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Soil Science: Exploring the World Beneath our Feet

Lancaster University via FutureLearn


Explore cutting-edge research into soil science with Lancaster University

Soils are a complex environment, teeming with life and supporting our most fundamental environmental processes.

On this four-week course, you’ll learn from groundbreaking research taking place at Lancaster University to understand the basics of soil science. You’ll also have the opportunity to get your hands dirty with practical experience in assessing soil properties and conditions.

This knowledge will help you understand why soil is so important and what we can do to protect our soils from the many threats they face.

Explore soil properties and what lives below the ground

There are more living things in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on the planet.

This course will help you discover the variety of life in the soil, including invertebrates, microbes, and fungi to understand the complex system beneath our feet.

Understand the importance of soil security

With a firm grasp of what soil is, you’ll explore the relationship between soils and the rise and fall of different civilisations.

This understanding will help you delve further into the importance of soil and how we can ensure its security.

Explore soil erosion, contamination, and other threats

Finally, you’ll learn about how and why soils are under threat at both a local and global scale.

Exploring issues such as climate change, air pollution, and invasive species, you’ll understand why we need to be doing more to protect our soils. With this knowledge, you’ll be inspired to take action for soil protection.

This course is designed for anyone interested in soils, biology, geography, and environmental science. No prior knowledge is required.

We are delighted the course has been popular with many different learners aged 18 – 75.


  • What is soil?
    • Welcome
    • Introduction
    • Soil texture
    • Summing up
    • Test your knowledge
  • What lives in the soil?
    • What lives in the soil?
    • The variety of soil life
    • Soil invertebrates
    • Microbes and Fungi
    • The importance of plants
    • Summary
    • Test your knowledge
  • Why is soil so important
    • Introduction
    • The rise and fall of civilisations
    • Soil security
    • Soil erosion
    • Surface sealing
    • Soil contamination
    • Summary
    • Test your knowledge
  • Soils and Global Change
    • Introduction
    • Soils and climate change
    • Soils and air pollution
    • Invasive species
    • Soils and land use change
    • Summing up
    • Test your knowledge
    • What next?

Taught by

Carly Stevens


4.7 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 247 ratings

Start your review of Soil Science: Exploring the World Beneath our Feet

  • An informative and fun course. It was thought provoking , interesting and added to my knowledge of just what soil is, including challenging and expanding my previous perception of soil. There course included a number of hands-on exercises and over…
  • Fabi
  • Millie B.

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