AESC20060 Soil Science Basics

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module is a basic introduction to soil science. Themes are: Soil Functions, Soil Components, Soil Structure, Soil Biology, Soil Water, Soils of Ireland, Soils of the World, Soil Colloids, Soil Acidity, Soil Nutrients, Soils and Climate.

A short series of three practical classes give hands-on examples of the methods used to describe soil materials in the field, and allow students to demonstrate the effects of soil-structure on soil behaviour. Compliance with instructions on the use of personal protective equipment (lab coats and protective eyewear), and safe work practices with glassware and hazardous chemicals are required.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should understand the nature of soil, its constituents and how they are organised, the main terms used to describe soil, and the major physical and chemical processes that have occurred during its formation and continue today. Students will have been introduced to the role of soils in productive agriculture and other land management systems, and the contribution of soil management to sustainable production systems. Practical skills in observing soil materials, and in describing them from a constrained technical vocabulary will have been gained.

Indicative Module Content:

Pedology: how soils are observed and described.
Soil components: mineral material, organic material, soil water, soil air, and pores, roots and soil organisms.
Soil formation, classification and survey.
Soil chemistry and fertility.
Soil husbandry for agronomic and environmental objectives.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Live lectures will be the main mode of delivery of module content.
Additional recorded or online materials will be provided, but the main material will only be presented in the live lectures.
Practical sessions will give hands-on access to soil materials. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Since a chemistry module is a prerequisite for this course, students are expected to be familiar with the requirements of safe practice in a laboratory environment, the need for compliance with use of personal protective equipment (lab coats and protective eye wear), and handling of glassware with hazardous substances.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
CHEM00020 - Introductory Chemistry (Ag), CHEM10010 - Intro to Biomolecules, CHEM10040 - The Molecular World, CHEM10050 - Basis of Organic & Biol Chem, CHEM10060 - Phys & Inorg Chem

AESC20070 - Soil Resources, AESC40410 - Soil, Plant & Water Resources

Additional Information:
Students must have taken one of the required CHEM modules listed.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Multiple Choice Questionnaire (Short): Short MCQs and similar will be held for assessment during the trimester, as specified in the course schedule. Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Lab Report: Practical Reports Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

During 10 hours of practicals, students have opportunities to discuss the practicals and broader topics with staff. Automated feedback is given, with individual feedback for both correct and incorrect answers, for formative multiple-choice quizzes in Brightspace. A grading guide will be given following grading of each practical, showing example answers, and the range of possible answers, on each task in the practical answer-sheets.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Paul Murphy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Magdalena Necpalova Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Saoirse Tracy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer