University of Dundee

Forensics Students Write Their Own Textbook

23 Jun 2010

The 2010 class of graduates from the Honours degree in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee have set a new standard – by writing their own textbook for future students.

Final-year students on the highly regarded course – who are set to celebrate at their Graduation ceremony on Thursday morning (June 24th) - have written all of the chapters of the soon-to-be-published Forensic Anthropology 2000-2010. It forms a guide to the subject, which will be invaluable to successive cohorts of students.

“The book is a review of forensic anthropology of the last decade, written by students for students,” said Professor Sue Black, Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the College of Life Sciences, Dundee.

“The publishers, Taylor and Francis, tell us they have never come across an undergraduate class writing a new textbook on their subject, so this is a real first for the students and for them.  It is a great accolade to the quality of our undergraduate students that they will graduate with an undergraduate degree and their first publication.”

Twenty-one undergraduate students contributed to the book’s twelve chapters, with some additional input from postgraduate students and each chapter was assigned to a member of staff. The text was based on coursework submitted by the students.

“The principle is to give future students a book that can act as a starting point for finding information and setting out on research projects,” said Professor Black. “I think our students have done a fantastic job on this and I can’t praise them enough.”

Eilidh Ferguson is one of the students who worked on the book. She also co-edited the book alongside Professor Black.

“This has been an incredibly challenging year, trying to finish off our degrees while also putting together a book, but it has brought us together as a class,” said Eilidh, who is from Aberfeldy.

“Working together to create something that will not only serve us in our future career choices but will provide a real guide to future students has been a great experience. This book will hopefully give the students who follow us onto the course an initial point of contact with the vast literature that exists around the subject.

“Of course, it isn’t bad for our own CVs either, to have written a book before we have even graduated!”

The Forensic Anthropology course is run by the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at the College of Life Sciences. CAHID is a leading international centre in human identification, forensic anthropology, cranio-facial reconstruction and the study of the human body.

Professor Black and other members of the CAHID team recently featured in the major BBC2 series `History Cold Case’, which showcased their expertise across the field of human identification.