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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Novel strategies for carbon storage in soil (PGGE11214)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will encourage you to think about technologies that are not only transformative, but harness the scale and ubiquity of natural processes. It considers possibilities for their adoption in the context of multiple global challenges.

At a technical level the course will encourage understanding of the connections between soil,
land-use and wider biophysical and socio-economic systems. At a practical level it will stimulate
innovative thinking and problem solving, facilitated through group work.
Course description The course will cover:
- Biochar production, function and use
- Biochar systems
- Carbonation
- Peatland.
The course is connected to the UK Biochar Research Centre ( and the SUCCESS project at Newcastle ( This provides students direct access to the findings of current research around the course topics.

Lectures (8) and Practicals (1 or 2) will be on Thursdays 09:00-11:00 (until 13:00 in Wk11).
Note that there will be no lecture or practical in Wk5.
Lectures will be held in Rm5 of the Crew Building Annex (School of GeoSciences), King's
Buildings. One of the Practicals (field visits) is on the KB campus. The other is an experimental
field site. For both practicals, please meet outside the Crew Building Annexe.

Wk 1 - Introduction: Engineering soils for carbon storage
Wk 2 - Biochar principles and systems
Wk 3 - Biochar production systems
Wk 4 - Biochar properties and soil functions
Wk 6 - UKBRC pyrolysis facilities (University of Edinburgh)
Wk 7 - Biochar systems fit - soils and agriculture
Wk 8 - Biochar systems fit - biomass and bioenergy
Wk 9 - Introduction to carbonation
Wk 10 - Introduction to peatland management
Wk 11- Carbonation field experiment (Newcastle University)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 16, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Fieldwork Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment is entirely in-course. The form of assessment is similar for the 20- and 10-credit options, but greater detail expected for the 20-credit option.
In-course assessment 100%:
- Report on Practical 1 30%
- Essay - a system-based strategy for biochar deployment in a defined agricultural context (of the student's choice, to include diagrams / schematics and calculation of potential) 70%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Recognise transformative technology options for land management and their purpose
  2. Appreciate the diversity of soil as a matrix and how carbon, nutrient and mineral composition affects the associated agriculture, energy and resource systems
  3. Assess strategies for use of technologies for their flexibility, systems fit and policy context in deployment mode
  4. Form opinions based on science that can contribute to wider public and policy debate
Reading List
These books provide comprehensive information on biochar and carbonates in soil. Although these approach the topics from a technical / biophysical point of view, the Routledge book does also consider economics and systems. Students are encouraged to read Naomi Klein's book 'This Changes Everything', for a popular critique of capitalism and climate change.

Lehmann J and Joseph S (2015) Biochar for Environmental Management: Science and Technology (2nd edition), Routledge, 976pp.

Kimble JM and Stewart BA (1999) Global Climate Change and Pedogenic Carbonates, CRC Press, 320pp

A bibliography of key journal articles will be posted on Learn as the course progresses.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills *Thinking outside the box (beyond current technology to emergent or transformative technologies);
*System level thinking (understanding the interactions of agriculture with connected systems);
*Innovative thinking and problem solving developed through facilitated group work.
Additional Class Delivery Information 8 x 4 hours (8 x 2 for 10-credit students). Each weekly session would start with 2 x 50 min lectures. The last two hours (for those taking this for 20 credits) would involve facilitated group work. Two four-hour sessions for (1) visit to biochar research labs and pyrolysis facility (2) visit to a SRUC field site. Only one-visit will be required for the 10-credit students.
KeywordsSustainable intensification,international development,bioenergy,carbon cycle,greenhouse gases,r
Course organiserDr Saran Sohi
Tel: (0131 6)51 4471
Course secretaryMs Kathryn Will
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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