ARMPAC-Palaeopathology in Adults and Children

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Mary Lewis


Type of module:

Summary module description:

An analysis of trauma and disease within a skeletal sample is a critical element of any archaeological cemetery investigation. This module provides critical skills needed for human osteologists to fully interpret the skeletal data. You will learn to identify and address key archaeological questions for inclusion in specialist reports and for primary research projects. The module covers a variety of conditions and how they are differently expressed in adult and child remains. The focus on child skeletal remains is a unique aspect of this module.


This module provides you with the critical skills required to recognise healed and active pathological conditions and interpret their significance in the contexts of key theoretical paradigms. Uniquely this module has particular focus on the growing field of child palaeopathology. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differences of disease expression in adults and children, and the mechanisms behind it

  • Ability to identify and describe the range of pathological lesions evident on the human skeleton

  • Critically assess the various types of evidence (archaeological, iconographic, documentary, medical) used in the analysis of past human health

  • Critically assess the relevance, theoretical and practical, of palaeopathological analysis in the interpretation of past populations and their environment

  • Ability to recognise and critically appraise theoretical approaches to the subject

  • Organise the information to articulate an argument in writing

Additional outcomes:

The laboratory practicals are designed to develop identification and descriptive skills and to reinforce information and practices outlined in the lectures. You will learn to work both independently, and in groups to gain information on trauma and diseases manifested on human skeletal material.

Outline content:

Global context:

Reference to research and case studies of individuals from across the world will illustrate key principles and diseases throughout the module.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Each session will comprise a 1.5-hour introductory lecture followed by a 2.5 hour practical where examples of trauma and diseases within each disease classification, as outlined in the lecture, will be examined, recorded and described. Practicals will also contain formative in-lab quizzes to reinforce learning.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 15
Practicals classes and workshops 25
Guided independent study: 160
Total hours by term 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Report 20
Class test administered by School 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

You will produce an essay based chosen from a series of set topics (3000 words), write a detailed description of a pathological bone (1000 words), and sit an in-class palaeopathology test.

Formative assessment methods:

In each of the practical sessions you will be tested on your knowledge of human skeletal anatomy and use of palaeopathological terminology through informal discussions with the demonstrators and lecturer. In this way you will be provided with immediate feedback on your progression, and ways in which you can improve your skills. You will also receive the results of in-class pathology bone quizzes, and written feedback on practical activities (e.g. dental recording, description tasks) will be provided on request.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework in September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 10 April 2019


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