Principles of Osteology


Core Course
Credits: 3

This course will provide an introduction to the principles of forensic anthropology through an overview of the human skeleton and the ways in which its study is applied to death investigations.  Students will be introduced to bone biology and a basic overview of human osteology and skeletal identification.  Specialized cases will be discussed including fragmented remains, mass fatalities, and skeletal diseases will be explored.

Course Objectives: 

  • Understand the principles of bone biology, growth, and healing
  • Identify the individual components of the human skeleton
  • Utilize anatomical terminology
  • Preliminarily identify skeletal remains as human vs. non-human
  • Understand the major skeletal differences between humans, other mammals, and non-mammals
  • Understand the disease processes that can affect the human skeleton
  • Show familiarity and understanding of different types of fragmented remains that a forensic anthropologist may encounter in casework
  • Understand methods of mass fatality management


  • Module 1: Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
  • Module 2: Skeletal Anatomy and Bone Biology
  • Module 3: The Human Skeleton – Skull and Teeth
  • Module 4: The Human Skeleton – Spine and Pelvis
  • Module 5: The Human Skeleton – Limbs and Extremities
  • Module 6: Human vs. Non-human Comparative Osteology
  • Module 7: Methods of Skeletal Identification
  • Module 8: Diseases of the Skeleton
  • Module 9: Fragmented Remains
  • Module 10: Mass Fatality Management
  • Final Exam