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Course level: Undergraduate
This course introduces students to the principles of physical geography. Students examine the processes of Earth’s physical environment as well as the human-environment interaction. Topics include plate tectonics, the rock cycle, landscape building, water resources, the relationship between the Earth and Sun, the elements of weather and climate, vegetation and soils, types and uses of maps, and human interaction with the environment.
What you'll learn
Course skills and outcomes
Geography and Global Energy
- Apply basic geographic grids and mapping tools.
- Analyze the relationship between the Earth and the sun.
- Compare the properties of atmospheric layers.
The Earth’s Climate
- Explain how atmospheric properties affect air pressure, air flow, seasonal change, and cloud formation.
- Describe how weather patterns evolve.
- Compare ancient and modern theories of climate change.
Soils and Earth’s Internal Processes
- Describe the composition, formation, and uses of soils.
- Describe the properties of the Earth’s core, mantle, and crust.
- Explain the relationship between the rock cycle and plate tectonics.
Weathering, Water, and Glaciers
- Compare the effects of mechanical and chemical weathering on rocks.
- Explain the hydrologic cycle.
- Explain how human water use affects surface-water and groundwater processes.
- Analyze how global climate change affects glacier morphology.
Arid Landscapes, Coastlines, and Environmental Change
- Analyze the surficial processes that affect arid landscapes.
- Analyze the surficial processes that affect coastline formation.
- Analyze the relationship between humans and physical geography.