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Geography (GEOG) 265
Introductory Physical Geography I

Revision 2 closed, replaced by current version.

Delivery mode: Individualized study with home lab.

Credits: 3 - Science

Prerequisite: None.

Precluded course: GEOG 265 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for GEOG 261 and GEOG 262.

Centre: Centre for Science

GEOG 265 has a Challenge for Credit option.


GEOG 265 describes some of the natural physical and chemical characteristics of Earth and some of the natural processes occurring at, and near, Earth's surface. It provides a scientific background for further studies of natural systems and the environment, soils, climate and climate change, and water resources. Topics covered include: Earth's energy budget; atmospheric and oceanic circulation; moisture in the atmosphere; global climates; vegetation and climate; soils; and hydrologic cycle and water budgets.


Unit 1: Radiation, Temperature, and Global Warming

Unit 2: Pressure, Wind, and Circulation Systems

Unit 3: Moisture in the Atmosphere

Unit 4: Instability and Storms

Unit 5: Climate

Unit 6: Biogeography - Global Vegetation

Unit 7: Soils - Properties and Processes

Unit 8: Soil Orders of Canada

Lab Exercise 1: Radiation; Temperature

Lab Exercise 2: Global Pressure and Wind Systems, and Ocean Currents; Winds Associated with Regional Pressure Systems

Lab Exercise 3: Latent Heat, Sensible Heat and Water: Humidity; Adiabatic Processes in the Atmosphere

Lab Exercise 4: Stability and Instability; Convectional Precipitation; Air Masses; Midlatitude Cyclones

Lab Exercise 5: The Koppen Climatic Classification System; Strahler's Climatic Classification System

Lab Exercise 6: Plants and Environment; Biomes

Lab Exercise 7: Soils--Properties and Processes

Lab Exercise 8: Soil Orders


To receive credit for GEOG 265, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least 60 percent on the assignments and each of the examinations. All the assignments are required. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

8 Lab Exercises
(5% each)
Mid-term Exam Final Exam Total
40% 30% 30% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Phillips, David. 1990. The Climates of Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing Centre.

Strahler, Alan, and Arthur Strahler. 1996. Introducing Physical Geography, Environmental Update. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Other materials

The course materials also include a study guide, a student manual, and a laboratory manual.