Online Class: Geography 101

In this course, you will learn all about the different geographical features that make up our planet, learn to distinguish islands from atolls and peninsulas, learn how the huge tectonic plates interact to create mountains and valleys and how wind and water shape our world, and you will also learn about the way people, plants, and animals have changed the world.

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Course Description

Unveiling the Secrets of our Planet: A Comprehensive Geography Course

Have you ever wondered about the intricate patterns on a map, or pondered how magnificent mountains came to be? Dive into the captivating realm of geography and unravel the mysteries of our world with our meticulously designed Geography Course. Spanning eleven illuminating lessons, this course is set to transform your understanding of the Earth's myriad geographical wonders.

Why This Course is Crucial for You

The world is a vast tapestry of interwoven natural phenomena and human interventions. From the majesty of towering peaks to the precision of cartographical representations, the interplay between nature and humanity continually reshapes the world we inhabit. By exploring the foundational concepts of geography, you will attain a more profound appreciation of our world's complexities and gain the knowledge to contextualize global events, both natural and anthropogenic.

What You Will Learn

  • Landforms and Their Origins - Differentiate between diverse landforms like islands, atolls, and peninsulas. Dive into the mechanisms behind their formation, from the colossal movement of tectonic plates to the gentle caresses of wind and water that mold our landscapes.

  • Earth's Spheres and Their Interactions - Delve deep into the intricate web of Earth's spheres: the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Learn how these distinct layers, each with its unique characteristics, intertwine to create the Earth's vibrant and dynamic systems.

  • Maps and Human Perceptions - Maps are more than tools; they are mirrors reflecting cultural and experiential influences. Discover the intricacies of map-making, how humans have divided oceans for navigation and territorial claims, and how cultural perspectives can influence cartographic representations.

  • Human Influence on Geography - The Earth's landscapes bear the imprints of millennia of human activity. From agriculture to urbanization, delve into how humanity has sculpted its environment, sometimes with unintended consequences.

Course Breakdown

  • Lesson 1: What is Geography? - An introduction to the vast and intricate world of geography, setting the stage for the lessons to come.

  • Lesson 2: Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes - Dive into the watery realms of our planet, understanding their formation, significance, and influence on global climate patterns.

  • Lesson 3: Continents and Islands - Explore the large landmasses and the secluded islands, their formation, and their varied ecosystems.

  • Lesson 4: Mountains and Valleys - Ascend to the peaks of the world's great ranges and descend into the serene valleys, understanding their formation and ecological importance.

  • Lesson 5: How the Wind Affects Landforms - Delve into aeolian processes that shape deserts, dunes, and other wind-sculpted landscapes.

  • Lesson 6: How Water Affects Landforms - From majestic waterfalls to vast floodplains, explore how water shapes our world.

  • Lesson 7: Plate Tectonics - Unravel the science behind earthquakes, volcanoes, and the drifting continents.

  • Lesson 8: The Effect of Plants and Animals on Landforms - Discover the symbiotic relationship between flora, fauna, and the landscapes they inhabit.

  • Lesson 9: How People Affect the Geography of the Planet - Investigate the profound and often complex ways human activities reshape the Earth.

  • Lesson 10: How People Divide the Planet - Delve into the politics, cultural influences, and historical events behind global divisions.

  • Lesson 11: Using a Map - Equip yourself with the skills to decode maps, navigating the myriad symbols, scales, and projections.

Embarking on this Journey

At the culmination of this course, you won't merely see landscapes; you'll understand them. You won't just use maps; you'll appreciate the stories they tell. Equip yourself with a holistic understanding of our planet's physical and human stories and start seeing the world through a richer, more informed lens. Join us in this enlightening journey and let the world reveal its secrets to you!

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Course Motivation

There are two basic aspects of geography: the study of the natural Earth, the planet as it exists as a whole, and the study of the Earth as a place inhabited by human beings.

What is the difference between these two different aspects of geography?

