You will probably find this course challenging, but hopefully also of great interest, particularly if you have a geographical background or if your main academic areas so far have been non-scientific.
Units 1 through 8 are designed to lead you through the material clearly and logically, highlighting and discussing the main points. You are given many opportunities to check your progress at regular intervals to make sure that you understand what you have covered before progressing to the next step. As you move further into the course, your progress will probably be made smoother and more interesting as you realize that you are learning more and more about your everyday environment. You will be able to see and relate to the processes about which you are learning. Many previous students of the course have made comments such as, "I will never look at landscapes and the environment in the same way again. I can see and understand so much more." We hope you feel the same way when you have finished the course.
The first part of the course focuses on the all-important role of solar energy in our physical and biological environment (the biosphere). You will examine the interactions of solar energy with the earth's atmosphere and surface, and the ways in which atmospheric circulation, precipitation, and weather systems are generated.
The second part of the course deals with the cycling of water and other earth resources in the living zone or biosphere. You will investigate the manner in which these cycles, together with energy flows, influence the nature and distribution of ecosystems and vegetation. A major theme in the course is the ways in which human activities interact with the physical features and processes in the environment. These activities may be a response to environmental processes, and they may also be an important influence on those processes.
Throughout the course, you will be asked to observe and interpret aspects of your local environment in light of what you have learned.
Delivery is self-paced, allowing you the flexibility to proceed through the course according to your own schedule. TRU-OL has no admission requirements and you can register for this course at any time throughout the year.
Introduction to Physical Geography focuses on the characteristics and spatial relationships of climate, the water cycle, and ecosystems. Specifically, by the time you have finished this course, you should be able to:
Introduction to Physical Geography comprises eight units of study, five graded assignments, and a final exam. A list of the topics covered in the units is provided here:
Unit 1: Earth's Environmental Systems
Unit 2: Radiation Balance and the Thermal Environment
Unit 3: Atmospheric Circulation
Unit 4: Moisture, Air Masses, and Storms
Unit 5: Global and Regional Climates
Unit 6: Water at the Earth's Surface
Unit 7: Energy and Matter in the Biosphere
Unit 8: Biogeographic Processes
Students will receive all course materials including the textbook in their course package.
Computer with Internet is required for the web-based version of this course.
An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course or by email if you are taking the web version. You will receive a welcome letter or e-mail from the Open Learning Faculty Member with contact information when you start the course.
In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final examination and 50% overall. The following chart shows how the final grade is determined for this course.
*Mandatory Course Component