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Physical Geography




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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.


Why take courses at University of Phoenix

Accreditation that matters

We’ve been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( for more than 40 years.

Real-world instructors

Learn from instructors who bring an average of 25 years of working experience to the classroom.

Affordable and potentially reimbursable

Our tuition and fees are competitive and fixed. Also, check to see if your employer will cover you for this course.

Next Steps

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Call (844) 937-8679

Transfer Credits

Credit Transfer

Credit Transfer

Need to transfer credits to another college or university?

Before you enroll in a course, check with your school of choice to make sure they will accept our transfer credits and to understand any requirements or limitations. Then you can complete your course, and request your official transcript be sent to your school. That’s it!

How to request your transcripts