Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Normally A or AS level Biology or its equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 1h lectures
Practical 2 x 3h practicals
Other 1 x 3h field trip


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   70%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment of practicals. To be handed in first week of term 2.  30%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   written examination; re-submission of failed course work.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completing the module students should be able to

  • describe the basic soil components and how they vary
  • explain how these components interact in determining practical soil characteristics and plant response
  • explain the scientific basis of common soil management practices and how they affect soil quality.


This module describes soil properties - physical, chemical and biological - and relates these properties to practical soil management. There is an emphasis on agricultural land use with consideration of both production and environmental issues. Other land uses are considered as appropriate.
The lecture course opens with a consideration of soil physical and chemical processes, describing their implications for soil management and plant growth.
Soil constituents and physical properties covered include particle size distribution; organisation of soil particles and creation of pore space; variations in soil texture, structure and their effects on aeration/water supply; processes leading to the development of structure in soils; soil water content, conductivity and moisture potentials; temperature and heat fluxes in soils. The soil nutrient and fertility section covers soil acidity and liming; major nutrient cycles, the assessment of nutrient availability; principles of using manures and fertilisers; nutrient losses and their environmental impact.
Soil management topics covered include the management of soil water to optimise plant growth; cultivation effects on soil properties and plant growth; soil degradation problems.
Practical classes provide experience in soil evaluation and opportunities to quantify the influence of varying soil properties on agriculturally and environmentally important soil functions. Data handling and presentation skills are developed in practical sessions.


To introduce the main components of soils and their influence on soil processes. To consider how variations in these components influence soil properties of relevance to plant growth and land management.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Campbell, N. and Reece, J. (2005) Biology 7th Benjamin Cummings Publishers Primo search
Reference Text
Ashman, M.R. & Puri, G. (2002) Essential soil science: a clear and concise introduction to soil science. Primo search Batey, T. (1988) Soil husbandry; a practical guide to the use and management of soils Soil & Land consultants Aberdeen Primo search Brady, N.C. & Weil, R.R. (1993) The nature and properties of soils 11th Macmillan, New York Primo search Cresser, M., Killham, K. & Edwards, T. (1993) Soil chemistry and its applications. Primo search Rudeforth, C.C. et al (1984) Soil survey of England & Wales Soils and their use in Wales Cambridge University Press Primo search Wild, A. (1988) Russells soil conditions and plant growth 11th Longmans Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4