If you love soil so much that you want to learn everything about it, then you are spoilt for choice for course options in the United Kingdom (UK). Here, I’ve made a list of all the courses and degrees I could find and write about in the space of 5 hours. Therefore whilst I’ve spent hours compiling this list, it is by no means exhaustive. Ultimately though, I want it to be the most comprehensive guide on soil science courses available to study from the UK! Please get in touch if I’ve missed something off!
There are of course programs with soil science modules. For example, most geography programs will have a soil science component as will agricultural focused courses. It is not my intent to list these. Instead these lists are courses with soil science fundamentals, understanding soil importance and/or managing soil as the primary focus. Ultimately if you’re splashing hard-earned cash on a course, it is worth contacting the course co-ordinators to get an understanding of what you will and will not learn.
They are in no particular order and I’ve split them into free, mostly free and pay for options. Anyway, without further ado, here’s the current list of soil science courses I have come across that are available to study if you’re based in the UK.
Although theoretical training in soil science is a great start, ultimately practical experience is hands down the best way to learn about soil. This is what you pay for in paid courses. That and being able to question the experts.
Free soil science courses
If you’re wanting to get a basic, and in some cases, what seems like quite a detailed understanding, of soil then you can’t go wrong with these courses. They are free! Who doesn’t love free?! The quality of these will vary hugely. Some seem downright excellent and others, well they are free, so what do you expect?! I’d love to get the time to review them thoroughly for you, and one day I may. For now, leave a comment below if you found any of these particularly good.
- I’m super intrigued by this virtual field trip to Devon offered by The OpenScience Laboratory at The Open University and The Wolfson Foundation: “Sorting Out Soils”. You’ll need to sign up for a free account to access the materials.
- This section wouldn’t be complete without listing YouTube as an option. Just search for “soil science” and copious videos will appear for your viewing pleasure, most focused around brief <5 minutes introductions. In fact, amazingly, there is a whole university-level soil science course playlist from Jonathan Russell-Annelli at Cornell University. This is insane! This is an amazing resource that I want to shout out.
- “Climate-smart Soil and Land Management” run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. A course designed for an understanding at a basic level of soil management and its importance. Also available in Spanish, Arabic and French.
Free soil science courses that have options you may need to pay for
These courses typically take the form that they are free to learn but you will have to pay extra if you want a certificate and/or grading.
- Alison has an incredibly detailed selection of free to view/learn soil science courses. The “Advanced Diploma in Soil Science and Technology” looks to be one of the most comprehensive. I mean they even have an “Advanced Diploma in Unsaturated Soil Mechanics” so there’s some effort been put into here! If you want to get a certificate at the end, then you will need to pay about £20 to £30.
- Wageningen University in the Netherlands through edX runs MOOCs such as “Sustainable Soil Management: Soil for Life”. Although the time varies when they are available, they have regular new starts. You’ll need to pay £143 if you want to access graded assignments and a certificate, though most of the learning materials will be free.
Soil science courses you’ll need to pay for
If you’re seriously wanting to go down the soil science career route then these are the best options for you. The UK has a wealth of expertise in soil science and these course options will take advantage of that. You’ll gain practical and hands-on experience delivered by experts in the field. Some of these will be more theoretical and academic and some more applied.
There is a wide variety of price points, which I haven’t specified here. However I’ve split them into different levels which will have a general increase in cost. These are continued professional development (CPD)(i.e. shorter standalone courses), college level and undergraduate, and postgraduate (MSc level only). I’m not including PhD level courses here because any institution that runs undergraduate and postgraduate MSc level programs will most likely be able to accommodate PhD level study.
Continuing Professional Development Courses to access any time
- Lancaster University’s Future Learn course, Soil Science: Exploring the World Beneath our Feet. Currently (August 2022), £32 to do as a one-off course. To quote their blurb; “Discover how soil is crucial for life on Earth, how humans impact this fragile system, and what we can do to better protect it.” Of 231 reviews on Future Learn, it gets a 4.7/5.
- Udemy has a small range of soil science courses that’ll cost you £15.99. You’ll need to delete the site cookies if you want to reset the ‘limited time offer’ countdown timer. The “Microbial Analysis for Growers” course by Mary Lucero piqued my interest. Other options include “Soil Mechanics” and “Introduction to Building Better Soils”.
- “Soil Management (Agriculture)” by ACS Distance Education looks quite comprehensive and as the name suggests, has a focus on agriculture. It costs £308.80 which includes a 5% online discount.
- Learning Cloud has the first course I found aimed at teaching soil management for gardeners (“Soil Management Horticulture“). They have a couple of others as well. Based in Ireland.
