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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work, and a quiz on soil classification. We expect students to keep a detailed log of field trips to learn survey techniques and to consult for the quiz. An essay will also assessed.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Paul Hallett

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Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Considers the factors and processes that form soils; the aspects that govern the distribution and evolution of soils in a local, regional and global scale; the interaction of soils with biological processes and their susceptibility to environmental change; the classification and taxonomy of soils; and the use of mapping in land capability and other practices. Weekly field trips provide hands-on experience across northeast Scotland.

Associated Costs


Details, including assessment, may be subject to change until 31 July 2022 for 1st half-session courses and 23 December 2022 for 2nd half-session courses.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Field Course during University weeks 7 - 10
  • 3 Lectures during University weeks 7 - 10
  • 2 Lectures during University week11
  • 1 Seminar during University week11

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessment, may be subject to change until 31 July 2022 for 1st half-session courses and 23 December 2022 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Soil Taxonomy Presentation 30%

Essay 40%

Soil Classification Quiz 30%


The quiz will test students on course material and also the field trips.  There will still be an expectation of clear note-taking on field trips.  Essay questions will require students to use critical thought to address a challenge related to soil sustainability, requiring knowledge of processes involved in formation and degradation, in addition to potential global/regional differences due to soil properties.

Resit: Resubmission of failed individual elements of continuous assessment

Formative Assessment

 A strong emphasis will be made throughout the course on informal verbal feedback during discussions, field trips, practicals and presentations.


Each student will receive individual feedback and a mark for each task. Feedback will be provided as written comments.

Course Learning Outcomes


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