Soil Science and Soil Pollution


  1. Soil formation, development and dynamics.
  2. Soil functions as a chemical and biological reactor. Soil proprieties as a reservoir, filter and buffer. Soil role as an interface to the different ecological systems compartments.
  3. Evaluation of the quality of land resources in Portugal. Comparison with other EU countries..
  4. Soil pollution and soil remediation in the context of the Environmental engineering. How to deal with contaminated soils. Case studies concerning soil pollution problems and available remediation techniques.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Alexandra de Jesus Branco Ribeiro


Weekly - 5

Total - 87

Teaching language



Available soon


  1. Brady, N. C. & Weil, R. R. (2008). The Nature and Properties of Soil. 14th edition. Pearson-Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 990 pp., ISBN 13-978-0-13-227938-3
  2. Certini, G. & Scalenghe, R. (Eds.) (2006). Soils. Basic Concepts and Future Challenges. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, ISBN 9780521851732, 310 pp.
  3. Ellis, S. & Mellor, A. (1995). Soils and Environment. Routledge, London, 368 pp., ISBN 0-415-06887-8
  4. IUSS Working Group WRB (2015). World Reference Base for Soil Resources 2014, update 2015 International soil classification system for naming soils and creating legends for soil maps. World Soil Resources Reports No. 106. FAO, Rome, 192 pp.
  5. Rodríguez-Eugenio, N., McLaughlin, M., Pennock, D. (2018). Soil Pollution: A hidden reality. FAO, Rome. 142 pp.

Teaching method

Lectures are carried out in rooms equiped with data-show.

Lecturing of problem-solving sessions are carried out in rooms equiped with data-show and laboratory sessions in the Laboratory 231.

The pedagogic material is available for the students in the Discipline Sheet created in the Moodle, which also allows students to follow the Course through the whole semester, e.g. in what concerns the work carried out in small working groups.

Evaluation method

1 – EVALUATION 1.1 – The admission to the final exam is conditioned by a) absences must be below  equal to 1/3 of the total number of classes. b) Delivering and oral presentation and a team report. Each team must be constituted by 3 students. This report represents 30% of the final grade, and 9,5 is the minimal for acceptance of the referred report. Compliance with a) and b) is compulsory for final exam admission. 1.2 – LECTURES EVALUATION represents 70% of the final grade. Students have a continuous evaluation (1.2.1)  of  2 tests through the semester. The final grade is calculated as a weighted average. 1.2.2 – Evaluation through final exam:The conditions for final exam evaluation are the fulfilment of the admission condition (number of presences and final report) and students who failed the continuous evaluation. The students who want to increase the final grade are also admitted to the final exam 1.3 – Team report: The report, with 5 pages maximum, must comply with the format made available to every student through the Moodle. Each team will perform an oral presentation of their report, which must not exceed 15 minutes.

Subject matter

1 - General view of soil formation and constitution. Profile. Horizons; 2 - Mineral matter; 3 - Organic matter; 4 - Some physical properties of soil: texture, colour, structure, real and apparent densities, porosity, 5 - Adsorption and ion exchange; 6 - Dispersion and flocculation of colloids; 7 - Acidity and alkalinity. Their determination. Buffering capacity. Distribution in Portugal. Importance; 8 - Soil water; 9 - Classification and characterization of soils in Portugal; 10 - Soil functions and uses; 11 - European Strategy for Soil Protection. Forms of degradation. DPSIR framework; 12 - Accelerated erosion and desertification. Soil conservation; 13 - Agricultural activity and soil contamination; 14 - Heavy metals and organic micropollutants. Behaviour in soil; 15 - Assessment and recovery of contaminated areas. Remediation techniques. Case studies and their application.