Continuing Professional Development and other courses which have (or may have) specific start dates
These are generally institutions or organisations that run soil science courses on an ad-hoc basis. They may vary through the year so keep an eye on them to make sure you don’t miss out. This one is not an exhaustive list. There are an awful lot of local agricultural training groups who don’t have great web presence. These types of providers will give you great local, hands on and practical advice for soils in your area. It’s worth asking around your region if this is what you are looking for. If you are running semi-regular soil courses and you’re not on this list, please get in touch and I’ll add you on.
- Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur seems to run a lot of soil-based courses, through for example Swayam, NPTEL and Alison. Some of these videos are available on YouTube.
- The British Society for Soil Science (BSSS) runs practical classes like soil classification in the field at various times. It’s worth keeping up with their events page to find any that interest you.
- BASIS have lots of agronomy focused, practical courses and through certified training providers occasionally run soil focused ones. At the time of writing these include “Basis Soil and Water Management Course” and “Advanced Quality of Soils (Level 6)”. There’s not much info (i.e. none) about the courses on their website so you’ll need to contact them to find out more.
- Further to the above point, GrowTrain Ltd run some soil courses including the Advanced Quality of Soils (Level 6) at a cost of £1100.
- Harper Adams University runs residential soil courses including “Soil Management and Cultivations” for £750. It’s not clear when the dates are for these.
- The University of Lincoln also runs soil courses including the “BASIS Quality of Soils” for £1155. They have course dates.
- Various soil-focused courses including “Soils and Cultivations” by Chelmsford and West Essex Training
- The Soil Science Society of Australia runs periodic webinars and short online courses.
Learning about soil in a group setting in the outdoors is a great way to learn about the management of soil.
Undergraduate Level Degree Courses
There are not many in-person degree level soil science courses in the UK… If you want to seriously consider doing a degree with significant soil components, then you’ll need to look in detail at courses within the degree programs. Universities such as Reading, Lancaster, Warwick, Bangor, Cranfield and Edinburgh all have significant soil science research departments, but don’t offer a focused degree. It’s also worth considering agricultural programs too as these will likely have significant soil husbandry teachings if more on an applied rather than academic basis.
- BSc Plant and Soil Science at the University of Aberdeen; four year degree at £1820pa if you’re from Scotland and £9250pa from the rest of the UK.
Postgraduate MSc Courses (Taught and by Research)
There are also few postgraduate level, in-person soil science courses in the UK.
- MSc Soil Science at the University of Aberdeen. This is where I hail from, having an MSc in Soil Science by research so no bias here … . The University of Aberdeen has a long history of producing and employing distinguished soil scientists so it’s a great option if you want to study soil science at an advanced level. Fees vary according to what part of the world you come from, but it’s currently (2022/23) £11,800 if you come from the UK for an MSc or MRes.
- MSc in Soils and Sustainability at the Scottish Rural College in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh. To quote SRUC; “This course is designed for students interested in a career in land-based management or environmental protection, and teaches the importance and role of soils in the 21st century.” Costs £8300 (Scotland) and £8700 (rest of UK).
- If you’re looking for a more geotechnical angle then Imperial College London offers an MSc in Soil Mechanics. For UK entry it’s £15,400 for the one year degree.
Courses I haven’t yet verified exist…
As I mentioned above there are potential local agricultural course providers with poor web presence that I can’t currently verify whether they still exist. Without contacting them directly, which isn’t a current priority on my to-do-list… I can’t help much more than list them here in the hope they are a pointer for you.
- DJL Agonomics; includes “Soil Dynamics” and based in Lincolnshire
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, I try to post weekly content relevant to all levels of researchers working in the field of plant and soil science and to help demystify the life of academia.
Annette Raffan is a postgraduate researcher in plant and soil science at the University of Aberdeen. I’ve tried to provide an unbiased account of soil science options in the UK. If I’ve missed a course, it isn’t deliberate. All photos/images etc. my own unless otherwise specified; they are free for personal use but you must link back to this page/cite if you use any – thanks!
- Earth Sciences.
- Soil Science.
- Hydrology & Water Management.
- Climate Studies & Meteorology.
- Biodiversity & Conservation.
- Sustainable Development.
Direct Entry Candidates (4 years programme):
National Certificate of Education (NCE) pass with a minimum of credit grade (60 to 69) obtained from a college of Education recognized by the university with relevant subject combinations from among Agricultural Science, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry and Economics.
Home > College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine > MSc in Soil Science. Objectives of the Program: Produce capable graduates with strong theoretical knowledge and practical skill for undertaking teaching, research, extension, and consultancy activities in soils and other land resources.What is BS Soil Science? ›
Program Overview. The Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Soil Science program (BSA-SS) provides knowledge and skills in the study of the characteristics, management, and protection of soil resources in agricultural, wetland, forest as well as urban ecosystems.Is Soil Science a good course? ›
Through a degree in soil science or closely related fields of natural resources, earth or environmental science with sufficient soil-related course work, a person can identify and manage soil for agriculture, forestry, rangeland, urban uses, ecosystem, and mining reclamation in environmental friendly way.What are the pass requirements for soil and plant scientist? ›
Degree: The minimum requirement for a soil scientist is a 4-year BSc (Agric) or a 3-year BSc with Soil Science as major subject.Which country is best for Soil Science? ›
- Soil Science in USA.
