Course Title: The Soil Environment

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: The Soil Environment

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Please note that this course may have compulsory in-person attendance requirements for some teaching activities. 

To participate in any RMIT course in-person activities or assessment, you will need to comply with RMIT vaccination requirements which are applicable during the duration of the course. This RMIT requirement includes being vaccinated against COVID-19 or holding a valid medical exemption. 

Please read this RMIT Enrolment Procedure as it has important information regarding COVID vaccination and your study at RMIT:

Please read the Student website for additional requirements of in-person attendance: 

Please check your Canvas course shell closer to when the course starts to see if this course requires mandatory in-person attendance. The delivery method of the course might have to change quickly in response to changes in the local state/national directive regarding in-person course attendance. 


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

Course Coordinator: Dr Samantha Grover

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1982

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 3.02.09

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

The chemistry of soils is covered in CHEM1085 Environmental Analytical and Soil Chemistry. It is recommended as a complementary course to ENVI1012 The Soil Environment.

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

Course Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course you will be able to

CLO 1 Explain how soils form and identify the components of soils

CLO 2 Describe, test and classify Australian soils using the Australian Soil Classification

CLO 3 Illustrate the concepts of soil physics and apply appropriate soil physics analyses to environmental problems

CLO 4 Evaluate the concepts of soil biology and identify appropriate soil biology analyses to environmental problems

CLO 5 Recognise how management impacts upon soil and apply concepts of land capability to environmental problems

CLO 6 Justify the interconnections between soil health and critical global issues such as climate change and food security

CLO 7 Communicate convincingly about soils to a range of audiences in written and visual format

Overview of Learning Activities

This is a Blended Learning Course, combining face to face and online learning. As part of this Course, you will

  • regularly access on-line learning resources via Canvas
  • undertake independent research and private study, working through the course material each week and developing independent leaning skills
  • attend workshops in which course material will be presented and explained using a range of presentation techniques; topics will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples
  • actively participate in small group activities during workshops
  • participate in 3 field excursions to relevant locations around Melbourne
  • participate in peer-to-peer learning activities
  • develop your written communication skills by writing technical reports as part of a soil science communication assignment

Overview of Learning Resources

Resources for this course will be provided in the form of on-line materials, that you will find on Canvas on the Module pages for each week and also on the Reading List. Soil, soil sampling equipment and soil testing equipment are also critical resources to support your learning in this course and they will predominantly be provided in the field trips. You will be invited to source local soil samples for independent learning activities, within the constraints of your local environment and government regulations.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment Tasks

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

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

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

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