Dr Layla Renshaw


My research and teaching expertise combines forensic sciences and social sciences in the study of death and burial, with a strong focus on post-conflict and human rights investigations. My research interests include the role of archaeology in post-conflict investigations, the relationship between human remains and traumatic memory, and public and media perceptions of forensics.

I was an assistant archaeologist with the United Nation's International Criminal Tribunal for former-Yugoslavia, working on the exhumation and identification of war victims in post-war Kosovo. I have also worked in a consultative capacity for a number of UK police constabularies, working on human identification.

One of my primary research areas is the impact of recent and ongoing exhumations of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War. I carried out extensive field work in communities in rural Spain, assisting in exhumations and conducting ethnographic research with survivors, witnesses, forensic experts and relatives of the dead. I have written extensively on this topic, including a book in 2011, and have presented my work at a large number of national and international meetings and conferences.

My recent research concerns the recovery and commemoration of Australian and British World War I soldiers from Fromelles, Northern France, concentrating on the process of human identification, genetic testing, and the engagement of relatives in this process. I am also looking more broadly at the complex issues associated with the recovery of war dead from post-colonial contexts, and have organised a symposium and a recent special journal issue exploring these themes.

I have a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Oxford University, and I completed an MSc in Forensic Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. My PhD is in Anthropology, also from UCL.

I joined Kingston University in 2003 and I am now Associate Professor in Forensic Science. I teach topics in forensic archaeology and anthropology and also supervise a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate research in methods of human identification and skeletal analysis.

Academic responsibilities

Associate professor


  • 2017 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • 2004 - 2006 PG Cert HE. Kingston University
  • 2003 - 2009 PhD Anthropology. UCL
  • 2000 - 2001 MSc. Forensic Archaeological Sciences. UCL
  • 1997 - 2000 BA Hons Archaeology and Anthropology. Oxford University

Teaching and learning

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


My research interests include:Social, political and ethical considerations in the investigation of war and human rights abuses. The archaeological and anthropological investigation of 20th century conflict, particularly the Spanish Civil War and World War I. The relationship between memory and physical evidence, in the investigation of the traumatic past.Media representation of, and public understanding, of exhumations, forensic science and genetics.Methods of human identification and skeletal analysis.I also supervise undegraduate and postgraduate research in aspects of forensic anthroology, in conjunction with the Centre of Human Bioarchaeology at the Museum of London, concerning methods of skeletal identification, skeletal indicators of age, sex and population ancestry, life history reconstruction, nutritional and occupational stress markers, and skeletal and dental pathology.