Degree Type: 

Master of Philosophy


Department of Soil Science

Programme Duration: 

2 years (Standard Entry)

Modes of Study: 


About Programme: 

Since the inception of the postgraduate programme in 2001 in ‘pure’ Soil Science, the department has found it increasingly difficult to attract students, which perhaps could be partly due to the low demand for ‘pure’ Soil Scientist in the job market. This problem, coupled with the threat to the health and well-being of people and global systems posed by environmental degradation and climate change, prompted the department to review its postgraduate programme. The review indicated the need to design a programme which will train graduates to tackle problems of environmental degradation in a sound way. 

Entry Requirements: 

MPhil. programme: Candidates with BSc. Degree with Second Class (Lower Division) and above from a recognized University in Biological Science, Soil Science, Agriculture, Agricultural Engineering, Environmental Science, Renewable Natural Resources and other related  Earth Sciences.

Goal / Aim / Objectives: 

(i)    To expose students to the scientific principles of pollution at chemical levels and soil management in order to enable them approach environmental issues in a realistic way.
(ii)    To equip students with the concepts and procedures of land evaluation and use soil/land data to substantiate suitability of soil/land for specific purposes.

Career Opportunities: 

Employment Prospects of Graduates:
List of sectors of the economy that could employ graduates of the programme include:
(1)    Soil Research Institute
(2)    Ministry of Food and Agriculture
(3)    Universities
(4)    Crop Research Institute
(5)    Environmental Protection Agency
(6)    Multilateral organizations and Banks
(7)    NGOs

Programme Structure

Level 800

First Semester

ASS 801: Soil Ecology and Soil Quality     
3 Credit(s)

Content:  The course is designed to cover soil as an ecosystem, microbial ecology- bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses. The course contains the rhizosphere in relation to nutrient cycling- the carbon and nitrogen cycles. It emphasizes mineral transformations in soils-microbial transformation of P, S, Fe and Mn; Mycorrhizal symbioses-Ectomycorrhiza and endomycorrhiza; nutrient and metabolite interchange between symbionts; legume-rhizobium association, symbiotic N-fixation; ecological interrelationship; microorganisms and soil quality; microbial degradation of toxic chemicals in soils; and soil organic matter and its dynamics.


  1. To equip students with the understanding of soil-plant-microbe relationships and microbial contribution to some ecological processes
  2. To introduces students to the role of microbes in maintaining soil quality through microbial degradation of toxic substances such as agrochemicals


Reading materials

  1. Alexander, M. 1971. Microbial Ecology. Wiley, New York.
  2. Alexander, M. 1976. Introduction to Soil Microbiology. 2nd Edn. John Wiley & Sons
  3. Domsch, K.H and Gams, W. 1973. Fungi in Agricultural Soils. Academic press, new York.
  4. Killham, K. 1994. Soil Ecology. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  5. Round, F.E. 1973. The Biology of the Algae. Edward Arnold, London
  6. Sykes, G & F. A. Skinner (eds.) 1973. Actinomycetes. Academic Press, New York.


ASS 803: Surface and Groundwater Hydrology   
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course is designed to cover Global hydrological cycle, rainfall-runoff relations, streamflow and hydrographs, frequency analysis of runoff data and sedimentation in reservoirs. It also provides students with groundwater flow and geologic formations, basic concepts in soil moisture and soil moisture potentials, interrelationships between groundwater and surface water, elementary theory of groundwater movement, salt water encroachment, dispersion in soil water encroachment and flow of a non-homogeneous fluid in a porous medium.


  1. To provide students with the knowledge of surface and groundwater hydrology
  2. To the knowledge to environmental sanitation and water quality.

Reading materials

  1. Goodman, A.S. 1984. Principles of Water Resources Planning. Englewood Cliffs. N.J. Prentice Hall.
  2. Hillel, D. 1980. Applications of Soil Physics. Academic Press, Inc. New York.
  3. Mather, J.R. 1984. Water Resources. John Wiley, New York.
  4. Montgomery, C.W. 1995. Environmental Geology. WMC Brown Publishers.
  5. Ward, C.H. Giger, W. and McCarty, P.L. (eds.) 1985. Groundwater Quality. John Wiley & Sons, New York.


ASS 805: Environmental Soil Chemistry 
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course is designed to equip students with an overview of soil chemistry, inorganic soil components, chemistry of soil organic matter, soil solution-solid phase equilibria, sorption phenomena on soils and ion exchange processes, kinetics of soil chemical processes, redox chemistry of soil, the chemistry of soil acidity, and the chemistry of saline and sodic soils.

Objective:To expose students to the fundamental concepts of soil chemistry so as to apply them to environmentally significant reactions in the soil.

