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: Coming to campus - COVID protocols for students.

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 2015


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Dr Samantha Grover

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1982

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 3.02.09

Course Coordinator Availability: Drop in session most Thursdays in semester 9:30-10:30am

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

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

You should have satisfactorily completed ENVI1142, ENVI1146, CHEM1014, CHEM1015, ENVI1008, 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. For further information go to Recognition of prior learning (RPL) in Higher Education.

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 and laboratory testing with Australian soils will develop your technical skills. Formative assessment will support your knowledge development over the semester and industry-relevant Summative assessment will develop your communication and team work expertise.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

On successful completion of this course you will be able to

CLO 1 understand how soils form and recognise and describe Australian soils

CLO 2 understand the physics and biology of soil systems

CLO 3 recognise how management can affect soil and be able to apply concepts of land capability to environmental problems

CLO 4 describe the interconnections between soil health and critical global issues such as climate change and food security

CLO 5 communicate convincingly about soils to a range of audiences in written and oral format

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

Overview of Learning Activities

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

  • regularly access the extensive range of 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 lectorials in which syllabus 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 lectorials
  • participate in 3 field excursions to relevant locations around Melbourne;
  • participate in peer-assisted learning activities, including constructively reviewing written and oral work
  • develop your written communication skills by writing, reviewing and drafting a written assignment
  • develop your oral communication skills by presenting to the class

Teacher guided hours 42, Learner directed hours 72

Overview of Learning Resources

Resources for this course will be provided in the form of on-line materials and relevant reference sources which will be listed in lecture materials and discussed in lectures.  A number of texts and scientific journal articles will also be used as recommended reading materials.

Overview of Assessment

In this course you will complete:

  • Formative Assessment: a series of 5 quizzes and a group presentation (50%; CLO 1,2,3,5) Weeks 3-11
  • Summative Assessment: A 3 part written exercise comprising a Field Log, a draft written assessment and peer review thereof and a final written assessment (50%; CLO 3,4,5) Weeks 7-12

The Formative Assessment quizzes will provide you with structured revision and a staged assessment of your understanding of the course content. Opportunity for feedback and revision will be provided after each quiz, in order to strengthen your learning. The Formative Group Presentation will enable you to engage in active and peer to peer learning, developing your independent research, team work, facilitation and oral communication skills.

The Summative Assessment written exercises will provide you with the opportunity to practise detailed observation and recording of soils in the field and laboratory, reflection on the implications of these observations, and convincing communication of scientific concepts to a range of audiences. You will engage in peer to peer learning, giving and receiving constructive criticism on a draft of your work and revising to produce a polished final product for possible public distribution.