Archive for reference only

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Soil, Water and Atmospheric Processes (ECSC08003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaEcological Science Other subject areaEnvironmental Courses
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe study of the near-surface processes that underpin the exchange of gases, water and nutrients at the scale of the organism to the landscape. This course provides a background in soil science, environmental physics and hydrology required to tackle issues such as land degradation, climate and land use change and microclimate modification.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 28, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 16, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Formative Assessment Hours 6, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 139 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 65 %, Coursework 35 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have developed a broad knowledge of the near-surface processes that underpin the exchange of gases, water and nutrients at the scale of the organism to the landscape. Students will gain an understanding of soil science, environmental physics and hyrology which will enable them to tackle professional issues such as land degradataion, climate and land use change and microclimate modification by following routine lines of enquiry. Students will be expected to be able to:
- Explain how microclimate can be modified, the factors affecting the drainage of a soil, how rainfall reaches river channels and explain the role of soil organic matter in soil fertility and structure
- Students will learn a range of routine skills such as:
o Being able to carry out both soil and water quality surveys
o Constructing a water balance for a catchment and showing how it is affected by a change in land use
o Constructing an energy balance for a range of surfaces
o Calculating return periods for extreme events such as floods and drought
- Appreciate the interaction between surface water and groundwater in the catchment hydrological cycle
- Understand how distinct soil horizons and soil series develop under the influence of factors such as parent material, topography and climate
- Discuss the principles of energy exchange in organisms
- Understand the errors involved in measurements of soil, water and meterogoical properties
- Discuss the factors (including pH and CEC) affecting the availability and the fixation of essential nutrients and potentially toxic elements in soil
- By the end of this course, students will be able to critically analyse some of the main concepts associated with soil, water and the atmosphere.
Assessment Information
Degree examination 65%; in-course assessment 35%. In-course assessment consists of 3 practical reports/worksheets, 3 tutorial hand-ins and a multiple choice test. The 2 hour degree examination contains two sections: A and B. Section A comprises compulsory multiple choice questions. Section B is a short answer section in which students answer 4 questions from a choice of 9 and answer a minimum number of 1 question each from the sections on atmosphere, water and soil.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list - Rose, C.W. (2004) An Introduction to the Environmental Physics of Soil, Water and Watersheds, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Although this textbook is the closest fit to the course content it does not cover all aspects of the course material. You will therefore need to consult the textbooks listed below. Many textbooks are in the Reserve sections of University libraries; if there are any difficulties in obtaining these books, please let the Course Organiser know.
- Oke, T.R. (1987) Boundary Layer Climates. 2nd Ed. Routledge. ISBN 0415043190 (the best textbook for the Atmosphere section of the course)
- Ashman, M. R. and Puri G. (2002) Essential soil science: a clear and concise introduction to soil science. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford. (A good basic textbook, suitable for this course but not for more advanced environmental science study).
- Brady, N. C. and Weil, R. R. (2008) The Nature and Properties of Soils (14th Ed). Pearson Education. (The latest edition of the classic soil textbook which goes beyond this course and will stand you in good stead for most undergraduate soil science).
- Ward, R.C. and Robinson, M. (1999). Principles of Hydrology (4th Ed). McGraw - Hill. (Well-respected hydrology textbook with good coverage of hydrological processes. Will stand you in good stead for most undergraduate hydrology. The 3rd Ed is also suitable).
- Davie, T. (2002) Fundamentals of Hydrology. Routledge. (A good basic textbook, cheaper to buy than Ward and Robinson).
Please see the course handbook for information about supplementary reading and further information about readings for each lecture.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr John Moncrieff
Tel: (0131 6)50 5402
Course secretaryMs Meredith Corey
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2013 The University of Edinburgh - 13 January 2014 3:54 am