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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

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. Students are introduced to modelling of agricultural impacts on soils and the environment so that mitigation strategies can be assessed.

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

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

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

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 and wider environmental impacts.  The impacts of increasing food production on the environment will also be considered. Modelling of soil processes related to food security and the environment will be taught.

Associated Costs


In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Field Course during University week13
  • 1 Science Laboratory during University weeks 14 - 16
  • 2 Lectures during University weeks 13 - 18

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

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%)


Resit: Resubmission of failed individual elements of continuous assessment

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. 

Course Learning Outcomes


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