General Details

Full Title
Transcript Title
N/A %
Subject Area
ENVR - Environmental Science
ESCI - Environmental Science
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2013 - Full Academic Year 2013-14
End Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
Cait Coyle, Ann-Marie Duddy
Programme Membership
SG_SAGRI_G06 000000 Higher Certificate in Science in Agri-Food Science SG_SAGRI_B07 201800 Bachelor of Science in Science in Agri-Food Science SG_SAGRI_H08 201800 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science in Agri-Food Science

This module provides students with fundamental knowledge and practical skills on key physical, chemical and biological soil properties.  Factors influencing soil development will be addressed together with soil functions.  The module describes the main threats to soil quality and investigates the development of suitable soil quality indicators as a measure to protect soil.  Other soil protection measures are also explored.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Describe key physical, chemical and biological soil properties.


Distinguish between common soil types and appraise the influence of the main factors of soil formation.


Demonstrate knowledge of essential facts, concepts and principles associated with a deterioration in soil quality (including sources and nature of threats)


Acquire, analyse and interpret field and laboratory data relating to key soil characteristics with a critical understanding of the context.


Maintain detailed records of activities in the laboratory/field


Produce a scientific report

Teaching and Learning Strategies


Module Assessment Strategies

Theory element During the delivery of this module, self-learning is encouraged among students through the use of comprehensive on-line resources including voice-supported presentations and on-line notes. Regular summative tests are used to encourage engagement with the module, monitor progress and provide feedback. This approach enables the student to take timely corrective action, in the event of failure to achieve the required standard, before the results significantly impact on the final grade.

Practical element: Field and laboratory techniques and report-writing ability are assessed as part of the practical work performed during the module.  


Repeat Assessments


Module Dependencies


Indicative Syllabus


Factors influencing soil formation.

Soil classification systems.

Soil Physics (texture, structure, soil water relationships).

Soil Chemistry (clay mineralogy, pH, organic matter, isomorphous substitution, CEC, nutrients, potential pollutants).

Soil biology (introduction to key microorganisms in the soil, their role in the degradation of organic matter, their symbiotic relationship with plants and an appraisal of the importance of soil fauna to soil health).  

Soil Functions.

Soil quality indicators.

Effects on soil quality of various land-use activities (e.g. agriculture, built environment, waste disposal, mining, generation of renewable energy) & Land/soil management.

Methods used to assess the environmental impact associated with selected land-uses) - Case study INTERREG IVA ANSWER project

Field Tests

Soil texture/structure/colour.

Soil permeability.

In-situ soil classification.

Soil sampling strategies in the field.

Soil preparation and sub-sampling for analysis.

Trip to soil/land-use research sites


Soil pH,


Liming requirements, 


% Base saturation,

Analysis of essential soil nutrients.





Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
50 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
50 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Short Answer Questions Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 10 % Week 7 1,2,3
2 Performance Evaluation (Lab note-book) Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 15 % OnGoing 1,4,5
3 Written Report (lab/field study) Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 25 % Week 10 1,3,4,6

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final Exam Final Exam UNKNOWN 50 % End of Term 1,2,5,6

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre (lectures) 2 Weekly 2.00
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory (or field studies) 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self Study 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Bitton G. (Editor) 2002 Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology 6 Volume Set New York : Wiley.

Brady, N.C. (1990) The Nature and Property of Soils.  MacMillan, new York.

Fay, D., McGrath, D., Zhang, C., Carrigg, C., O'Flaherty, V., Kramers, G., Carton, O.T., and Grennan, E. (2007).  Towards a National Soil Database: Synthesis Report. (2001-CD/S2 M2) ERTDI Report Series No.69. Teagasc and EPA, Wexford.

Fay, D., Kramers, G., Zhang, C., McGrath, D. and Grennan, E. (2007).  Soil Geochemical Atlas of Ireland, Ed. Kramers, G. Teagasc and EPA, Wexford.

Fitzpatrick, E.A. (1995).  An Introduction to Soil Science.  Longman, Harlow, U.K.

Fredrickson J. K., Fletcher M. (Ed) 2001. Subsurface Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (Wiley Series in Ecological and Applied Microbiology), Chichester : Wiley.

Gardiner, M.J. and Radford, T. (1980).  Soil Associations of Ireland.  An Foras Taluntais, Wexford.

Hurst, C J. Crawford, R. L. Knudsen, G. R. McInerney, M. J. Linda D. Stetzenbach. Eds.  2002. Manual of Environmental Microbiology. Washington, D.C. ASM Press,.

Pepper I. L. Gerba C. P. Brendecke J. W. 1995. Environmental Microbiology: A Laboratory Manual (Paperback) San Diego : Academic Press.

Other Resources

Examination hall for end of semester final theory exam.

Laboratory for practicals.

Lecture theatre for lectures.

Soil sampling equipment.

Transportation for a fieldtrip.

Additional Information