Analysis and Interpretation of Skeletal Trauma Short Course

4-DAY SHORT COURSE: Monday 27 August – Thursday 30 August 2018

Download the A4 flyer for this course (PDF)

Course Description:

In conjunction with the Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, this intensive short course is delivered by The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM), Australia’s largest multi-disciplinary centre for forensic medical and scientific services. The primary focus of this course is the principles and practice of the analysis and interpretation of skeletal trauma. Course content includes detailed lectures and interactive sessions on trauma biomechanics, blunt force trauma, low and high velocity projectile trauma, sharp force trauma and taphonomic processes. This unique course is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and will enable participants to apply principles and learnings to real case scenarios. It is relevant to professionals and students involved in the analysis of human skeletal remains including forensic anthropologists, forensic pathologists (and registrars), doctors, biological archaeologists and heritage officers. A basic knowledge of human osteology is required to participate. Lectures will be delivered by medicolegal and forensic science experts from the VIFM and external organisations.

Course Objectives:

At the end of the course participants will have:

  • an understanding of the role of different experts in the analysis and
    interpretation of skeletal trauma
  • a basic understanding of the biomechanics of skeletal trauma
  • knowledge of different types of trauma including blunt force, sharp force and
    high and low velocity projectile force trauma
  • an understanding of the complexity of interpreting the timing of skeletal
  • knowledge about the importance of taphonomy in the context of interpreting
    skeletal defects
  • an understanding of the role of post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT)
    in the context of analysing and interpreting skeletal trauma
  • awareness of the limitations when giving evidence in court related to skeletal

Course Convenors

Soren Blau

Associate Professor Soren Blau
Senior Senior Forensic Anthropologist,
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine

Associate Professor Soren Blau is the senior course convenor and has extensive international experience in the recovery and analysis of human remains in archaeological and forensic contexts. Soren is the Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University and Founding Fellow Faculty of Science, The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, and has delivered training to forensic practitioners and related stakeholders in Australia and overseas. Soren undertakes domestic forensic anthropology casework as well as consultancies for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Samantha Rowbotham






Ms Samantha Rowbotham
Research Fellow,
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine

Samantha is a Research Fellow with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, a Forensic Anthropology Trainee (Faculty of Science) with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, and is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Forensic Medicine) with Monash University. Samantha holds a Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology) with the University of Queensland, a Master of Archaeological Science (Research) (First Class Honours) with the Australian National University, and is a recipient of a Veski 2017 Victoria Fellowship. Since 2009 she has been involved with archaeological excavations, osteology research and bioarchaeology teaching projects in Asia, Europe, Central America and Australia, and since 2014 she has been involved with the forensic anthropology casework in Victoria, Australia.

How to register:

For more information or to register, please contact:

Rosalie Clementson
Tel: +61 3 9684 4322



Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Southbank.
Plueckhahn Lecture Theatre.
65 Kavanagh Street, Southbank, VIC 3006.
Please check here for directions and parking.


Registration fee is $1,250 incl. GST
Sessions on Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday will run from 9.00am to 5.00pm and the Thursday session will run from 9.00am to 1.00pm
A minimum of 15 people are required to run the course and registrations will close on 14 July 2018
Successful completion of this short course meets the RCPA Category A (Group Activities/Meetings) annual minimum hours requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


Day 1 – Monday 27th August 2018

Introduction to skeletal trauma

Working with the forensic pathologist

Skeletal trauma biomechanics

Skeletal blunt force trauma (BFT) – overview

Fracture characteristics

BFT case studies


Day 2 – Tuesday 28th August 2018

Low and high velocity projectile skeletal trauma – overview

Projectile weapon characteristics

Effects of low and high velocity projectile forces on bone

Low velocity case studies

Effects of explosions on bone

High velocity case studies


Day 3 – Wednesday 29h August 2018

Skeletal sharp force trauma (SFT) – overview

SFT weapon characteristics

SFT case studies

Taphonomic processes and skeletal trauma analysis

Terminology and timing of skeletal trauma analysis

Interpretation of taphonomic processes

Taphonomy case studies


Day 4 – Thursday 30th August 2018

Practical and complex case studies (open review)

PMCT and the analysis of skeletal trauma

Provision of expert evidence on skeletal trauma

Summary and conclusion of course

Download the A4 flyer for this course