- Soil Science in Canada.
- Environmental consultancies.
- Research establishments.
- Commercial and industrial organizations.
- Universities and other educational institutions.
- Voluntary or charitable environmental organizations.
- The Civil Service.
- Public education centres.
- Food production companies.
In addition, they earn an average bonus of R10,481. Salary estimates based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in South Africa. An entry level soil scientist (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of R343,747.What can I do with a masters in Soil Science? ›
Soil scientists with advanced degrees may find employment in government agencies, national labs, academia, private business, environmental and agricultural consulting, and organic, international, and sustainable agriculture.
Soil Science Practice
Academically, soil scientists tend to be drawn to one of five areas of specialization: microbiology, pedology, edaphology, physics or chemistry.
Soil scientists investigate the physical, chemical and biological characteristics and behavior of soils, their description and classification, and their management for both agricultural and non-agricultural uses.What is role of soil science in agriculture? ›
Soil science provides an understanding of how soil properties relate to and can be managed for optimal agricultural production, forest, range, and wetland management, urban land use, waste disposal and management, and reclamation of drastically disturbed sites, such as mines.How do I become a soil scientist UK? ›
You can only become a soil scientist if you have a degree in a relevant subject such as soil science, environmental science or geology. Many employers also expect a relevant postgraduate qualification. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.Do soil scientists make good money? ›
How much does a Soil Scientist make? Soil scientists make $91,463 per year on average, or $43.97 per hour, in the United States. Soil scientists on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $60,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $137,000.What is a soil scientist called? ›
Soil scientists include agrologists, pedologists and soil classifiers.How many points is Soil Science? ›
Final Grade 12 marks of at least 60% for Mathematics and 60% for Physical Sciences.What is the job outlook for a soil and plant scientist? ›
Also known as:
Eligibility to become Plant Biologist
The candidate must hold a Bachelor's / Master's, Ph. D. degree in Biological Sciences, Agriculture, Botany, Biology or related disciplines to apply for various job roles as a Plant Biologist. He/ She must have technical knowledge and understanding of plant life.
Plant and Soil Sciences | University of Pretoria.
Soil Scientists in Mining Operation
During mine operation, Soil Scientists would help examine the soil, and check if it is all right to start digging, and if there is no contaminated soil. During that process, the soil scientists would be examining soil.
Some personal qualities of soil scientists include being practical; working well in a team and as an individual; being analytical; having strong communication, writing, planning and organizing skills; and problem solving.Who studies soils? ›
A soil scientist is a person who is qualified to evaluate and interpret soils and soil-related data for the purpose of understanding soil resources as they contribute to not only agricultural production, but as they affect environmental quality and as they are managed for protection of human health and the environment.Who is Father of soil science? ›
Celebrating the 175th anniversary of Vasily Dokuchaev, the father of soil science. Born in Russia on 1st March 1846, Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev is a very well-known figure to all soil scientists worldwide. As a Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at the St.Are plant scientists in demand? ›
Overall employment of agricultural and food scientists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. About 4,100 openings for agricultural and food scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade.What is the highest paying occupation? ›
|OCCUPATION||2021 MEDIAN PAY|
|General internal medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
|Family medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
|Emergency medicine physicians||This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year|
Soil science has two branches of study. The two branches are Edaphology and Pedology. Edaphology is concerned with the influence of soils on living things. It is also focused on the conservation of soil and loss or erosion.What is the scope of soil chemistry? ›
Soil chemists research concerns about organic and inorganic soil contamination, pesticides and other pollutants, and environmental health risks.What is the scope of soil geography? ›
Soil Geography is the branch of Physical Geography. Physical Geography is the main branch of Geography which deals with the study of land features, climate, oceans, plants, animals and rocks. Soils are the product of rocks. Soil Geography is the science which deals with the study of characteristics and types of soils.What does an environmental soil scientist do? ›
Overview: Soil scientists analyze characteristics of soil, the different soil types, and research the ability to survive in differentiated conditions. They also are responsible for the study of soil structure, properties, chemical compensations and the different stages of transformations that soil goes through.
- Agribusiness. ...
- Biotechnology. ...
- Crop and Food Production. ...
- Plant Breeding and Genetics. ...
- Urban Agriculture and Horticulture. ...
- Water Quality and Environmental Systems. ...
- Weed Sciences.
