Discover the complex interactions between earth, water, and the environment

Study soil and water chemistry - apply your knowledge in agriculture, health, and environmental management.

  • Learn about how soils develop.
  • Understand how soil chemistry and fertility affect crop growth.
  • Understand the effect of soil pollutants on health and the environment.
  • Start studying at any time - study by distance learning.
  • Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

This course is broken into two parts: soil chemistry and water chemistry

You'll begin by refreshing your understanding of chemistry, then move on to studying vital geochemical cycles and how they affect nutrient availability, soil health, and agriculture.

In the second part of the course you'll study sampling, testing, potability, drought, and real world applications to human and environmental health. At the end of the course, you'll complete a problem-based learning project based about water chemistry and human health to help cement your learning.


Course Structure and Contents

There are 10 lessons in this course:

Lesson 1. Soil Chemistry: An Introduction

Chemistry Revision (inc. Chemical Terms, Elements, Compounds, Bonds).
Soil Redox Reactions.
Biogeochemistry and Soil Structure Review.
Biogeochemical Cycles.
Ammonium Fixation.
The Urea Cycle.
Soil Absorption/Desorption.
Lesson Aims: Describe the dominant geochemical cycles on earth. Demonstrate an understanding of basic chemistry including atoms and their components, elements, compounds and chemical reactions.


Lesson 2. Soil Chemical Processes

Introduction: How Soils Develop.
Factors of Soil Formation in More Detail.
Weathering Processes of Soil Formation.
Soil Profile Description.
Soil Classification and Description.
Classification of British Soils.
Soil Types and Plant Growth.
Properties of Soils.
Physical and Chemical Properties of Soil.
Soil Characteristics and their Relationship to Plant Growth.
Lesson Aims: Explain the important chemical reactions occurring in soil and their consequences; differentiate between different soil fractions with respect to their nature, size and chemical activity.


Lesson 3. Soil-Chemical Testing

Common Soil Tests.
Other Soil Cations.
The CEC in Soils.
Lesson Aims: Describe different soil test methods and explain how the test results are used.


Lesson 4. Soil Chemistry – Applications in Agriculture

The Components of Soil Fertility.
Lesson Aims: Explore components of soil fertility. Describe soil chemistry/fertility factors affecting crop growth in different farming environments. Explain ways of improving soil fertility for crop production. Discuss the impact of chemically altering soil vs. cycling and other natural methods.


Lesson 5. Soil Chemistry – Applications in Environmental Management

Soil Pollutants.
Soil Remediation.
Lesson Aims: Describe inorganic and organic soil pollutants. Discuss effects on health and the environment. Discuss ways to remediate soils.


Lesson 6. Water Chemistry - Introduction

Water: Chemical and Physical Properties.
Hydrological Cycle.
Water Resources.
Water Footprint.
Drought and Impact.
Lesson Aims: Outline the components of the earth’s water cycle. Describe the main chemical properties of water. Explain the various ways in which water is classified.


Lesson 7. Water – Chemistry of Water Sources and Drinking Water

Water Sources And Their Chemical Composition.
Chemistry of Seawater.
Chemistry of Groundwater.
Chemistry of Surface Water.
Chemistry of Potable Drinking Water.
Lesson Aim: Explain the chemistry of different water sources, giving examples of different properties and reactions.


Lesson 8. Water – Chemical Testing

Water PH.
Electrical Conductivity.
Total Alkalinity.
Total Hardness.
Lesson Aim: Describe different water test methods and explain how the test results are used. 


Lesson 9. Water -- Applications in Agriculture and Human Health


Lesson 10. Water Chemistry -- Applications in Agriculture, Problem-Based Learning Project


Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Duration: 100 hours



  • You can start the course at any time.
  • It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor.  The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading.

The following is a short excerpt from the course re Cation Exchange Capacity.

CATION EXCHANGE CAPACITY (CEC) (me (meq)/100 g or cmol(+)/kg)
CEC is an indication of the number of exchange sites within a soil that may temporarily hold positively charged ions. It is generally determined by the amount and type of clay and the amount of organic matter.

You can liken the soil to a magnet – it attracts cations (positively charged ions) and repels anions (negatively charged ions). This knowledge allows people working with soils to understand the nutrients held in a soil and the soil nutrient requirement (in crop growing or pasture management for example). Crop nutrient applications can then be planned an applied according to soil type.





Just go to the top of this page for pricing and enrolment options. If you have any questions you can contact us now, by:
Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Email us at [email protected]