Soil Science


A major in soil science encompasses how soil, one of our greatest natural resources, is formed, and looks at its role in the environment, land conservation, and rehabilitation issues.

Soil science is a multidisciplinary major, combining aspects of physics, chemistry, biology and the integrative themes of pedology (the science of natural soils) and geomorphology (the study of the physical features of the Earth's surface).

With a soil science major under your belt, you can find work in a wide range of occupations in public and private enterprises, working in basic and applied research in land and soil management.

For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.

Major outline

Although there are no first year units in soil science, you must study first year maths or physics, and chemistry or geology. Most students also choose to study first year physics, geology, geography or computer science.

You will learn about the principles and practices of soil science, about natural soils, soil physics and soil chemistry. The units will include practical experience in soil survey procedures, soil description and classification, quantitative soil mapping, soil degradation, soil quality and function evaluation, and aspects of soil management.

To complete your soil science major, you must take at least 24 credit points of senior soil science units. Third year studies in soil science involve field and laboratory work to measure important soil physical properties, a field trip to investigate soil types of NSW and laboratory work to measure important soil chemical properties. Lectures explore soil analytical methods, soil formation processes and detailed aspects of the physical and chemical behaviour of soil.

Soil Properties and Processes
Introductory Hydrology
Environmental GIS
Land and Water Ecochemistry
Soil Biology

Graduate opportunities

Soil scientists are employed in a wide range of occupations in the public and private sector, working in basic and applied research in land and soil management.

Students who have graduated with a soil science major are employed in state departments of agriculture, the CSIRO, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, Sydney Water, the Department of Planning, chemical companies, land care groups, and in the private sector in environmental consultancies.

Further study for major

If you're thinking of furthering your exploration of soil science, an honours program in soil science is available for eligible students. In the soil science honours program, you take a combination of coursework units, and a 24 credit point independent research project on a specialised area of soil science. It's a great way to explore your research potential if you're considering moving on to a PhD. Honours projects are available in the areas of soil chemistry, soil contamination, phytoremediation, soil biochar, pedology, soil physics, precision agriculture and digital soil mapping.

There are also postgraduate coursework programs which offer a more structured mode of soil science study. You might wish to consider the Master of Science in Environmental Science, the Master of Sustainability, or the Master of Agriculture, among others.

Related subject areas

Agricultural Chemistry
Environmental Studies
Plant Sciences
Soil Science

Our courses that offer this major