Reading materials

  1. Brown, H.J.M. 1979. Environmental Chemistry of the Elements. Academy Press, London.
  2. Manahan, S.E. 1991. Environmental Chemistry. Lewis Publishers, Chelsea, Michigan, USA.
  3. O’Neill, P. 1993. Environmental Chemistry. 2nd Edn. Chapman & Hall London.
  4. Richardson, M.L. 1991. Chemistry, Agriculture and the Environment. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge.
  5. Sparks, D.L. 1995. Environmental Soil Chemistry. Academic Press Inc.
  6. Sposito, G. 1989. The Chemistry of Soils. Oxford Univ. Press


ASS 807:  Land Degradation and Conservation
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course exposes students to different types of land degradation, types of erosion, mechanics of erosion, theory of soil detachment, erosion and runoff models, and impact of land degradation on the environment. The course also introduces the students methods of soil erosion control, aspects of land management, studies on land conservation including economics of soil conservation and management, and biodiversity.

1.    To expose students to different types of land degradation and their causative factors.
2.    To highlight on methods of land conservation.

Reading materials
1.    El-Swaify, A., Moldenhauer, W.C. and Lo, A. (eds.) 1980. Soil Erosion and Conservation. Soil Conservation Society of America, Ankeney, Iowa.
2.    Lal, R. and Greenland, D.J. (eds.) 1979. Soil Physical Properties and Crop Production in the Tropics. John Wiley & Sons, England.
3.    Morgan, R.P.C. (ed) 1981. Soil Conservation problems and Prospects. John Wiley & Sons, England.
4.    Schwab, G.O. Frevert, R.K., Edminster, T.W. and Barnes, K.K. 1981. Soil and water Conservation Engineering. 3rd Edn. John Wiley & Sons Inc. New York 

ASS 809: Statistical Methods and Experimental Design
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course is designed to cover elements of experimentation, principles of experimental designs, sample experimental design, some problems in experimentation and possible remedies, one sample and two-sample hypothesis, linear and non-linear models, complex relationships, analysis of covariance, probability and distribution estimation and hypothesis testing and practicals multivariate analysis.


  1. To expose the students to statistical concepts and methods.
  2. To equip students to be able to use appropriate computer programmes to design experiments and analyse data.

Reading materials

  1. Lindeman, H.R. 1974. Analysis of variance in Complex Experimental Designs. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco.
  2. Mead, R., Curnow, N and Hasted, A. M. 1994. Statistical Methods in Agriculture and Experimental Biology, 2nd Edn. Chapman and Hall.
  3. Snedecor and Cochran, W.G. 1989. Statistical Methods. 8th Edn. Iowa State Univ. Press. Iowa, USA.
  4. Steel, R.G.D and Torrie, J.H. 1980. Principles and Procedures of Statistics. A Biometrical Approach. 2nd Edn. McGraw Hill International Edns.
  5. Webster, R. and Oliver, M.A. 1990. Statistical Methods in Soil and Land Resource Survey. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK

ASS 811: Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course exposes students to radiation and temperatures in the tropics, general circulation of the tropical atmosphere, water and energy balance, rainfall seasonability and variability in the tropics, evaporation and evapotranspiration in the tropical ecosystem, tropical disturbances, turbulent transfer and wind relationships, tropical climates and energy production. The course also equips students to evaluate the impact of climate change on agriculture, environment, man and hydrological cycle.

Objective: To evaluate the impact of climate change on agricultural production

Reading materials

  1. Enger, E.D. and Smith, B.F. 1991. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. 4th Edn. W.C. Brown Publishers
  2. Jackson, I.J. 1977. Climate, Water and Agriculture in the Tropics. Longman group Ltd., London.
  3. Manteith, J.L. 1975. Principles of Environmental Physics. Whitstable Litho Ltd., Whistable, Kent
  4. Nieuwolt, S. 1978. Tropical Climatology. An Introduction to the Climates of the Low Latitudes. John Wiley and Sons. Chichester, England.


ASS 813: Soil, Plant and Water Analysis     
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course introduces students to soil/plant sampling procedure, sample preparation, soil concentration units and their conversions. It also exposes students to laboratory instruments for soil, water and plant analysis, their accuracy and sources of error. The course equips students with laboratory analysis of:

  1. Soil physical properties – Soil moisture content, field capacity and available water, wilting points, particle size distribution, bulk and particle densities, and aggregate stability.
  2. Soil chemical properties- Soil pH, organic carbon, nitrogen (total, organic & inorganic), available nitrogen forms (NH4+ & NO3-), total and available P, total and available K, CEC and exchangeable cations, exchange acidity, soil micronutrients (total and available forms) and redox potential
  3. Plant sample- Moisture content, total phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium in plant ash, total nitrogen and other nutrients in wet digest, and micronutrients.
  4. Water sample – soluble salts, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, CO32- and electrical conductivity


