NBIK14007U Soil Biology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Agriculture
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Environmental Science


Lectures, demonstrations, student presentations, discussion classes, project work with focus on:

1) Soil organisms: The unsurpassed diversity of soil organisms, bacteria; fungi, incl. mycorrhiza; predatory soil micro-eukaryotes: protozoa and nematodes; mites; insects; millipedes; centipedes; isopods; enchytraeids; earthworms

2) Soil Ecology: Soil organisms as drivers of global processes; from soil particles and aggregates to landscape level; life in water films and soil pores; aboveground-belowground interactions via the plant; plant nutrient acquisition; root exudates; herbivores.

3) How to communicate science


Learning Outcome

To provide an understanding of how the soil organisms in their complex environment regulate and drive global processes. This includes an understanding of 1) the huge diversity of soil organisms, 2) the factors governing this diversity, 3) the importance of organism interactions for the soil processes and 4) how interactions between organisms are essential for soil services. Moreover, we focus on science communication.


Students will obtain knowledge and understanding of:

  • The physicochemical properties of soils and how they form the basis for the soil organisms
  • The important organism groups and their interaction with each other and with plants
  • The impact of soil organisms on important processes in soil (e.g. decomposition, nitrogen transformations and plant growth)
  • Methods and techniques in soil ecology
  • The importance of soil biology in society and science
  • Means of communicating with scientists and the public


Students should become able to:

  • Describe and identify different important soil organisms (microfauna, mesofauna, macrofauna) to relevant taxonomic level
  • Analyse how soils develop in different ecosystems and how this affects soil organisms.
  • Work experimentally with soil and its organisms (this includes formulation of hypotheses, planning and performing experiments, analysis and statistical testing of the data)
  • Communicate the results verbally and written


Students should become able to:

  • Evaluate how human activities affect the soil environment
  • Understand the services soils provide to environment and to human society
  • Analyse, put into perspective, and evaluate original research papers
  • Design, perform and critically analyse basic experiments addressing ecological and biological issues
  • Perform relevant written and oral presentation of acquired knowledge and ideas with respect to the receiver.

See Absalon.

Introductory course in ecology and microbiology.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The weeks, 1-7 include lectures, discussion classes, student presentations and an experimental project.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 12
  • Class Instruction
  • 14
  • Preparation
  • 123,5
  • Theory exercises
  • 14
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Project work
  • 30
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 2,5
  • Total
  • 206,0
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback is integrated in the course at the student presentations of a chosen subject and of their project presentations during classes. Furthermore, the project form ensures running feedback during the whole course period.  

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 2 hours (multiple choice) under invigilation
Oral examination, 20 minutes, no preparation time
Type of assessment details
Continuous assessment based on student class presentations during the course.

The written examination is a general test in learning outcome. The exam is in week 8 and is arranged by the Department (not ITX).

Final oral group examination, 20 minutes per group. The oral examination is based on the written assignment on the practical experimental project.

The student presentations during the course weights for 20%, the written exam weights 50% and the final oral exam weights for 30% of the final grade.

All three exams must be passed separately but they do not need to be passed in the same exam period.
Exam registration requirements

Written assignment must be handed in.

Without aids

Written exam: without aids.

Oral exam: aids: the written assignment can be used

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Oral examination 25 minutes (individual, without aids or preparation time) based on the written assignment and in learning outcome.

If the requirement for participating in the exam is not fulfilled an assignment must be handed in no later than three weeks before the re-exam.




Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome