Archaeology students given trigger warning over images of dead bodies and bones

9 June 2022, 00:51 | Updated: 9 June 2022, 06:25

University of York issued a content warning for it's archaeology students
University of York issued a content warning for it's archaeology students. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A university has been accused of "infantilisation" after they issued archaeology students with a "content warning" over modules that include images of bones and human remains.

The University of York pre warned students that during their course they will encounter potentially upsetting content such as images of dead bodies and human skeletal material in modules such as 'mummification'.

A website description of the course reads: "From new scientific techniques in archaeological fieldwork to the analysis of human and animal bones​, BSc Archaeology allows you to explore the past and its people from a scientific perspective."

On Campus there is also a purpose-built Bioarchaeology labs with facilities which include a "dedicated laboratory for bone preparation" equipped with bone saws and drills.

But the university warned prospective learners: "Content Warning: This module occasionally shows images and videos of human remains."

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Archaeology students were warned about images of dead bodies and human remains
Archaeology students were warned about images of dead bodies and human remains. Picture: Alamy

Students who enrolled to study an optional module on "themes of violence and conflict within world archaeology" were warned they will encounter images of dead bodies and "frequent discussion of extreme and ritualised violence" during their studies.

The trigger warning was met with criticism from Alan Sked, emeritus professor for the department of international history at LSE, who said it was an example of the "infantilisation of British universities".

He told the Telegraph: "Not so long ago Glasgow University warned its theology students that a course on Christ ended with a very violent episode called the crucifixion.

"Its archaeology students were warned in advance that digs might reveal human remains."

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Whilst MP Andrew Bridgen told MailOnline:  "If the archeology students are worried about seeing human remains perhaps they should have considered another course."

York is not the only higher education facility to come under fire for trigger warnings after the University of Chester issued a blanket warning certain themes in its "Approaches to Literature" module, which had students read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as one of three literary texts.

The trigger warning seen by the Mail told students: "Although we are studying a selection of Young Adult texts on this Module, the nature of the theories we apply to them can lead to some difficult conversations about gender, race, sexuality, class, and identity.

"These topics will be treated objectively, critically, and most crucially, with respect. If anyone has any issues with the content, please get in touch with the Module Leader to make them aware."