List of Free Online Geology Courses
See our list of the top free online geology courses. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.
Online Geology Courses for Credit
Free online classes in geology allow students to access course materials that include lectures, labs, handouts and assignments. Students are unable to earn college credit by taking most of these classes. Rather, they allow students to work at their own pace and download course materials as part of their personal studies.
Students looking to make the most of their online learning and earn college credit might want to consider Education Portal's Geology 101: Physical Geology course. Lesson transcripts can be accessed for free, and the video lessons and quizzes available to registered members offer an affordable alternative to enrolling in a traditional credit-based option. Chapters in this course include:
- Minerals Overview - Lessons discuss the environmental and economic impacts of mineral extraction and consumption. Mineral properties and chemical classifications are also covered.
- Rock Deformation and Mountain Building - Instructors outline the terminology associated with mountain building, the stages of rock deformation and the causes of geological folds and faults.
- Geologic Time - Explore theories of geological evolution, methods of numerical and relative geological dating and conditions of fossil preservation.
- Earth's Spheres and Internal Structure - This chapter covers the interactions between the Earth's four spheres and delves into the structure of the crust, mantle and core.
- Plate Tectonics - Discover evidence supporting continental drift and plate tectonic theories alongside components of the lithosphere and causes of plate movement.
Free Online Non-Credited Geology Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Introduction to Geology
- Special Topics in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences: The Environment of the Earth's Surface
- Basics of Impact Cratering & Geological, Geophysical, Geochemical, Environmental Studies of Some Impact Craters of the Earth
- Medical Geology/Geochemistry: An Exposure
- Structural Geology
- Sedimentary Geology
- Field Geology
- Mechanical Properties of Rocks
- Crosby Lectures in Geology: History of Africa
- Groundwater Hydrology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers numerous undergraduate and graduate classes that provide an overview of geology, its role in history and its connections to the environment, chemistry, health and more. In Introduction to Geology, students learn about concepts like erosion, rock formation and the elements. Students can download lab instructions to access additional educational materials, and they may be able to work on some projects independently. The undergraduate course Special Topics in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences: The Environment of the Earth's Surface includes online lectures about glaciers, deserts, groundwater and landscapes. Students can also download exams to test their knowledge, though answers aren't provided.
Basics of Impact Cratering & Geological, Geophysical, Geochemical, Environmental Studies of Some Impact Craters of the Earth is another undergraduate class that explores craters and current research studies through lecture notes. Students can learn procedures for analyzing craters as well as the environmental effects that result from impacts.
Geobiology teaches students about how life is shaped by biological and geological earth processes. Lecture notes can be downloaded and cover concepts that include aquatic chemistry, evolution, mass extinctions and fossil fuels. There are also 6 assignments offered through the online course that help students understand geobiology. Medical Geology/Geochemistry: An Exposure is a study of elements and isotopes and how they relate to the health of humans and plants. Students can download lecture notes to learn about specific techniques and theories. Another undergraduate class, Structural Geology, analyzes the process of rock formation. Students gain an overview of tectonics, faults and folds. The class also includes online downloads of lecture notes, labs and exams, complete with numerous images and diagrams.
Sedimentary Geology includes lecture notes that focus on topics like different types of rocks, fossil fuels and particles. Field Geology helps students understand geology, rock formation and geological theories. Although the class is offered online and students can't actually participate in practical learning, they can download laboratory exercises and online tutorials about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geological mapping.
The graduate-level class Mechanical Properties of Rocks explores rock deformation and how rocks behave in various situations. Lecture notes focus on geological occurrences and concepts like friction in rocks. Students can test their knowledge by downloading problem sets and labs.
Another graduate-level course, Crosby Lectures in Geology: History of Africa, gives students access to lectures by William Otis Crosby. The lectures focus on Africa's geological history (which goes back 600 million years), the Wilson cycle and Paleozoic history. The additional study materials include historic maps of Africa and its geology. Groundwater Hydrology is another graduate level course that centers on the role of groundwater in the hydrologic cycle and geologic structure. Students can download videos of field studies in Cape Cod and Bangladesh. There are also 15 lecture notes that can be downloaded in addition to the assignments.
The Open University
The intermediate class known as Geological Processes in the British Isles explores how the British Isles have changed geologically and how these changes affect geology across the globe. Students learn about tectonic plates, geological theories and the formation of the British Isles. The class also includes a summary and questions to help students understand geology.
Mountain Building in Scotland is an advanced class that focuses on the geological history of the Scottish Highlands. Students can download lectures online that cover specific theories and findings about plates, continental break up and arc-continent collision.
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