BIOA 201
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

Anatomy Office Room 231, 2nd Floor Lindo Ferguson Building (LFB)
Tel: 479 7362

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Siân Halcrow

Teaching Arrangements
All teaching is undertaken on campus.

White T and Folkens P, 2005. The Human Bone Manual. Amsterdam. Academic Press.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Develop a detailed understanding of the process of changes with age and the basis of sexual dimorphism in the adult human skeleton, and how and why these vary among individuals and populations
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the evolution and variability of human growth and development and develop an ability to apply this understanding in interpreting evidence from the skeleton of an infant or child
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the response of the human skeleton to disease and injury
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the use of molecular anthropology in skeletal analysis
  • Demonstrate ability to interpret evidence of age at death, sex, ancestry and health and disease in a human skeleton, and to understand the limitations of this process
  • Demonstrate ability to locate literature on a relevant topic, and to synthesise and critically analyse the publications
  • Develop an understanding of the application of skeletal analysis to the interpretation of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 9-14, 16-22
A2 Wednesday 16:00-17:50 9-14, 16-22