JORD310 Soil Pollution and Sustainability

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Åsgeir Rossebø Almås

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk, norsk

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:Total workload: 250 hours. Lectures + group work + discussion of the group work: 50 hours. Individual contribution: 200 hours (preparation, additional work with the group work, presentation and discussion preparation, preparation of essays).

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel.

About this course

To safeguard the soil function also for future generations, sustainable use must be in focus. This is because soil is central for many ecosystem services on which society depends, and therefore one of the most important natural resources we as humans manage. This managerial responsibility involves knowledge of how human activity affects soil as an ecosystem and the course therefore covers the following relevant topics: Metals: sources, modeling of speciation in soil, dispersal, bioavailability, effects on plants and microorganisms, tolerance limits, remediation. Organic chemicals: behavior of organic chemicals in the environment with a focus on risk, degradation, and soil/water remediation. Climate change and terrestrial carbon: focus on climatic and terrestrial factors that control photosynthesis and the importance of respiration for carbon in soil. Transport of contaminants: identification and modeling of different pathways in the watershed, best management options to reduce environmental pollution. Soil acidification and greenhouse gas emissions: due to increased deposition of nitrogen and sulfur Each topic: 10 hours (4 hours lecture, 4 hours work in groups under supervision, 2 hours presentation and discussion of scientific publications).

Learning outcome

After passing the exam, the student possesses following knowledge and skills:


The student should be able to apply knowledge of soil as an ecosystem, with special emphasis on the system's robustness and resilience to analyze how terrestrial ecosystems respond to anthropogenic influences such as pollution (organic compounds and trace metals), nutrients (NPK), land use- and climate change. The student should be able to synthesize such knowledge to assess the effect of anthropogenic impacts on soil health and several of the UN's sustainability goals.


Through lectures, group work with subsequent oral presentations and submission of popular science work in the form of an essay, the student should be able to process and analyze scientific data and publications to assess and communicate scientific contexts.

  • The topic focuses on five themes (organic pollution; inorganic pollution (trace metals); phosphorus pollution, nitrogen, soil acidification and greenhouse gasses; soil carbon and climate change) is interdisciplinary and requires collection and use of knowledge from different sources. The lectures are used for communication of facts and dialogue to promote a good link to previous topics, but they are also important for giving the topic a uniform profile. The group work is used for in-depth studies of the topic. The results of the group work is presented for discussion in class. Each group also presents a scientific paper for each of the five topics. The same paper will be used as a basis for an individual popular scientific essays (max. 500 words) essay.
  • MILJØ200.
  • Total assessment:

    • Oral final exam counts for 60%.
    • Portfolio assessment (40%) consisting of submitted 5 essays of which the student chooses 3 for portfolio evaluation (30%), oral participation and presentation of scientific work during the semester counts 10%.

    Both parts must be passed to pass the course. Grading skale: A-E / Not passed.

  • The external examiner will be involved in the planning, execution and revision (evaluation) of the course. The external examiner participates in the final (oral) examination.
  • Compulsory attendance at the first lecture. Registration in groups just after start-up and participation in group work throughout the semester.
  • Lectures: 20 hours. Group work with guidance: 20 hours. Presentation and discussion of scientific papers: 10 hours.
  • Special requirements in Science