Spring 2023 - ARCH 383 D100

Ancient and Forensic DNA (3)

Class Number: 4011

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2023
    12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Any lower division ARCH, BISC, BPK, CHEM, CRIM or HSCI course.



Introduces molecular biology techniques used to analyze DNA to address archaeological questions and applications to degraded DNA samples for forensic identification of human remains and conservation of endangered species.


Ancient DNA (aDNA) recovered from ancient human, animal, and plant remans and archaeological sediments holds important genetic information that can be used to address many important questions about past cultures and environments. This course provides students with opportunities to learn the fundamental principles and methods of DNA and aDNA analyses, and to appreciate their unique contributions to archaeological research of the past and the challenging forensic cases of the present. Through computer lab exercises, students will gain some hands-on experience in DNA sequence retrieval, sequence analysis and data interpretation. By participating in discussions and debates, students will learn how to critically review published aDNA works and avoid potential misuses or overuses of DNA data in archaeology and forensics. Students will develop a mock proposal for a research project l that uses DNA/aDNA analysis to obtain the genetic information needed to address an archaeological or forensic research question or topic of their choice.


  • Mid-Term Exam 40%
  • Lab report 15%
  • Participation 10%
  • Take-Home Final Exam 15%
  • Research Proposal 20%



Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith and K. Ann Horsburgh. DNA for Archaeologists. Routledge. 2012.

ISBN: 978-1-5987-4681-5


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html