Find a Degree Undergraduate Plant & Soil Science

Plant & Soil Science at Aberdeen is the only Plant & Soil Science degree in the UK. The interaction between plants and soils is the basis for sustainability in all natural and managed terrestrial ecosystems.

Why Aberdeen?

  • A recent internal teaching review panel commended the School of Biological Sciences for its committed, professional and enthusiastic teaching across a wide range of degree programmes. The panel was also impressed with the course choice within degrees and by the emphasis on field courses and field-based teaching, including opportunities and support for expeditions
  • Plenty of opportunities for field courses and expeditions
  • Opportunities to interact with end-users, such as Scottish Natural Heritage or bioremediation companies
  • Close integration with the James Hutton Institute, one of the UK’s foremost environmental research centres
  • Students benefit from participating in field work in the vicinities of our field work stations on the Black Isle and Bettyhill, Sutherland 


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Plant Biology

Study Abroad

There will be opportunities for expeditions, voluntary work overseas and ‘year-out’ placements. International exchanges are also possible, normally in the second year of a four year programme. Similarly, it is possible to study for part of the degree in another European university under the ERASMUS programme. 
Study Abroad Information

The Aberdeen Difference

The opportunity to take Enhanced Study options as part of your degree and participate in co-curricular activities. See for more information.

Environmental or Sustainability Content

Degree programmes in this discipline area contain Environmental or Sustainability Content.

In accordance with degree requirements, four courses at levels 1 and 2 combined and two courses at levels 3 and 4 combined must meet the requirements of enhanced study. These courses provide an opportunity for sustained study in other disciplines, disciplinary breadth and cross-discipline study (Sixth Century Courses).

First Year

All students of Plant and Soil Science take eight courses, including four foundation biology courses (Organismal Biology, The Cell, Ecology and Environmental Science and Diversity of Life 1 & 2). In addition, a course in Chemistry is also studied. This leaves a choice of three further courses which would normally contribute towards enhanced study. In addition to the eight courses, students will attend a summer field trip to Bettyhill in the north of Scotland where Plants and their Habitats in Northern Scotland is studied.

Second Year

All students take eight courses including a skills course in Life Sciences. Other courses include Ecology and Topics in Plant and Soil Biology. Further courses of student choice contribute towards enhanced study.

Third Year (Junior Honours)

Students study eight courses, including a further skills course in Life Sciences. Other recommended courses are taken from Plant Ecology, Plant-Environment Interactions, Global Soil Geography, Ecosystem Processes, Environmental Analysis and Plant Biogeography. There is a strong element of practical laboratory training and fieldwork, plus visits to research institutes, conservation and environmental protection agencies and commercial companies.

Fourth Year (Senior Honours)

An independent research project is an important part of the final year. Students join established research groups or follow their own approved interests in the field or laboratory. Many use data collected on expeditions undertaken between levels 3 and 4; others work in the laboratories of local institutes. Other discipline courses are chosen from Environmental Pollution, Current Issues in Biological and Environmental Sciences, Ecological and Environmental Modelling and Environmental Impact Assessment

As students progress with their studies they will spend an increasing amount of time in  the Cruickshank Building. This is situated in an 11 acre Botanic Garden containing over 2,500 different plant species or cultivars. Also on site are extensive greenhouses and controlled environment facilities for growing plants and an important international herbarium. Staff at Cruickshank have strong links with the British Society for Soil Science, British Ecological Society and the nearby James Hutton Institute.

Teaching and Assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, laboratory practicals, fieldwork, seminars and tutorials. Courses are assessed by both continuous assessment and a written examination.


Our graduates have a good record of employment in environmental protection agencies or in the private sector in environmental consultancy, bioremediation, or biotechnology companies. There are also opportunities in environmental education and communications. Many work for overseas development agencies, drawing on the tropical experience in their degree. A high proportion go on to a higher degree, and then into posts in the agricultural, horticultural and food industries, research institutes, universities or nature conservation bodies.

Finding your direction

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success.  The Careers Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us – from first to final year – and beyond.

Minimum Entrance Requirements

SQA Highers - AABB*
A Levels - BBB*
IB - 32 points, 5 at HL
ILC - AAABB (B1 or B2 required)*
*including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB or A Levels ABB or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at A-grade.

For further details of entrance requirements click here

Please click on the links below to find out more information on funding in your area.

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Further Information

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
The Hub
King's College

Tel: +44 (0)1224 272090 / +44 (0)1224 272091
Fax: +44 (0)1224 272576