Preservation & decay

Course details

  • Location Online, Wrexham
A forensics student examining a skeleton's remains

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

Entry requirements & applying

To book onto the 7th and 8th September 2022 date, please click here.

To book onto the 10th and 11th September 2022 date, please click here.

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


Course dates

Course 1 – Online content will be available from the 8th of August. Practical face-to-face sessions will take place over 2 days; Wednesday the 7th & Thursday the 8th of September.

Course 2 – Online content will be available from the 8th August. Practical face-to-face sessions will take place over 2 days; Saturday the 10th & Sunday the 11th of September.