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Courses : Syllabi : 101

Geography 101 Principles of Physical Geography


Dr. Jane Thorngren

Course Description

This course covers the principles underlying the fundamental nature and dynamics of the physical world: the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and their systematic spatial relationships.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:




Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:

Grades will be based on 4 objective exams (closed book), 4 online open book quizzes, and in-class questions using clickers.

Grade breakdown:

Exams will be taken in class on the scheduled date, and will primarily be based on material covered in class. You are responsible for all information covered in lecture, including videos. Exams include multiple choice and True/False questions. All exams are cumulative.

Online quizzes: The online quizzes will be primarily based on the textbook, and may include material not covered during class lectures. The online quizzes will be taken on Blackboard. Quizzes will be available for approximately one (1) week.

Clicker questions will be given randomly in class throughout the semester, and will be primarily based on material covered in class. Your responses will determine the participation part of your grade.

Some additional clicker questions may be designated as extra credit questions. Up to 20 points extra credit may be given, primarily during class time. There will be no makeups for extra credit.

Books and Materials

McKnight, Tom L., and Darrel Hess. 2008. Physical Geography, A Landscape Appreciation. Ninth Edition. Prentice-Hall. Textbook may be rented or purchased in hardcover or loose-leaf format.

E-instruction response pad (CPS clicker): This should be purchased at the same time as your textbook.

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One Intro to class
The Earth in Space
Earth’s Atmosphere and Seasons
The Geographic Grid and Time Zones
Week Two Atmosphere, Seasons, Geographic Grid (cont)
Maps and Projections
Week Three Maps and Projections (cont)
Remote Sensing
Earth’s Atmosphere
Week Four Insolation, Temperature, Energy Budget
Atmospheric Pressure and Wind
Week Five Pressure and Wind (cont)
Exam One
Week Six Atmospheric Moisture and Precipitation
Week Seven Air Masses, Fronts, Storms
World climate patterns
Week Eight Climate (cont)
Biogeography: World biomes, Cycles in the biosphere
Week Nine Biogeography: Plant and Animal Environmental Adaptations, Human impacts on the biosphere
Week Ten Exam Two
Week Eleven Landforms, Rocks
Plate Tectonics Theory
Tectonic Processes: Volcanoes and Plutons, Folding and Faulting, Earthquakes
Week Twelve Tectonic Processes (cont)
Weathering and Mass Wasting
Week Thirteen Weathering and Mass Wasting (cont)
Exam Three
The Hydrosphere
Week Fourteen Solution Processes
Fluvial Processes
Week Fifteen Landforms of Glaciated Regions
Landforms of Deserts: Aeolian Processes
Landforms of Coasts

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.