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

Postgraduate Course: Soil Protection and Management (PGGE11183)

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
Summary"If humanity's overarching need for food security and nutrition, climate change mitigation and sustainable development is to be met, soil resources have to be given the global attention they deserve" Moujahed Achouri, Director of the FAO Land and Water Division.

Soils are a vital resource for food, fibre, fuel; climate regulation; provide habitats and support biodiversity; important component of flood regulation and water quality; provide foundations or infrastructure and cultural heritage. In the Soil Protection and Management course we introduce you to the major functions of soil, the challenges soils face in a changing world and strategies to improve sustainable soil use.
This course begins with Dr Sarah Buckingham providing an introduction to what soils are, their composition, key characteristics and formation of different soil types and the range of soil functions and ecosystem services they provide. What constitutes a ¿healthy¿ soil are outlined, leading to discussions on the major causes of soil degradation threatening soil health and quality globally. The role of soil systems and land use in greenhouse gas mitigation and climate regulation is reviewed in week 3 where concepts of greenhouse gas trade-offs and net-zero emissions are explored. Dr Paul Hargreaves will then provide more practical guidance on the importance of soil fertility, structure and physical condition, and biological activity and its importance in agriculture and food production. Prof Bob Rees will extend upon this to compare issues in soil management of different regions, for example sub-Saharan Africa and China. In week 6 we take an excursion to Peebles to look at land management case studies with Derek Robeson of the Tweed Valley Forum following by a discussion session in Week 7. Dr Luis Novo and Dr Andrew Innes will discuss management techniques to prevent land degradation by toxic element contamination, salinization, soil erosion and techniques to promote restoration of contaminated and disturbed land will be considered.
Course description When: Monday 14:00 - 17:00 GMT, Semester 1
Location: Kings Buildings (tbc)

Week 1: 19.09.22
Lecture Theme: Fundamentals of Soil Science
Content Description: Soil formation, composition and development. Soil characterisation and key properties. Soil Functions and Ecosystem Services
Lecturer: Dr Sarah Buckingham, SRUC

Week 2: 26.09.22
Lecture Theme: Pressures and Threats to Soil Systems
Content Description: What are healthy soils? What causes soil degradation? Overview of major threats to soil systems (erosion, sealing, acidification, salinisation) and impacts of climate change
Lecturer: Dr Sarah Buckingham, SRUC

Week 3: 03.10.22
Lecture Theme: Soils, land use, and mitigating climate change
Content Description: Soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.
Lecturer: Dr Sarah Buckingham, SRUC

Week 4: 10.10.22
Lecture: Theme: Management of Soil Physical Conditions
Content Description: Management of soil physical conditions and soil water: Soil quality indicators and Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS). Lecture and Laboratory session
Lecturer: Dr Paul Hargreaves, SRUC

Week 5: 17.10.22
Lecture Theme: Soils in Sub-Sahara Africa and China
Content Description: A comparison between soil systems of sub-Saharan Africa and China. The challenges of soil management in these environments
Prof Bob Rees, SRUC

Week 6: 24.10.22
Lecture Theme: Field Excursion: Land Management Case Studies
Content Description: Field excursion to Tweed Valley Forum (E.g. Peatland restoration, Flood Management, Habitat creation, Riparian woodlands, Land use challenges, Carbon storage. Making space for Farming, Forestry and Conservation).
Lecturer: Derek Robeson, Tweed Valley Forum

Week 7: 31.10.22
Lecture Theme: Discussion Session
Content Description: Mixture of group and class activities on soil degradation and soil management
Lecturer: Dr Sarah Buckingham, SRUC

Week 8: 07.11.22
Lecture Theme: Contaminated Soils
Content Description: Identifying contaminated land, site evaluation, Source-pathway-receptor, identifying risks, hazards and exposure. Contaminated land regime in the UK- Legal Framework
Lecturer: Dr Luis Novo, SRUC

Week 9: 14.11.22
Lecture Theme: Remediation of Contaminated Soils
Content Description: Design and implementation of remediation, Overview of remediation techniques and technologies: Biological, physical and chemical
Lecturer: Dr Andrew Innes, SRUC

Week 10: 21.11.22
Lecture Theme: Assessed presentation session
Content Description: List of titles to be agreed beforehand this will be discussed in Week 1
Lecturer: TBC
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% for oral presentation
40% for essay
40% for research proposal
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have an understanding of soil formation, classification and global distribution.
  2. Determine interactions between soil and the environment
  3. Identify key factors driving reduction in soil quality and increased erosion potential.
  4. Evaluate land management practise to mitigate negative impacts on soil.
Reading List
As the course covers many different topics, further online reading guidance specific to each topic is provided within lecture material weekly.
However if you are new to soil science and are keen to conduct some preliminary background reading, the following textbooks provide valuable background material for the course.
*We do not expect you to purchase these books to undertake the course, you will be provided with reading material weekly*
¿ Barrow, C.J. (1991). Land Degradation. Cambridge University Press.
¿ Brady N.C. and Weil R.R. (2007). The nature and properties of soils (14th Edition).
¿ Harris, J.A., Birch, P. & Palmer, J. (1996). Land Restoration and Reclamation - Principles and Practice. Longman, London.
¿ Hudson, N. W. (1995). Soil Conservation (3rd Edition) Batsford, London.
¿ Marshall J.T., Homes C.T., and Rose C.W. (1996). Soil Physics.
¿ Morgan, R. P. C. (2005). Soil Erosion and Conservation (3rd ed) Blackwell, Oxford.
¿ Sparks, D.L. (2002). Environmental Soil Chemistry. (2nd Edition) Academic Press.
¿ Tan, K. H. (2000). Environmental Soil Science (2nd Edition). M. Dekker, New York.
¿ Wild, A. (2003). Soils, Land and Food: Managing the Land during the Twenty-First Century.
¿ Code of Good Practice, giving practical advice to farmers etc on minimising pollution. Scottish Executive 2005
¿ Papadopolous, A et al., (2014) Does organic management lead to enhanced soil physical quality? Geoderma 213: 435-443
¿ Dobbie, K.E, Bruneau, P.M.C and Towers, W (Eds) 2011. The State of Scottish Soils. Natural Scotland,
¿ Blum, W.E.H (2005) Functions of soil for society and the environment. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology 4:75¿79
¿ Smith, P et al., (2010) Competition for land. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 365: 2941-2957

Online resources relating to soil threats:
¿ FAO Soils Portal
¿ FAO Status of the World¿s Resources:
¿ Global Soil Partnership ¿ Global Soil Threats by region:
¿ Valuing your soils:
¿ Valuing your Soils Brochure: Practical Guidance for Scottish Farmers:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills You will have the opportunity to develop and understanding of the pressures and issues relating to soil preservation, management and rehabilitation and to develop potential land management strategies to alleviate or remediate these issues.
KeywordsSoil,protection,management,soil sustainability,envrironmental management
Course organiserDr Sarah Buckingham
Course secretaryMs Jennifer Gumbrell
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