Module Identifier GG33020  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Peter W Abrahams  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite GG10410  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours examination50%
Semester Assessment 3,500 word course essay50%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours Supplementary examination50%
Supplementary Assessment Re-submission of failed coursework essay50%

Learning outcomes

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


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 & 10: Soil acidification and the impact of acid rain on soils


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.

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.

Module Skills

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.  
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.  
Subject Specific Skills Familiarisation with specific topics relating to soil use, modification and environmental impact (including implications to human health).  

Reading Lists

Ellis, S. & Mellor, A. (1995) Soils and Environment. Routledge
Selinus, O. (2004) Medical Geology. Academic Press
Wild, A. (1993) Soils and the Environment: An introduction. Cambridge University Press

Abrahams, P.W. (2002) Soils: their implications to human health. The Science of the Total Environment, 291, 1-32.


This module is at CQFW Level 6