Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Soil, Geochemistry and Environment
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours.
Seminars / Tutorials 5 hours
Practical 5 hours fieldwork


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 3,500 word course essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment Re-submission of failed coursework essay  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Supplementary examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

* Critically describe and exemplify the ways in which human activities impact on the chemistry of soils.

* Understand, identify and exemplify the impact of soil chemistry on the environment and the health of plants and animals, including humans.

* Critically review appropriate literature sources on specific topics within the subject area.


Provisional list of lecture topics:

Lecture 1: Introduction; a history of soil:human interactions
Lecture 2: Archaeology and soil chemistry
Lecture 3: Soils and fertilizers
Lecture 4: Soils and pesticides
Lectures 5 & 6: Trace element geochemistry; geochemical mapping; trace element imbalances in agricultural systems
Lecture 7 & 8: Soils and human health
Lectures 9: Soil selenium
Lecture 10: Soils, climate change and implications for human health

Brief description

This module will study the impact of human societies on soil chemistry, and will consider the environmental consequences to plant and animal (including human) life. The module will include a historical approach to many of the issues covered, and will focus on many examples from the UK although, where appropriate, case studies elsewhere will also be provided.


The aim of this module is to provide students with knowledge of some of the environmental and applied issues that centre around soils, by concentrating primarily on how human beings have either deliberately or involuntarily altered the chemical status of this important resource.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Writing communication skills will be assessed in the course essay and examination work, and discussion will be encouraged in class (the latter will not be assessed).
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be encouraged to use, and guidance will be given in lectures, of appropriate readings of library and web-based material.
Information Technology Data and knowledge can be acquired from appropriate web sources that will be of use for both the examination and the extended course essay. The latter will be word processed, and the use of other IT packages for analysis and the presentation of results will be encouraged.
Personal Development and Career planning The themes covered in this module are applicable to modern human society, and students will be made aware of the potential to pursue a career in applied soil science.
Problem solving This module addresses issues on the human use of soils, and the deliberate or otherwise modification of this important natural resource. Students will learn to identify key issues relating to this issue and modification, and will acquire knowledge regarding how to address soil related problems.
Research skills A range of research skills (e.g. the acquisition of knowledge and relevant data and its handling) are developed in the 2nd year undergraduate programmes. These will be employed in the production of the extended course essay and examination work.
Subject Specific Skills Familiarisation with specific topics relating to soil use, modification and environmental impact (including implications to human health).

Reading List

General Text
Ellis, S. & Mellor, A. (1995) Soils and Environment. Routledge Primo search Selinus, O. (2005) Medical Geology. Academic Press Primo search Wild, A. (2002) Soils and the Environment: An introduction. Cambridge University Press Primo search Abrahams, P.W. (2002) Soils: their implications to human health. The Science of the Total Environment, 291, 1-32. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6