Biosphere and Physical Resources | Free online course | Alison

Environmental Studies: Biosphere and Physical Resources

Learn about the biosphere and physical resources, such as air, soil and water with this free online course.

Environmental Studies
Free Course
This free online environmental studies course teaches you about the biosphere and physical resources. This course will help you develop an understanding of how living things depend on each other, and how they depend on physical resources such as the air, soil and water. This course will teach you about a range of topics including biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, soil sustainability, water cycles, mineral resources, and more.
  • Duration

    1.5-3 Hours
  • Assessment

  • Certification

  • Responsive






View course modules


In this free online course Environmental Studies: Biosphere and Physical Resources you will be introduced to the Earth and learn how it is divided into four different spheres: the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. The biosphere is the sphere that contains all the living things on Earth. In addition to an ever-increasing global human population, increased pressure for economic growth and development tends to increase our demands on other living things and the physical environment.

To manage and protect ecosystems we need to know how the living things depend on each other, and how they depend on physical resources such as the air, soil and water in which they live. The course first introduces the learner to the biogeochemical cycles which are the carbon cycle, the water cycle, and the nitrogen cycle. You will also learn about how humans can interact with and adversely affect all the biogeochemical cycles, the biodiversity within ecosystems, as well as soil health and soil sustainability.

You will also learn about the composition of water, the various forms of water, the sources of water, the chemistry of water, water pollution and water pollutants. Finally, you will also learn about point and non-point sources of pollution, such as the mining and processing of ore deposits, and the sustainability issues around this. This course will be ideal for anyone involved in sustainable development initiatives or for those who wish to learn more about the fundamentals of the biosphere and its physical resources. So, why wait? Start the course today and expand your knowledge of the biosphere and our use of physical resources.

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Learning Outcomes

Having completed this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of a biogeochemical cycle, incorporating the terms "pool" and "flux"
  • Describe the natural cycles of carbon, water, and nitrogen
  • Define biodiversity
  • Discuss soil sustainability
  • Identify various soil-forming factors
  • Discuss how the water cycle operates
  • Identify the principles controlling groundwater resources and how they also can affect surface water resources
  • Determine the major kinds of water pollutants and how they degrade water quality
  • Discuss what sewage treatment does and why it is important
  • Discuss factors that control the availability of mineral resources


All Alison courses are free to enrol, study and complete. To successfully complete this Certificate course and become an Alison Graduate, you need to achieve 80% or higher in each course assessment. Once you have completed this Certificate course, you have the option to acquire an official Certificate, which is a great way to share your achievement with the world. Your Alison Certificate is:

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