A forensics student examining a skeleton's remains

Course details

Year of entry

2024, 2025

Institution Code



Online, Wrexham

Why choose? this course?

Are you interested in learning about how fossils are formed and preserved? This course aims to provide a holistic introduction to the science of taphonomy; how organismal remains decay and enter the archaeological and palaeontological record.

Key course features

  • Discover the core principles of the science of taphonomy
  • Learn about types of preservation and destructive processes
  • Investigative approaches and experimental practices involved in incorporating taphonomic information in forensic, archaeological and palaeontological studies.

What you will study

  • The principles of taphonomy – decay and pathways to preservation
  • History and current state of the science
  • Taphonomy in deep time
  • Palaeontological considerations
  • Mineralogical preservation
  • Destructive processes
  • Interpreting organismal remains Signals and noise in the fossil record
  • Taphonomy in archaeology
  • Perimortem/postmortem processes
  • Soft vs. Hard part preservation
  • Experimental taphonomy
  • Biases

Teaching & Assessment

You will produce a portfolio of material linked to the aspects of preservation and decay covered throughout the module. This portfolio will include:

  • A short written piece (maximum of 1000 words) explaining taphonomic principles
  • Records of assessments of biological remains and experimental observations

You will also be assessed on other supporting evidence gathered from workshops and practicals undertaken across the module.

Fees & funding


Do you live in Wales? We have a number of funding opportunities available, please complete the form below to find out if you are eligible to study this course for free. Apply now via this form.

Course dates

If you would like to find out more about future dates for this course, register your interest.