Foundation degrees

Course Information

Soils and Environments

Module summary

Module code: OAGR1015
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Peter Burt


Pre and co requisites



The aims of this course are to develop student’s knowledge of the importance of soils, soil studies and soil organisms in the context of sustainable development. Students will also be shown how natural environmental processes, such as erosion, flooding and drought, influence soil dynamics. The skills needed to apply this knowledge to practical management of soils for sustainable use will be stressed. More broadly, the course.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Reflect on the key elements involved in the formation of soils and classification of soils of the world, assessing the relative roles played by each in various parts of the world.
2 Recognise the origins and importance of erosion and desertification in soils, evaluating the various the roles of environmental conditions in governing these, and apply approaches to combat them.
3 Apply a knowledge of the diversity, distribution and functions of the major groups of soil biota in controlling soil formation and ecology, particularly in tropical soils and critically evaluate the role of soil organisms in decomposition processes and nutrient cycles.
4 Reflect on the role of man in maintaining and enhancing soil fertility and structure through appropriate cropping systems and the effects of such interventions on soil biota, and apply this information in appropriate contexts.

Indicative content

• Soil formation and classification: the principles of soil formation with particular reference to the role of soil biota in tropical soils. A review of the principal systems of soil classification and their application in soil management.
• Effects and control of erosion and desertification in tropical soils: o and importance of soil erosion and “desertification”, and approaches to their control.
• Soil organisms and biological processes in soils: the distribution, diversity and functions of soil micro-organisms and fauna and their interactions with other components of the ecosystem, decomposition processes and nutrient cycles as influenced by soil organisms.
• Cropping systems and soil management: Practical options for maintaining and improving soil fertility and structure in cropping systems.

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be presented through a combination of formal lectures and case studies.


Method of summative assessment: Essay
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length:Up to 3,500 words
Outline Details:Essay on an aspect of soil/environmental relationships.

Method of summative assessment: Examination
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length:2 hour examination
Outline Details:n/a

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Discussions of case studies, general lecture material and contemporary issues.
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3,4