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The University of Edinburgh: Soils and Sustainability

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of GeoSciences
Study type Taught


Soil systems are a vital, non-renewable resource.

They provide multiple ecosystem services and are an essential component of food production and food security globally.

In addition, soils act as both a net sink and net source of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Therefore, soils play a crucial role in climate change regulation, which has gained increasing international attention in recent years due to the global climate crisis.

Our Soils and Sustainability MSc is an interdisciplinary programme, providing you with the essential knowledge and advanced skills to make informed decisions on sustainable land practice.

The programme encompasses the fundamentals of soil science and soil's role in wider environmental systems and sustainable land management. In addition, you will learn monitoring techniques to evaluate soils' role and effective management in various environmental landscapes and socioeconomic contexts.

What will I learn? The MSc will prepare you for a range of careers in land-based management and environmental protection.

You will explore:

  • Soil formation, functions and ecosystem services

  • Role of soils in mitigating climate change

  • Soil health and causes of degradation

  • Management strategies to promote and conserve soil health and sustainable soil systems

  • Practical skills in soil analysis and surveying

You will learn to interpret data and information on soil physics, biology and chemistry for the preservation and maintenance of soil health and gain a greater understanding of soil biodiversity, ecology and ecosystem services, as well as global-scale issues and threats to soil systems.

The programme places a strong emphasis on varied teaching approaches for both theoretical understanding and practical skills, such as laboratory and field-based activities.

Is the MSc for me? If you want to explore the benefits of soils in relation to:

  • food security

  • climate change

  • biodiversity

  • human health and well-being

Then this is the programme for you.

Our programme is designed to expand your knowledge and awareness of global soil issues and solutions. While expanding your soil surveying skills, you will consider the benefits of soil management to enhance soil services and meet several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Scotland's Rural College This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

You will benefit from being a fully enrolled student at the University of Edinburgh, as well as access to all of the complementary staff, expertise, and resources at SRUC. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by the University of Edinburgh.

Accreditation This programme is not formally accredited. However, it has strong links with the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) who support one of the programme awards. It is recommended that all students join the Society as a student member and make use of their training and networking opportunities.


Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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