  1. The course seeks to give students understanding of principles in soil, water and plant analysis, interpretation and application of analytical results for soil and water management practices.
  2. It also aims at giving students understanding of the use of common laboratory analytical     

Reading materials

  1. Anderson, J.M. and Ingram, S.I. 1993 Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility. A Handbook of Methods. CAB.
  2. Klute, A. (Ed.) 1986. Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 1, Physical and Mineralogical Methods. 2nd Edn. Agronomy.
  3. Page, A.L., Miller, R.H. and Keeney, D.R. (Eds.) 1982. Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 2. Chemical and Microbiological Properties. 2nd Edn. Agronomy
  4. Tandon, H.L.S. 1995. Methods of Analysis of Soils, Plants, Water and Fertilizer. Fertilizer Dev. and Consultation Organization. New Delhi, India.

ASS 827: Geospatial Techniques     
3 Credit(s)

Content:The main focus of this course is to equip students with ideas to use computers in managing spatial data generated from geographic phenomena. Topics include: geographic data types; spatial data models; databases, data integration, structures for organizing geographic data in GIS; and, coordinates and projections; principles and concepts in remote sensing, image classification and interpretations, satellite platforms etc. Emphasis is on proper coding procedures, identification of variables, entry of data and results, and interpretation of outcomes. There would be laboratory sessions to allow students gain hands-on experience with the application of GIS.

Objective:To equip students with the knowledge and skills in using computers in managing spatial data that has been generated from geographic phenomena.

Reading materials

1. Dewan, Ashraf M.  (2013). Floods in a megacity: geospatial techniques in assessing hazards, risk and vulnerability. New York, NY:  Springer.

2. Singh P., Thakur J. K., Kumar S., & Singh U. C. (2011) Assessment of Land Use/Land Cover Using Geospatial Techniques in a Semi-arid Region of Madhya Pradesh, India. In: J. K. Thakur, S. K. Singh, A. Ramanathan, M. B. K. Prasad, W. Gossel (eds), Geospatial Techniques for Managing Environmental Resources. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

3. Showalter, P.S. & Lu, Y. (Eds.) (2009). Geospatial Techniques in Urban Hazard and Disaster Analysis. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.


Second Semester

ASS 802: Integrated Soil Fertility Management    
3 Credit(s)

 Content: The course exposes students to concepts of soil fertility, mechanisms of plant nutrient absorption, plant nutrient uptake properties, soil fertility amendments, fertilizer technology and use, and fertilizer interactions in soils. It also provides the students with the concepts in soil fertility evaluation, soil test methodology, and fertilizer recommendations. Physical, chemical and biological approaches for integrated soil fertility management are also presented, and the strategies for implementation are discussed.

The course entails processes of soil formation (factors-processes-properties), nature of soil variation and factors affecting soil variation, Scales and types of soil variation-systematic and random variation. The course also exposes students to sampling designs for quantifying map unit variations, types of land resources field studies, predicting variability of soils from landscape models-the catena concept, slope curvature landscape morphology and soil anisotropy.

Objective: To introduce the students to the concepts of soil fertility management and the fertilizer interactions in soils

Reading materials

  1. Bridges, E.M. and Davidson, D.A. 1982. Principles and applications of Soil Geography. Longman Press
  2. Buol, S.W., Hole, F.D. and McCracken, R.J. 1989. Soil Genesis and Classification. 3rd Edn. Wiley, New York
  3. Ripley, B.D. 1981. Spatial Statistics. Wiley, New York
  4. Wilding, L.P. and Drees, L.R. 1978. Spatial Variability: A Pedologists Viewpoint. In: Diversity of Soils in the Tropic. Soil Science Society of America Special Pub. 34

ASS 804:  Soil Heterogeneity and Environmental Impact Assessment   
3 Credit(s)


  1. To understand the nature of soil variation and to quantify the soil variation.
  2. To design soil management systems in accordance with soil variation.

ASS 806:  Principles of Environmental Pollution    
3 Credit(s)

1. To expose students to the scientific principles of pollution to the environment
2. To equip students to approach environmental issues in a rational manner. 

The course exposes students to understand pollution in the world, population pressures and wastes, Solid wastes and their disposal, indoor pollution, types of pollutants, transport behaviour of pollutants in environment. The course also introduces the students to types of pollution-Water pollution, land pollution, air pollution; toxicity and risk assessment of environmental pollutants, pollution prevention concepts and principles, global environmental problems- Global warming, greenhouse effect and global climate change.