Imagine that people don't exist, or rather that we exist, but had never invented language, books, maps, nations, or any other way of looking at the world that differs from any animal. If that were so, we would see the world composed of water, land, and places that could be recognized mainly by their shapes. If we lived long enough, we might see that the shapes of things changed over time. We might understand that wind and water and the movement of the earth itself cause changes to the landscape. This way of looking at the world is the study of physical geography.

However, we are people, and over time, we have divided the world into human boundariesWe have created nations, states, cities, and towns. Some borders are marked by natural boundaries, such as the U.S. state lines that follow the Mississippi River. Others are created by people and ignore the natural features of the land. The study of countries, and other human based divisions of the planet, is also a part of geography.

In this course, we are going to pay the most attention to natural aspects, covering different geographical forms, such as mountains and rivers, and how they influence changes in the landscape.

To begin, let's look at the way the planet itself was formed. Our most current theories say that about 4.6 billion years ago, the sun began to form out of a huge cloud of dust and gas. Most of this matter went into making the sun, but some of it began to collide and stick together, forming planets, moons, and asteroids. Eventually, these bodies settled into their present orbits. Scientists calculate that this happened fairly quickly, compared to how long the planets have existed, within a period of about 100 million years.

Scientists theorize that at some time during this process, a large meteor about the size of the planet Mars collided with the Earth. The impact of this collision tore away some matter from the Earth. This matter eventually became our Moon. Scientists date this event to about 4.5 billion years ago because astronauts have found rocks on the moon that are 4.47 billion years old.

This was a time when many meteors and asteroids collided with the Earth, other planets, and each other. Although this period only lasted about 600 million years, occasional collisions still occur. Every year, tiny pieces of meteors hit the Earth. They do little damage, because they are very small, but every few million years, one may be large enough to affect the planet in a dramatic way. Many scientists believe that such a collision occurred about 65 million years ago, resulting in climate changes that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The remaining Earth matter, very hot from the energy released by colliding dust particles, formed into what we know as Earth. The heaviest and most dense part of the Earth is a solid core in the center of the planet. This core is composed mostly of iron and nickel. That core is surrounded by a molten, or liquid, layer of iron and nickel. Molten rock is also known as magma. A thick mantle of partially cooled rock surrounds that magma. This mantle is rather spongy and filled with pockets of gas. 

The outermost layer of rock, called 'crust' is almost completely cool. The crust contains everything we can see on the planet. The highest mountains and the deepest valleys are all part of the crust. Although we can't see it, the bottom of the ocean is also part of the crust. The only time we catch the smallest glimpse of anything below the crust is when volcanic eruptions push molten rock or gases to the surface of the planet.

The oldest rock found on the Earth to date is about 4.4 billion years old. Because of this find, scientists believe that the Earth managed to cool down fairly quickly after the collision that also created the moon. Scientists estimate that roughly 4.6 billion years ago, the Earth and all the inner planets were formed.

Of the inner planets, the Earth has the most interesting and changeable surface. This is because in addition to the volcanic activity that shapes geographic features, the Earth has two other large forces at work: the hydrosphere and the atmosphere.

The hydrosphere is what we call the oceans, rivers, lakes, and glaciers that cover most of the planet. The word comes from hydro, meaning water, and sphere, meaning round. The atmosphere is the layer of air (mostly nitrogen, 80%; and also oxygen, 20%) that surrounds the planet. Both the air and water on Earth work to affect the shape of the crust. 

In addition, the crust itself is continually changing. According to the Plate Tectonic Theory, the crust is cracked, like an egg that's fallen onto the floor. Like an eggshell, the pieces more or less fit together. Unlike an eggshell, however, the pieces are always moving, rubbing together, and sometimes overlapping at the edges.

So, we have three large forces that work to change the geography of the world: air, water, and the movement of global plates. These different forces also affect each other. Plate movement can cause volcanic activity, which may affect the movement of wind, and the courses of rivers. 

