Course Title: The Soil Environment

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: The Soil Environment

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr Fereshteh Shahriari

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required Prior Study

You should have satisfactorily completed following course/s before you commence this course.

Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge before you start this course.

Contact your course coordinator if you think you may be eligible for recognition of prior learning.

Course Description

Soils are fundamental to life. Every meal you eat, your clothes, your house: these have all come from the soil. Even the air we breathe is directly affected by soil processes. In this course, The Soil Environment, we will explore how soils support life and how we can sustainably manage the earth’s finite soil resource. Foundational knowledge of soil formation, soil physics and soil biology drawn from Soil Science Australia’s curriculum for Certified Professional Soil Scientists inform the key concepts covered in this course. We will explore how soil management interacts with critical global issues, such as climate change and food security. Field work with Australian soils will develop your technical skills and team work expertise. Assessment tasks will support your soil science knowledge development over the semester and culminate in an industry-relevant assignment that will enable you to showcase your scientific and communication expertise.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

For ENVI 1012 students this course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLO) at AQF level 7:

  • PLO 1: Understanding science. Demonstrate a coherent understanding of environmental science.
  • PLO 2: Scientific knowledge. Exhibit depth and breadth of environmental science knowledge.
  • PLO 3: Inquiry and problem solving. Critically analyse and solve problems in environmental science.
  • PLO 4: Communication. Be an effective communicator of environmental sciences.
  • PLO 5: Personal and professional responsibility. Be accountable for individual learning and scientific work in environmental science.

For ENVI 1217 students this course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLO) at AQF level 9:

  • PLO 1.2: Knowledge: Knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to studying the chemical, biological and physical processes occurring in the environment
  • PLO 2.1: Skills: Cognitive skills which demonstrate mastery of theoretical knowledge about environmental processes enabling critical reflection on environmental theory and professional practice or scholarship
  • PLO 2.4: Skills: Communication and technical research skills to enable you to justify and interpret theoretical propositions, methodologies, conclusions and professional decisions to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • PLO 3.1: Application of knowledge and skills: Apply knowledge and skills with creativity and initiative to new situations in your role as an environmental professional practitioner and/or in your further studies

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Explain how soils form and identify the components of soils
  2. Describe, test and classify Australian soils using the Australian Soil Classification
  3. Illustrate the concepts of soil physics and apply appropriate soil physics analyses to environmental problems
  4. Evaluate the concepts of soil biology and identify appropriate soil biology analyses to environmental problems
  5. Recognise how management impacts upon soil and apply concepts of land capability to environmental problems
  6. Justify the interconnections between soil health and critical global issues such as climate change and food security
  7. Communicate convincingly about soils to a range of audiences in written and visual format

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in a range of learning activities such as lectorials, tutorials, practicals, laboratories, seminars, project work, class discussion, individual and group activities. Delivery may be face to face, online or a mix of both.

You are encouraged to be proactive and self-directed in your learning, asking questions of your lecturer and/or peers and seeking out information as required, especially from the numerous sources available through the RMIT library, and through links and material specific to this course that is available through myRMIT Studies Course.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through myRMIT Studies Course.

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Test 1 Pedology
Weighting 20%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 5

Assessment Task 2: Test 2 Soil Physics
Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports CLOs 3 & 5

Assessment Task 3: Test 3 Soil Biology 
Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports CLOs 4 & 5

Assessment Task 4: Soil Science Communication Assignment
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.