Environmental scientists do work in a lab most of the time, but since they work on special projects, they often travel to complete fieldwork as well.What are the 11 types of agriculture? ›
- Pastoral Farming.
- Arable Farming.
- Shifting Agriculture.
- Mixed Farming.
- Nomadic Agriculture.
- Sedentary Agriculture.
- Subsistence Farming.
- Commercial Agriculture.
The agriculture industry in India has been segregated into 17 major sectors, including farming, agriculture equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, warehousing, cold chain, food processing, dairy market, floriculture, apiculture, sericulture, seeds, fisheries, poultry, animal husbandry, animal feed, and bio-agriculture.What are the 8 major areas of agriculture? ›
- Apiculture (Beekeeping)
- Agricultural chemistry.
- Agricultural communication.
What is another name for a soil scientist? What does he do? pedologists. pedologists study soil, soil formation, and erosion.Why do we need to study soil science? ›
Understanding the physical properties of soils is important to proper soil and agronomic management, as well as water quality and climate change. We seek to understand the transport of energy, water, solutes, and gases throughout soil structures.Is soil science an environmental science? ›
Soil science involves the study of the formation and distribution of soil, the biological, chemical and physical properties and processes of soil and how these processes interact with wider systems to help inform environmental management, industry and sustainable development.What is called a study of soil and production of crops? ›
agronomy, branch of agriculture that deals with field crop production and soil management. Agronomists generally work with crops that are grown on a large scale (e.g., small grains) and that require relatively little management.What are the 5 importance of soil? ›
Healthy soils are essential for healthy plant growth, human nutrition, and water filtration. Healthy soil supports a landscape that is more resilient to the impacts of drought, flood, or fire. Soil helps to regulate the Earth's climate and stores more carbon than all of the world's forests combined.
The favourable soil for farming is loamy soil. It has an equal amount of clay, sand, and silt. They are highly productive for the growth of crops.What are the 10 importance of soil? ›
Soil provides plants with foothold for their roots and holds the necessary nutrients for plants to grow; it filters the rainwater and regulates the discharge of excess rainwater, preventing flooding; it is capable of storing large amounts of organic carbon; it buffers against pollutants, thus protecting groundwater ...Which soil is not suitable for agriculture? ›
Laterite soil is not suitable for cultivation because it is acidic in nature and does not retain moisture.Why is soil studied in agriculture? ›
They give advice on what nutrients the soil needs, when to use them and how to protect the waterways around their farm.What is plant and soil science? ›
Plant and Soil Sciences, through theoretical and practical training, prepares students to tackle real-world problems by integrating and applying knowledge they learn from different disciplines. This program includes rigorous training in biology and laboratory methods.What is coarse soil? ›
Coarse-grained soil refers to the soil in which the grains are between 0.075 mm and 60 mm accounting for more than 50% of its total mass [How is soil degrading? ›
It can be the loss of organic matter, decline in soil fertility, and structural condition, erosion, adverse changes in salinity, acidity or alkalinity, and the effects of toxic chemicals, pollutants or excessive flooding. Soil degradation can involve: water erosion (includes sheet, rill and gully erosion) wind erosion.What are the 5 fields of soil science? ›
Soil Science Practice
Academically, soil scientists tend to be drawn to one of five areas of specialization: microbiology, pedology, edaphology, physics or chemistry.
Soil scientists include agrologists, pedologists and soil classifiers.What are 5 reasons for studying soil? ›
- Deep connection with Earth Sciences. Soil Science and Soil Ecology is obviously is very related and integrated with Earth Sciences - Geology, Geography, Geophysics. ...
- Interesting study process. ...
- Diverse career options. ...
- Helping humanity.
Plant Sciences is the study of plant growth, reproduction, evolution, and adaptation, as well as the use of plants for food, fiber, and ornamental purposes. Majoring in Plant Sciences will help you make a positive difference in the world.What are the 6 types of soil? ›
Soil can be categorised into sand, clay, silt, peat, chalk and loam types of soil based on the dominating size of the particles within a soil.What are the 3 types of soil? ›
Soil can be classified into three primary types based on its texture – sand, silt and clay. However, the percentage of these can vary, resulting in more compound types of soil such as loamy sand, sandy clay, silty clay, etc.How many types of soil are there? ›
The six types of soil
There are six main soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky and loamy. They each have different properties and it is important to know these to make the best choices and get the most from your garden.
The biggest challenge for soil science is to combine the important role of soils for climate change with its' crucial role in food production for the growing world population.Which country has the best soil in the world? ›
Found in Ukraine, parts of Russia and the USA, mollisols are some of the world's most fertile soil. This type of soil includes black soils with high organic content.What are the 3 types of soil degradation? ›
Soil degradation can be classified into four main types of degradation: water erosion, wind erosion, chemical deterioration and physical deterioration.