University of Technology Sydney

99814 Introduction to Forensic Taphonomy

6cp; availability: by invitation only


This subject introduces students to the multidisciplinary fields of forensic taphonomy. Taphonomy refers to the study of organic remains from the time of death to the time of discovery. Forensic taphonomy investigates the physical, chemical and biological processes of human and animal decomposition and associated evidence. Students gain an understanding of the effect of environmental variables on the process of decomposition and conduct a search for and recovery of decomposed remains. Forensic taphonomy encompasses a broad range of disciplines and this subject includes topics on decomposition chemistry, entomology, anthropology, archaeology, geology, geophysics, and ecology. At completion of the subject, students have a greater understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of search and recovery investigations and the multitude of disciplines available to investigators when decomposed or skeletal remains are located. They also learn to reflect on the value and ethics of ‘body farms’, facilities used by researchers and police to advance the knowledge base of forensic taphonomy. As part of this subject, students will visit The Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research.

Detailed subject description.

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