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Last modified: 27 Feb 2018 14:39

Course Overview


This advanced soil science course provides additional teaching of physical, chemical and biological properties of soils in the context of food security. You will learn a variety of processes that affect soil productivity, accompanied by practical sessions that will teach relevant analytical methods. The wide range of soil processes taught will be brought together at the end of the course to provide a working knowledge of agronomy, including the interactions between crops and specific chemical or physical properties of soils.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor Paul Hallett

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Any Postgraduate Programme (Studied) or BI4015 Grant Proposal (Passed)
  • One of MRes Environmental Science or MRes Soil Science or MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology or Master Of Science In Ecology & Conservation or MSc Soil Science or Master Of Science In Environmental Pollution And Remediation or Master Of Science In Environmental Management or Master Of Science In Environmental And Ecological Sciences or MSc Environmental Science or MSci Biological Sciences or Bachelor Of Science In Environmental And Forest Management

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • PL3309 Soils for Food Security (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description


The course examines soil conditions in relation to environmental sustainability and food security. This will be into context of soil management, inherent soil properties and major limiting factors such as water availability.

  • The first stage will consider the soil physical environment through aspects of structure, mechanical behaviour and the relationship with water. This will be supplemented with field work and practical laboratory work to examine the impact of inherent soil properties and soil management.

  • The soil chemical environment will focus on pH, mineralogy, exchange sites and nutrient/ trace nutrient availability. Contrasting soil types will be used to underpin these concepts. There will be complementary laboratory and field work and data processing.

  • The final stage will be to integrate the first two parts with the plant environment with a specific emphasis on agronomy.  The impacts of increasing food production on the environment will also be considered.

Associated Costs


Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • MRes Soil Science
  • MSc Soil Science

Contact Teaching Time

78 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


The assessment for this course is 100% continual assessment. The assessments are based on three assignments related to the practical sessions with a strong emphasis on data analysis, statistical applications and summarizing large volumes of information.

Student Debate on Soils for Food Security (30%)

Executive Summary of student debates on a topic relevant to Soils for Food Security (20%)

Two laboratory reports with a strong emphasis on data analysis, statistical applications and summarizing large volumes of information.

    1. Soil physics laboratory report (15%)
    2. Saline irrigation laboratory report (35%)

Formative Assessment

The field trips, tutorials and practical sessions will provide opportunities for student-student and student-instructor interaction.  Formative assessment will be provided during these interactions.



Students will get generic verbal feedback on each laboratory report and during tutorials in relation to progress on tasks.  Each student will receive individual feedback and a grade for each laboratory report.  Feedback will be provided as written comments. 

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