Training Courses

Soil Training

The British Society of Soil Science recognises the importance of education and training quality and availability to soil science as a profession. Two key aspects of its long-term strategy are supporting and encouraging the education of soil science, and ensuring high standards of professional practice for those working with soils. To help us reach these aims we run our own training courses, under the banner of Working with Soils, and also promote courses from other providers where the content has been judged to be robust. 

We have been working with a group of employers to develop a Level 7 Soil Scientist Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) for review and it is expected that it will be delivered from mid-2024 onwards.

We can also deliver training for groups so if this is of interest, please contact for further information.

Register Your Interest For Our 2024 Courses

Working With Soils

A Practical Introduction to Soils in Great Britain

This course covers two days and includes a number of presentations, a practical session on soil description and then field visits to demonstrate a range of soils. Delegates will learn about:

  • soil formation processes and the factors that influence soil development,
  • the nature of soil profiles and key soil horizon types,
  • the structure of the national soil classification and the principal soil types in England and Wales,
  • organic matter types,
  • the practical aspects of soil description – hand texturing and the description of stones, soil colour recording, the assessment of soil structure and porosity and the assessment of soil calcium carbonate

Course Duration

2 Day course. Two scheduled course dates for 2024:

10-11 April 2024 – Shuttleworth College 

11-12 September 2024 – Harper Adams University [Register Below]

Learning outcomes

  1. A better knowledge and understanding of what soil is, how it forms and the processes and factors that drive soil development
  2. A better knowledge and understanding of how and why soils vary within the landscape including key diagnostic horizons and soil classes.
  3. Knowledge of key information sources and their interpretation for different applications
  4. The ability to describe and interpret a soil profile and/or its horizon consistently in the field including the assessment of, as a minimum, organic matter type, soil texture and stoniness, colour, structure, porosity, lime content and water regime.

An Introduction to Soil Classification (hybrid)

If you are a land manager, researcher or consultant working with soils in the field, and wish to make the best use of currently available soil information, this course is for you.

This two-day training course is led by a team of national experts in soil description, mapping and classification. Initially, you will gain a basic understanding of the principles and methodology behind soil classification and how it can be used to support the sustainable management of soil resources. Subsequent sessions give an overview of the three different systems used in England & Wales, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland and the two main classification system used at the international level.

The main component of the course focusses on the internationally used World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB), developed with the specific objective of enabling ‘the accommodation of national soil classification systems.’ You will learn how to recognize those soil properties that identify key diagnostic layers influencing soil behaviour, and how these are used as building blocks within the classification system.

A final session covers how to use WRB classes to interpret their ability to support different soil functions.


2 days

October 2024 – 1 day online, 1 day in the field (Shuttleworth, Bedfordshire TBC)

Working With Soils

Agricultural Land Classification Course

Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) has a formal role in the planning system in England and Wales and is designed to prevent the loss of our best and most versatile land in line with the principles of sustainable development.

This training course, designed and presented by agricultural land classification (ALC) experts from Natural England and the Welsh Government, offers a unique opportunity to learn about the background and technical basis of the current ALC guidelines.


By the end of the course you will learn:

  • about how the ALC system has developed over time, its underlying principles and its role within the planning system – the WHAT, WHY and WHEN of ALC
  • all the details of how land is graded – the HOW of ALC
  • what a report should contain to be verified by the Natural England and Welsh Government statutory consultees on planning applications involving soils and agriculture.

The course will include the opportunity to work within a group to undertake an ALC grading desk exercise to apply what you have learned.

This course is designed for soil scientists who wish to extend their experience to (or refresh an existing awareness of) Agricultural Land Classification, those commissioning ALC surveys from specialists, and planners reviewing ALC reports.