Reading materials
1.    Alloway, B.J. and Ayres, D.C. 1997. Chemical Principles of Environmental Pollution. 2nd Edn. Chapman and Hill.
2.    Clark, J.H. 1995. Hazardous Waste and Human Health. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford
3.    Harrison, R.M. 1990. Pollution Causes, Effects and Control. Royal Soc. of Chemistry, London.
4.    Holdgate, M.W. 1979. A Perspective of Environmental Pollution. Cambridge Univ. Press. Cambridge.
5.    Sparks, D.L. 1993. Soil Decontamination. In: Handbook of Hazardous Materials (M. Corn, ed) Academic Press. San Diego, CA.
6.    Yong, R.N., Mohammed, A.M.O. and Warkertin, B.P. 1992. Principles Contaminant Transport in Soils Dev. Geotech Eng. 73, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

ASS 810: Soil and Land Use Evaluation               
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course exposes students to definition of land evaluation terminologies, types of land evaluation and review of soil properties of importance to agriculture. The course introduces students to soil survey for agricultural and non-agricultural uses, soil maps and land improvement, methodology of land evaluation for agriculture, the role of land evaluation in development planning, evaluation at the local, regional and national scales, soil suitability classification, land capability classification and land productivity rating.


At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the concepts and procedures of land evaluation
  2. Employ data to substantiate suitability of soil and land for specific purposes.

 Reading materials

  1. Dent, D. and Young, A. 1981. Soil Survey and Land Evaluation. Allen and Unwin, London.
  2. FAO. 1988. FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World. Revised Legend. World Soil Resources Report 60. FAO, Rome.
  3. Webster, R. and Oliver, M.A. 1990. Statistical Methods in Soil and Land Resource Survey. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK
  4. Young, A. 1976. Tropical Soil Survey. Cambridge Univ. Press.

ASS 812: Soil-Plant-Water-Atmosphere Relationships 
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course introduces students to soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, basic aspect of plant-water relations, water relations to plant cell and tissues, structure, function and hydraulic properties of roots, water potential and flux in the soil, plant system, root water uptake, soil water movement and transpiration, modelling water uptake by roots, plant water use efficiency, net radiation to plant canopies, estimation of total evaporation and estimation of leaf temperature.

Objective:To introduce students to the interrelationships between crops, water use and the environment.

Reading materials
1.    Brewer, R. 1988. The Science of Ecology. Sanders, New York.
2.    Enger, E.D. and Smith, B.F. 1991. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. 4th Edn. W.C. Brown Publishers
3.    Hillel, D. 1980. Applications of Soil Physics. Academic Press Inc. New York.

4.  Napier, T.L. et al., 1983. Water Resources Research: Problems and Potentials for Agriculture and Rural Communities

ASS 825: Research Methodology       
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course offers an overview of research methodology including basic concepts employed in quantitative and qualitative research methods. It also will expose students to photography and biological illustration, language for scientist and computer applications for research.

Objective: To introduce students to scientific literature search, report writing, on-farm research techniques and data management system.

Recommendation materials

  1. Gomez, K.A. Gomez, K.A. & Gomez, A.A. 1984. Statistical procedures for agricultural research. John Wiley & Sons
  2. Kumar, R. 2019. Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners. Sage Publication Ltd., London
  3. Sahu, P.K. 2013. Research methodology: A guide for researchers in agricultural science, social science and other related fields. Springer. New Delhi.
  4. Wall, T. & Stokes, P. 2014. Research methods. Macmillan Publishers, New York, USA.

ASS 826: Computer Programming 
3 Credit(s)

Content: The course introduces the students to the definition of a programme, definition of programming/software development, steps involved in programming; identifying the programming needs, programme design, programme coding, programme testing, programme documentation and programme maintenance, general of programming languages, other languages and internet programming.


  1. To equip students with enough computer information/languages to use as a tool for working with databases and data analysis.
  2. To provide students with enough data analysis-related hands-on-skills on the computer.

Reading materials

  1. Hutchinson, S.E. and Sawyer, S.C. 1992. Computers- the User Perspective. Iruin Incorporated, (3rd edn.)
  2. Jamsa, K. 1992. Welcome to Personal Computers. Henry Holt and Company Inc. New York

ASS 828: Remote Sensing of the Environment 
3 Credit(s)

Content :The course focuses on the technical issues that surround the acquisition and utilization of remotely sensed airborne and satellite images for the study of physical and human landscapes. Techniques for analysing and interpreting images for studying biological, geological, hydrological and oceanographic processes as well as human activities will be emphasised. A substantial proportion of the course will be studied in the field, and therefore students are expected to produce reports to cover their field exercises.

Objective: To expose students to advanced concepts in remote sensing and their application to local phenomena and development processes.

Reading materials

  1. Arnold, R. (1997). Interpretation of air photos and remotely sensed imagery. Upper Saddle River, NY: Prentice-Hill.
  2. Lillesand, T., Kiefer, R. W., & Chipman, J. (2014). Remote sensing and image interpretation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Campbell, J. B., & Wynne, R. H. (2011). Introduction to remote sensing. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  4. Schowengerdt, R. A. (2006). Remote sensing: models and methods for image processing. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.