Spring 2020 - ARCH 383 D100

Molecular Bioarchaeology (3)

Class Number: 5750

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    EDB 9643, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 23, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 3150, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Tom Royle
    Office: EDB 9622
    Office Hours: Mondays 12:30-1:30PM
  • Prerequisites:

    ARCH 131 or 201.



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 archaeological human, animal, and plant remains holds important genetic information that can be used to address many important archaeological questions. This course provides students with opportunities to learn the fundamental principles, methods, and applications of DNA and aDNA analyses and appreciate how they can inform archaeological interpretations 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 class discussions and debates, students will learn how to critically review published aDNA research and avoid potential misuses or overuses of DNA data in archaeology and forensics. Working in groups of 3-4, students will develop a mock research proposal that uses DNA/aDNA analysis to obtain the “expected” genetic information needed to address a research question or topic. The proposal project is conceived, developed, and finalized through group brainstorming and class presentations.


  • Lab Report 15%
  • Participation in Article Critiques 10%
  • Group Presentation 10%
  • Research Proposal 20%
  • Final Exam 45%



Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith and K. Ann Horsburgh. DNA for Archaeologists. Routledge. 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-5987-4681-5

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Students with Disabilities (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) 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 web site 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