FNSC5515 Molecular Osteology

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
This is an introductory unit in molecular osteology, the interdisciplinary collaboration between physical anthropology and molecular biology to facilitate forensic identification of unknown remains. The unit provides students with basic knowledge, and practical experience, in the following concepts and principles: (1) bone diagenesis—considerations for molecular sampling; (2) fundamentals of proper preparation of bone material prior to molecular sampling; (3) DNA extraction and analysis—sex determination and general ancestry; (4) species and personnel identification using mtDNA and STR profiles; (5) guidelines for analysis—minimisation of contamination, authentication and reproduction; (6) laser ablation ICP-MS and spectral fingerprinting; (7) isotopes and their application in determining geographic origin and diet; and (8) commingling of bones—reassignment using bone isotope composition.
Students are able to (1) explain bone diagensis and how it affects the ability to acquire forensic data.; (2) demonstrate competence in sampling procedures, including decontamination; (3) identify the latest available methods for molecular analysis of bone material and critically evaluate their forensic efficacy; (4) define laser ablation and other chemical approaches for the analysis of biological samples; (5) explain the analytical procedures involved in the reassignment of commingled remains based on molecular and bone chemistry approaches; and (6) demonstrate an awareness of the latest developments in molecular osteology in relation to forensic practice.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) practical work; (2) research essay
; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Silvana Gaudieri and Associate Professor Daniel Franklin
Unit rules
enrolment in the Graduate Certificate in Forensic Anthropology (72280) Graduate Diploma in Forensic Anthropology (72380) or Master of Forensic Anthropology (72580)
Contact hours
lectures: 8 x 1.5 hours; tutorials: 8 x 1.5 hours; lab work: approximately 2 hours per week
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  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.