Soil is the interface between the living and the non-living, providing humans with 99.7 per cent* of all food consumed worldwide.

Globally, we’re dependent on the provision of ecosystem goods and services mediated by soils, estimated to be worth $US11 trillion per year. But soil systems are experiencing unprecedented pressure due to an increasing world population and a concurrent decrease in available productive land. In the coming decades, soil scientists will play an increasingly important role in helping to address these persistent and inter-connected global issues.

Soil science examines the thin, outermost layer of the Earth’s crust, integrating the disciplines of physics, biology, chemistry, ecology and statistics.

Soil is the Earth’s most complex system, with one gram of soil harbouring up to 1 billion bacterial cells with up to 50,000 different species. It provides a range of services and functions, including food production, processing and recycling of nutrients, water purification, habitat for soil organisms, foundation for infrastructure, and modification of the atmosphere.

You'll learn about all of these complexities on our soil science courses, which cover varied subjects such as the chemical, physical, and biological properties of soil, the importance of maintaining and enhancing soil fertility, and how these soil properties relate to land use and management decisions.

*Food and Agriculture Organization

Why choose soil science at UQ?

Our academic and research staff are world leaders in their fields, with expertise in sustainable management of agricultural systems, rehabilitation of degraded soils (due to mining and industrial activity), land application of solid and liquid waste, and natural resource management.

You’ll benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and tackling soil science issues, as well as practical, hands-on experience in the laboratory, glasshouse and field. Industry placements and an international study tour to Indonesia offer further chances to apply your knowledge and skills in real-world situations.

Soil scientists apply their knowledge in a variety of fields within government and industry.

You can expect to find work in:

  • agricultural production
  • environmental management in the mining industry
  • soil conservation and natural resource management
  • water catchment management
  • remediation of contaminated sites
  • research science in the public or private sectors.

What our graduates say

prapa taranet

"In my work in Thailand, I have to undertake research on land development and also pass on my knowledge and skills to farmers and people in the agricultural sector. Besides providing knowledge, UQ staff encouraged me to obtain academic experience by always pushing me to be more professional in my work and research. UQ is in the top academic rankings of world universities, which brings huge opportunities - UQ produces great scientists."

Prapa Taranet (PhD in soil science), agronomist with Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture

Read more student success stories on UQ's Careers that started in science website.

Undergraduate programs

Single degrees

Honours degrees

Dual degrees

Find out more

Visit the Faculty of Science Study Planner website for more details about UQ science programs.

Postgraduate coursework

You can study:

Visit the Faculty of Science Study Planner website for more details about UQ science programs.

Higher degree by research

We offer:

Find out more about our HDR programs.