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Unit Overview


This is an introductory unit covering the fundamentals of soil science in the context of agriculture, environmental science and geography. In field, practical and lecture classes the unit covers soil description and morphology (pedology); soil formation (pedogenesis); detailed soil biological, chemical and physical processes and properties, including an introduction to the cycling of water and nutrients in soils; plus soil acidification and salinity. It addresses the consequences of soil and landscape properties for environmental management, and land uses such as agriculture, horticulture, habitation and infrastructure.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Agricultural Science; Environmental Science; Agricultural Science and Technology; Environmental Science and Management; Molecular Life Sciences; Environmental Science and Ecology major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics and formation of soils and the influence of climate, landform and geology; (2) explain the fundamentals of physical, chemical and biological processes and functions in soils, including soil biogeochemical cycles; (3) apply skills in laboratory analysis and field observation of soils and their landscapes; (4) integrate diverse soil knowledge and apply it to problems in environmental science, agriculture and geography; and (5) apply professional skills in scientific communication in the context of soils and soil environments.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) scientific report; (2) online tests; and (3) letter to client. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Louise Barton
Unit rules
Successful completion of
any one CHEM1003 Introductory Chemistry
or CHEX1003 Introductory Chemistry
or ATAR Subject(s) Chemistry
and Successful completion of
any one EART1105 Dynamic Planet
or ENVT1104 Environmental Science and Technology
or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology
or BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology
and Successful completion of
any one SCIE1104 Science, Society and Data Analysis
or STAT1400 Statistics for Science
or STAX1400 Statistics for Science
or STAT1520 Economic and Business Statistics
or STAX1520 Economic and Business Statistics
Unit(s) EART2222 Geomorphology and Soils
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
practical classes: 3 hours per week for 11 weeks from week 1
field trips: 12 hours total (1 day trip on weekends during semester)

White, R. E. Principles and Practice of Soil Science: the Soil as a Natural Resource, 4th edn: Blackwell Scientific Publications 2006

There are no compulsory texts for this unit. 

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.