University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Soil Ecology and Taxonomy (PGGE11221)

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
SummaryYou will gain more specific in-depth knowledge of soil biodiversity and ecology. It will focus on:
- the soil taxonomy of macro-arthropods and micro-organisms;
- and its response to environmental change (such as erosion, acid and nitrogen deposition, and agriculture to name a few).
The role that soil organisms play in ecosystem function and C and N fluxes will be outlined, together with the functional role of biodiversity.

Course description Biodiveristy
1) Biodiversity (what it is, how you measure it, indices, taxonomic as well as functional, alpha-beta-gamma-diversity, below-ground versus above-ground.
2) Biodiversity and ecological function

Soil Micro-Arthropods
3) Identification of key Micro-arthropod taxa and characteristics (i.e. nematode, collembola, etc.)
4) Assessment Techniques
5) Case study examples:
- Interactions with other biota
- Abiotic Interactions
- Bio-monitoring examples
6) Field visit to Boghall (Micro-arthropods)

Soil Microbiology
7) Identification of key taxa and characteristics
8) Assessment techniques,
9) Case-study examples
- Plant-microbe interactions
- Abiotic Interactions
- Interactions with other biota
10) A field trip to the Edinburgh genomic centre

This course provides an insight and experience of skills sets identified as currently desirable to both the student cohort and employment sector concerned with soil biodiversity and the wider environment and their study.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs No
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Formative Assessment Hours 10, Summative Assessment Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The module will be evaluated through presentation (10%) and submission of a 3000 word essay or report (40%). These will allow the student to utilise the information gained within class in relation to ecologically important processes or ecosystem services.
For the formal examination in December (50%), students will be asked to complete one exam essay question (25%) and 5 short answer questions (5% each) within a 2 hour examination period.

Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Quantify the taxonomic and metabolic diversity of key groups of soil biota an identify the role of these key groups in ecosystem processes (such as root - microbe interactions) and biogeochemical cycles such as the C and N cycles and development of C sinks.
  2. Conduct isolation and molecular techniques of key groups of soil biota.
  3. Identify the extent to which soil biota reduce ability to perform services in response to anthropogenic activities such as agricultural inputs.
  4. Show extended project management and organisation skills with improved communication, management and interactive skills developed through group work.
  5. Plan and write assignments, within the specified parameters and to a professional standard that includes the development of reasoned arguments, firmly grounded in the available literature show.
Reading List
Paul E.A. (2015) Soil Microbiology, Ecology and Biochemistry 4th Edition. ISBN 978-0-12-415955-6.
Ritz. K., Wall., D. H., Bardgett, R.D. et al. (2013) Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. ISBN-13: 978-0199688166.
Bargett R.D., Wardle D. A. (2010) Aboveground-Belowground Linkages: Biotic Interactions, Ecosystem Processes, and Global Change (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution). ISBN-10: 0199546886
Killham, K. (1994) Soil Ecology, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0 521 43521 8.
Robertson GP, Coleman DC, Bledsoe CS, Sollins P, editors. (1999) Standard soil methods for long-term ecological research. New York: Oxford University Press; pp. 258271.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will acquire and develop the following transferable
1. General analytical understanding of tests pertinent to soil biota assessment in a range of setting and environments
2. Organisation skills to plan, execute and report on
scientific investigation.
3. To participate in individual and team activities toward the completion of assignments and goals.
4. Critically evaluate literature, to identify gaps in knowledge, synergies.
Special Arrangements None
Study Abroad No
Keywordsaxonomy,Biodiversity,Function,Land Use and Ecosystem Services
Course organiserDr Jennifer Carfrae
Tel: 0131 535 4417
Course secretaryMrs Elspeth Martin
Tel: 0131 535 4198
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