Advanced Soil Science and Isotope Geochemistry

Course content

The course teaches state-of-the art principles and methodologies within the field of environmental soil science and geochemistry.

The course has focus on the use of advanced stable isotope analysis as tracers of geochemical and biological processes in terrestrial systems (theory of isotopic equilibrium and fractionation), and on soil physics with special emphasis on soil water retention.

The course demonstrates practical examples of soil physical and isotopic analysis to establish relations between earth systems, climate and management.

The course includes field work with soil profile description, soil sampling and laboratory work.


MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a Minor Subject

MSc Programme in Environmental Science

Learning outcome


  • Theoretical background in soil chemical and physical processes (texture, soil water retention); soil classification; abundance and characteristics of elements/compounds that undergo isotopic fractionation; application of stable isotope analysis to study soil organic compounds (SOM-reservoirs; nutrient cycling; greenhouse-gases)
  • Practical training in field methods for soil description; field methods and strategies for sampling of soil, water and air; advanced stable isotope analysis (mass spectrometry; infrared laser spectroscopy); soil water retention analysis



  • Read scientific literature related ot the course subjects
  • Apply, evaluate and analyse methods, theories and data related to the course subjects
  • Use correct scientific terms, definitions and algebra
  • Knowledge base to formulate and conduct own research using theory and methods taught
  • Communicate in written or oral form scientific results to fellow students and scientists



  • Formulate proposals to identify and solve complex geographical problems and questions related to impacts on soil environment and Earth systems
  • Conduct and carry out large scale field work, soil mapping, collect samples and data, and deploy relevant analyses.

The form of teaching is practical (field, laboratory) and theoretical exercises, combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

Please see Absalon.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent is recommended

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Teh course has substantial practical content, and feedback is given orally during the courseb based on the performance of students during the practical field- and laboratory activities.

An oral feedback is given in response to the written assignement.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Written assignment, Ongoing
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Project work
  • 35
  • Laboratory
  • 15
  • Field Work
  • 15
  • Preparation
  • 106
  • English
  • 206