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ACE8043 : Soil & Land Resources - Assessment and Management

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Julia Cooper
  • Lecturer: Dr Janet Simkin, Dr Simon Peacock
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To provide an introduction to the assessment and management of land resources as affected by a range of variables to influence land use, wildlife habitat potential and agricultural systems. The module will review key soil properties and processes important for habitat, land use capability and soil quality assessment and will examine how environmental factors affect soil variability and its characteristics as a substrate to support plants and animals. The skills required for the assessment of: land use capability; habitat potential; risks of surface and groundwater pollution; and soil quality and ecosystem services will be developed.
The module is relevant to students with interests in wildlife conservation and biodiversity, agricultural and environmental management, ecosystem analysis and management, and environmental resource assessment and consultancy.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Concepts of environmental assessment; soil forming factors and soil classification
2. Soil physical properties; Soil drainage and water
3. Soil chemical & biological properties; soil organic matter dynamics; nutrient cycles
4. Managing nutrients in agricultural and natural ecosystems; introduction to case studies
5. Soil survey and land evaluation; using information about land resources
6. Case Study: one from Assessing the sustainability of farm rotations; Determining risk of diffuse pollution; Habitat suitability assessment

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion136:0036:00Case Study preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion231:0023:00Independent study
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Oral Presentation preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion123:0023:00Reflective Log preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical14:004:00Practical 3 on soil chemistry
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00Practicals 1 and 2 & Computer class 1 and 2
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading12:002:00Seminar 1 preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Seminar 2 - Introduction to Case Study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Seminar 1 on soil quality and Seminar 4 Case Study preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching14:004:00Seminar 3 soil quality group presentations
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork25:0010:00Field trip 2 and Field trip 4
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00Field trip 1 and Field trip 3
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity219:3039:00Private study lecture follow up and practical class follow up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The course will be delivered using a variety of approaches.
Traditional lectures will be used for direct delivery of information, providing knowledge and improved understanding of relevant topics. They also provide the opportunity for interaction with the lecturer, who will clarify points of importance. In addition, spontaneous or planned discussions may occur to provide further insight into lecture topics. This is consolidated in workshops and field classes, which also allow illustration and practice of methodologies and a general consideration of implications.
Assigned readings will be used to provide more in-depth analysis of the information provided in the lectures. Self-directed learning will be encouraged as students work independently and are directed to reflect on the learning achieved in each topic area. The use of self-directed learning will allow the students to digest and assimilate the information they have been provided in the lectures, and also create the opportunity for students to further explore areas of interest independently.
The case study allows use of various sources of environmental information on land, soil and water resources to assess land suitability for agriculture, options for soil mismanagement approaches and/or wildlife habitat conservation/restoration, and/or to assess risks to the environment.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation301M25Group presentation (4 per group): 30 mins total time for presentation. Based on surveys of soils quality conducted Field trip 3
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log1M25Reflective log on learning during the module: 1500 words
Case study1M50Case Study report on 1 of 3 topics: nutrient man; diffuse water pollution from agriculture, habitat assessment: 2000 - 2500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module covers a broad topic area (land resource assessment and management) which takes place within a complex overall, integrated management system, consequently the assessed case study is an appropriate way of assessing the students’ integration of knowledge and understanding acquired over the programme of lectures, seminars and practical and field classes and group learning exercises. It provides a realistic problem solving scenario that needs to be completed under time constraint as in practical, commercial and research situations.

The use of reflective logs for each topic area covered as an assessment tool is an appropriate way to assess the acquisition and application of knowledge; such an assessment approach is designed to assist, enhance and promote the students learning experience in an integrative/holistic rather than compartmentalised manner.

Reading Lists