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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Body Location, Recovery and Analysis: Short Course June 2017

****This course will not be delivered in 2018****

Body location, recovery and analysis in forensic contexts

This innovative short course provides training in the latest scientific techniques of body location, recovery and analysis. The course had been approved and accredited by the Forensic Science Society, with completion resulting in 35 CPD points. A series of seminars, hands-on laboratory sessions and fieldwork (involving experience of remote sensing techniques, 'body' excavation and cadaver dog demonstrations) will see attendees improve efficiency and understanding of the protocols and techniques required in order to maximize forensic intelligence recovery at relevant scenes of crime.

The course is led and delivered by Dr Rebecca Gowland and Professor Tim Thompson, together with a team of experts in forensic archaeology, anthropology, remote sensing and biomolecular analysis. Staff at the universities of Teesside and Durham have complementary, world-leading expertise in bone chemistry, skeletal analysis, excavation and forensic science. Delegates are therefore taught by staff currently engaged in pushing the frontiers of forensic research; they are undertaking the research that will be in standard practice in the future. The Centre for Forensic Investigation, Teesside University, has a long history of excellence in forensic and crime scene teaching and research. The Department of Archaeology, Durham University is in the top two highest ranking archaeology departments for research in the UK. Staff from both universities are highly experienced teachers who have a track record in teaching complex theoretical and methodological concepts in a straightforward and accessible way. No prior experience of any of the topics covered on this course is assumed. Development of this course has been funded by North East Higher Level Skills Pathfinder and supported by the Durham University seedcorn fund.

Comments from Previous Delegates

Charlotte Clay, Lancashire Constabulary – "Everything explained clearly and concisely by lecturers who were obviously experienced and passionate about what they do" and "all subjects related well to CSI work".

Kate Whitehead, Crime Scene Investigator, South Yorkshire Police “I thought the course was excellent, it was pitched at just the right level for CSI Supervisors. It provided us with enough information about the techniques used for locating and excavating graves without getting into too much unnecessary detail. I would feel much more confident when dealing with such scenes now, whether it be looking at individual random bones or crime scene burial sites. The structure of the course was varied and well thought out, it combined a good balance of lectures and informative, interactive practical sessions. The staff were extremely knowledgeable, very approachable and easy to listen to - the lectures were well presented and very interesting - I would recommend this course to any CSI Supervisors or Crime Scene Managers in the future.”

Dr Elisabeth Anstett, PI on the ERC funded project “Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide” “Thank you so much for all the work and preparation that made this course one of the best I have attended”.

Anonymous Course Feedback “I will recommend the course to all scholars that are working on forensic issues. The tutors were really passionate and knowledgeable about their subject and all elements related well to CSI work.”

Simon Beckett, International Bestselling Crime Writer – "The practical aspects - in the field and in the lab - were particularly enlightening"

Group Bookings

In response to requests for group bookings, we are able to offer flexible course delivery. Simply choose the most appropriate elements for your needs and the number of days that your staff can commit and we will tailor the course accordingly. We can also offer more specialized training to enhance skills in the investigation of human rights abuses/ mass graves/ genocide. We can arrange to deliver elements of the course at your organization. Contact Dr Rebecca Gowland or Professor Tim Thompson to discuss your requirements.


Course fee: £950 per person (NB. fee for tailored courses will vary according to requirements)

Student: £400

Course fee includes course materials and refreshments (coffee, lunches)
Places are limited to 20; early booking is advised.


Delegates are asked to book their own accommodation. See the following website for lists of B&Bs and Hotels nearby:

How to book

Please contact Professor Tim Thompson in the first instance to reserve your place or to discuss the course. Complete the booking form below and send it, together with a cheque (payable to Durham University), to: Dr Rebecca Gowland, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE.

Booking Form

Booking deadline is 1st May 2017; full course refund for cancellations received by 15th May 2017. No refunds after that date.

Group bookings will require a deposit.

Course Enquiries

For any course enquiries please contact: Professor Tim Thompson, Teesside University on 01642 342535, or email


Dr Rebecca Gowland, Durham University via email:

See also:


Day 1: Mon 12th June

Introduction to the course

9:00-9:30 Registration and refreshments

9:30-10:00 What are forensic archaeology & anthropology?

Body Deposition and Evidence Recovery

10:00-10.30 Decomposition & taphonomy


11:00-11:45 Evidence from the grave

11:45-12:40 Excavating & interpreting the grave and body

12:40-1:00 Commingled graves


Basic Osteology

2:00-5:00 Basic and comparative osteology

Day 2: Tue 13th June

Search and Recovery in the Field

9:00-10:00 Locating graves using geophysics

10:30-5:00 Forensic archaeology in practice

Day 3: Weds 14th June

Information from the Body

9:00-10:30 Human identity and identification


11:00-11:45 Human identity and identification

11:45-12:30 Contexts of violence and abuse


1:30-5:00 Creation of an osteological profile

Day 4: Thurs 15th June

Biomolecular Evidence

9:00-10:00 Stable isotopes in identification and abuse

10:00-11:00 Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA


11:30-1:00 DNA Workshop


Case Studies

2:00-4:00 Body location, recovery and analysis in practice

Closing Remarks

4:00-4:15 Concluding the course