List of Free Online Geography Courses and Educational Materials
See our list of the top free online geography courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.
Online Geography Courses for Credit
Free online geography courses are typically available through universities' OpenCourseWare projects, which consist of original class materials made available on the web for online viewing or downloading. Unlike the original classes, however, the free versions usually can't be applied toward a university degree program.
Education Portal's Geography 101: Human Cultural Geography class offers an affordable alternative to students who'd like to learn online at their own pace and still earn college credit. Instructors address the geology, cultural studies and environmental science topics that make up this interdisciplinary field of study over the course of several free lesson transcripts. There are also self-assessment quizzes and videos that are available to registered members for less than the cost of enrolling in a traditional course. This course includes chapters on:
- The Geography of Languages, Religions, and Material Culture - Study characteristics of the world's major religions and languages as well as factors influencing their dispersal. Find out how geography relates to the study of material culture.
- The Origin and Dispersal of Humans and Culture - Instructors discuss the last ice age, the great flood and the resulting migration patterns. Emigration, immigration, models of human origin and theories of cultural evolution are also covered.
- Domestication of Plants and Animals - Discover why the agricultural revolution changed humans' way of life and learn how plant and animal domestication processes varied from one region to the next.
- Settlement Patterns - Study the development of villages, cities and suburbs. Instructors also discuss how people and land use are distributed in urban environments.
- Impacts of Humans on the Environment - Examine the impact of agricultural and industrial revolutions on the environment and explore the challenges of development in emerging nations.
Free Online Non-Credited Geology Courses
Geography in Education: Exploring a Definition at The Open University
The Open University is a UK-based provider of distance education programs that offers an array of free online courses. Through OpenLearn, the school offers a unit designed for geography teachers that analyzes how geographic study can enhance a student's academic career. The unit covers the purpose of geography courses in schools, student views on geography and general views about geography's place in a student's training. Course materials include five printable text lessons and a reference list.
Geography of World Cultures at Stanford University
Stanford University offers this geography course as a series of audio podcast lectures that can be played through iTunes. These podcasts are enhanced to allow students to access images, which are synched to the audio. The course is focused on map analysis and how location helps shape the dynamics and development of religion, language and ethnic groupings. Students also examine the historical and geographical context of different cultures as well as globalization. The course studies these phenomena in Islamic religions, cultures of the Far East and Indo-European language development.
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Urban and Environmental Analysis at Tufts University
This originally 36-hour graduate-level course is designed to introduce students to the different uses of Geographical Information System (GIS) software in urban, metropolitan and suburban environments. Students may learn how to access and use census demographics, business data and land use information. The course also addresses how to use spatial databases and the online data retrieval functions of GIS software. Course materials include a syllabus with textbooks, project and paper descriptions, a list of PDF files that explain various GIS tools and a list of online GIS resources. Students don't have access to the lectures; a text document is provided for a basics tutorial lecture, and some lectures are linked to related slides.
A Workshop on Geographic Information Systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This graduate-level workshop was originally based on hands-on lab exercises. The course was designed to help students develop technical GIS skills as well as learn methods for data gathering, analysis and presentation, particularly as related to planning purposes. Free materials associated with this course include a list of texts available for purchase online, assignment and lab descriptions, notes for 15 lectures and a final exam.