Department of Soil and Physical Sciences

Study with global leaders in researching the interactions between soils and our environment.

Our department has a global reputation for research excellence. Our students learn through research-led and innovative teaching methods; plus practical, hands on experiences.

Key themes for the department

  • Agricultural greenhouse gas science
  • Measurement, mitigation and modelling 
  • Antarctic soils
  • Environmental biogeochemistry
  • Nitrate leaching and mitigation
  • Remediation of contaminated soils
  • Rhizosphere process science
  • Soil and environmental physics
  • Soil biology, biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Soil fertility and nutrient management
  • Soil geomorphology, soils and water
  • Quaternary geology and soil-landscape modelling
  • Soil micromorphology
  • Soil nutrient cycling and management
  • Stable isotopes in environmental science
  • Sustainable land management
  • Trace elements in soils.

Study programmes

Key undergraduate degree programmes within this department include the Bachelor of Agriculture, Bachelor of Agricultural ScienceBachelor of Science (Environmental Science) and Bachelor of Science (Individual major).

Our degree programmes focus on understanding the interaction between soils, water and the environment. This gives you highly sought-after, sector-relevant skills and prepares you to play a key role in sustainable land use and production systems, as well as resource management.

We also offer study at Honours, Masters and PhD level.

The knowledge you gain will make you well-placed to tackle national and global challenges, ranging from ensuring sustainable primary production in New Zealand, to understanding the major issues that face our planet. Global issues include impacts of climate change, intensive land and water use driven by rapidly growing populations and industrialisation of developing countries.

With their specialised knowledge, our graduates secure valuable jobs in the primary production and environmental sectors with private agricultural enterprises, local and regional government (resource management), climate change advocacy, environmental consulting organisations, irrigation specialists, Crown Research Institutes.

Research centres


Dr Carol Smith - Head of Department

Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences

+64 3 423 0791