On top of that, there is the effect of plants and animals on the landscape, and the impact of external forces, such as the gravitational pull of the moon and the occasional collision with meteors. All in all, there are a lot of things that can change the world around us!

As you complete this course, you will learn more about each of these forces. You will also learn more about the ways in which we humans divide and chart the world.
  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,103 votes)

Lesson 1: What is Geography?

Geography is the study of our planet's surface. In this lesson we will discuss the scientific theories about how the Earth formed. Additional lesson topics: National Council for Geographic Education 115 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Does Your World Rock?; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1, Assignment One
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam:What is Geography?

Lesson 2: Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes

Most of the Earth's surface is covered with water. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam:Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes

Lesson 3: Continents and Islands

While most of our planet is covered with water, continents and islands are landforms. 90 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam:Continents and Islands

Lesson 4: Mountains and Valleys

This lesson will describe how mountains and valley are formed. 120 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4, Assignment One
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam:Mountains and Valleys

Lesson 5: How the Wind Affects Landforms

Wind affects all landforms differently depending on climate and terrain. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam:How the Wind Affects Landforms

Lesson 6: How Water Affects Landforms

In this lesson, we will talk about the effects of water on geographic landforms. 140 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6, Assignment One
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam:How Water Affects Landforms

Lesson 7: Plate Tectonics

Tectonic plates float around the surface of the Earth's mantle. 140 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7, Assignment One
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam: Plate Tectonics

Lesson 8: The Effect of Plants and Animals on Landforms

In this lesson we will discuss the impact of animals and plants on landforms. 100 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam: The Effect of Plants and Animals on Landforms

Lesson 9: How People Affect the Geography of the Planet

Ever since people began to farm the land and create permanent homes, humans have made very striking changes to the landscape. 140 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Lesson discussions: I Wish I Could...; My Favorite Television Shows...
  • Complete: Lesson 9, Assignment One
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam: How People Affect the Geography of the Planet

Lesson 10: How People Divide the Planet

People divide the earth in many ways including latitude and longitude, continents, countries and states. 70 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam: How People Divide the Planet

Lesson 11: Using a Map

Unless you are using a GPS in your car, a map can give you directions and the mileage to your destination. 560 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Final Course Poll - Your Opinion; Course Comments; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 Exam: Using a Map
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define geography.
  • Describe oceans, rivers, and lakes.
  • Describe continents and islands.
  • Describe mountains and valleys.
  • Describe how the wind affects landforms.
  • Describe how water affects landforms.
  • Summarize plate tectonics.
  • Describe the effect of plants and animals on landforms.
  • How People Affect the Geography of the Planet
  • Describe how people divide the planet.
  • Describe using a map.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Geography 101
Course Number: 7550429
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (2,103 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: January 2024
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.7 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: UniversalClass Instructional Team
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Thanks for providing this content. It was interesting to go though the lessons to learn about our planet." -- Dallas B.
  • "Overall, this course was great! I have learned many things from these lessons and I enjoyed my time learning about Geography." -- Ramses V.
  • "I think it was very helpful and engaging - I appreciate and thank everyone who worked on this course, and especially my instructor for grading all of my work." -- Malycia A.
  • "I think this course pretty much covered everything!" -- Donna R.
  • "I found this course very helpful and it had no flaws." -- Emma H.
  • "It was fantastic, learned a lot of things about geography that I had forgotten." -- Kayla T.
  • "This course is amazing!" -- Heaven B.
  • "it was very helpful, thank you so much." -- Ila M.
  • "This was the first real online course I had ever taken, and it was an excellent experience. The advantage of being able to learn from home, as opposed to having to go to a certain place and classroom for a set meeting time, truly paid off. I would strongly recommend online classes for those people who spend most of their day working and can't always attend a place of instruction and need to be able to learn in their spare time." -- Jeff N.
  • "The video at the end of the lesson was a very helpful tool." -- Grace L.