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    School of GeoSciences Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Agriculture

    Environmental Sciences

    Geology

  • Start Date

    September

  • Course Duration

    1 year full-time or 2-3 years part-time

  • Course Type

    MSc

  • Course Fees

    Tuition fees vary between degree programmes. Find the specific fees for your chosen programme on our website.

  • Last Updated

    07 November 2018

Programme description

This programme aims to introduce students to the concepts of soil for the 21st century and is suitable for students wishing to pursue a career in land-based management or environmental protection.

Soils underpin the sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems and are key to food production. Soils form the basis of all agricultural production, but they also store water, mediate the impact of pollutants, provide biological habitats, have an impact on the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, are involved in dealing with society’s waste, are a source of extractable minerals and provide the foundations for the housing and roads on which society depends.

You will learn about soil function and management, and soil classification, assessment and analysis, with a strong emphasis on practical skills. You will gain expertise in the relationship between soil and sustainable approaches to land resource use.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Programme structure

This programme involves two semesters of compulsory and option taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Soils Science Concepts and Application
  • Professional Research Skills in Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of optional courses^. We particularly recommend:

  • Analysing the Environment
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour
  • Culture, Ethics & Environment
  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • International Development in a Changing World
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Project Appraisal
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Spatial Modelling
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems

Courses are subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trip

An integral, week-long study tour lets you refresh skills learned on the programme and develop new tools and techniques, useful during the dissertation process. The tour has historically been held in Mende, France. In addition to the formal taught component, students had the opportunity to go rafting and visit the Aven Armand caves. This year the your will likely be to Morocco.

There may also be a short tour during induction week, to give students a chance to get to know each other.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • gain a knowledge and understanding of the relationship between soils and sustainable land management
  • gain an understanding of soil sampling and analysis, interpretation and reporting
  • be able to assess soil management issues and develop improved management plans
  • understand the function of soils in relation to sustainable land use and societal needs

Career opportunities

A recent report by the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) identified soil science as an area in which there are critical skills shortages, meaning graduates will be in high demand.

Soil scientists are employed in a broad range of vocations including environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, environmental impact assessment and analysis, site reclamation and remediation, and conservation as well as advising on government policy, archaeological excavations and laboratory analyses, forensics, and landscape design.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.


Visit the Soils and Sustainability (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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