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School of Environment, Education and Development

BSc Geography and Geology with a year abroad / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Environmental Soil Science - biogeochemistry

Unit code EART20802
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

It is only through an understanding of soil processes that effective strategies can be made to counteract humankinds effects of pollution and disturbance on soils.

Aims

To examine the soil as a functional unit of terrestrial ecosystems and human-made environments.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe in detail the importance of soil in the ecosystem
  • Explain the importance of decomposition to ecosystem function
  • Analyse humankinds effects of pollution and disturbance on soils, how these affect soils, and of remedial strategies.

Syllabus

Week 1:

Importance of decomposition in soil functioning (Dr Clare H. Robinson); the decomposition sub-system; decomposition as a function of leaching, comminution and catabolism.

 

Week 2:

Importance of decomposition in soil functioning (Dr Clare H. Robinson); decomposition as a function of the physico-chemical environment, resource quality and activities of decomposer organisms.

 

Week 3:

.

Importance of soil organisms in nutrient cycling (Dr Clare H. Robinson); micro-, meso- and macrofauna.

 

Week 4:

.

Importance of soil organisms in nutrient cycling (Dr Clare H. Robinson);

 

Weeks 5 to 7:

Plant-root symbioses (Prof. David Johnson); general introduction to the importance of N fixers and mycorrhizal fungi.

 Plant-root symbioses (Prof. David Johnson); roles in carbon and mineral nutrient cycling.

 Common mycorrhizal networks (Prof. David Johnson); biodiversity and ecosystem function relationships in soil; methods to link biodiversity and ecosystem function; soils and environmental change

 

Week 8:

Demonstration practical

 

Week 9:

Fieldwork (EART20042). 

 

Week 10:

Demonstration practical

Assessment methods

Lectures: 2 lectures per week

Practicals: Several 2.5 h practical sessions as advised

 

Assessment: Written examination (1.5 hours) 70%: Course work 30%

 

Coursework comprises two assessments, each worth 15%. Feedback about Coursework: Written feedback is given to each student within fifteen working days of each coursework hand-in date. Feedback about Examination: The marked examination script for each student will be made available for the student to see by arrangement during timetabled slots with Mr Mike Turner. Also at this time, an A4 sheet containing important points about how students’ examination answers could be improved will be posted on the Examination Feedback Noticeboard. 

 

 

Feedback methods

Feedback about Coursework: Written feedback is given to each student within fifteen working days of each coursework hand-in date.

 

Feedback about Examination: The marked examination script for each student will be made available for the student to see by arrangement during timetabled slots with Mr Mike Turner. Also at this time, an A4 sheet containing important points about how students’ examination answers could be improved will be posted on the Examination Feedback Noticeboard.

 

Feedback methods

Feedback about Coursework: Written feedback is given to each student within two weeks of each coursework hand-in date.

 

Feedback about Examination: The marked examination script for each student will be made available for the student to see by arrangement during timetabled slots with Mr Mike Turner. Also at this time, an A4 sheet containing important points about how students' examination answers could be improved will be posted on the Examination Feedback Noticeboard.

Recommended reading

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 100

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Clare Robinson Unit coordinator

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