Welcome to Geology and Oceanography Online

Instructor: Phil Farquharson
E-mail: philfarq AT Google's email service

Thinking about taking this (or any other) ONLINE course?

"Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."
   - Will Durant


If you are thinking about registering for this course because you think it will be easier and less work than a traditional classroom course, please do yourself a favor and do not take this course.

This course will require MORE SELF DISCIPLINE and MORE COMMITMENT from you than a traditional course. Because the course has no scheduled meeting times and no required lectures, you will be almost entirely responsible for your own education in this course. This course involves MORE READING and MORE WRITING than most traditional classroom-based science courses. The type of work is different, but the overall workload will be equal to or even greater than that in a traditional classroom course. You must be prepared to give this course the same weekly time commitment required of regular classroom-based courses, and you must keep up with all the weekly guidelines without being prompted. You must also be sure that your computer hardware and software function properly throughout the semester.

Should you take this course? Students who do not succeed in this course (i.e. they eventually either drop or fail the course) usually have one or more of the following things in common:

  • The student cannot keep up with deadlines -- he/she is the type of person who needs a lot of outside prompting to get things done.
  • The student has never been particularly interested in science, and sees this course as an obstacle rather than a learning opportunity.
  • The student has general difficulty with either reading or writing.

Special Note about summer sessions:

The material presented is the same as you would encounter in a "regular" 16-week semester, compressed into half the time!

IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH READING COMPREHENSION OR WRITING, YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE THIS COURSE. You will be much better off taking a traditional classroom-based course.

On the other hand, if you are a motivated person with a history of self-discipline and the ability to get things done without outside prompting, you are likely to succeed in this course. Furthermore, if you are the type of person who gets easily interested in many things, especially science, this class will probably be a great experience for you. Many (though not all) students find the independent, self-educational approach of this course to be as fruitful, and perhaps more rewarding, than a traditional instructor-led classroom course.

There are no required in-class meetings. All assignments, quizzes, and exams are completed independently online.

Your work in this or any of my online courses will consist mainly of the following:

  • Completing reading assignments.
  • Reviewing weekly lessons developed by the instructor.
  • Taking weekly quizzes/homework based on the corresponding instructor lessons and reading assignments.
  • Completing writing assignments beyond the textbook and lessons. These assignments will be based reading of online scientific articles, geologic YouTube and other videos, or other resources, as specified by the instructor.
  • Posting information for group discussion, and responding to group discussion questions on the class web site.
  • (possibly) Submitting a report about a virtual or actual field trip to a spot of geological or oceanographic importance.


  1. BUY OR RENT THE REQUIRED TEXTBOOK BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF THE COURSE (information about the book is given at the top of this page).
    • Regular access to an internet-enabled computer. (perhaps a library?)
    • A fast and reliable internet connection (cable or DSL connection strongly recommended).
    • An up-to-date Internet browser such as Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer, with an up-to-date version of Javascript turned on (enabled).
    • An email account.

REMEMBER, IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH READING COMPREHENSION OR WRITING, YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE THIS COURSE. You will be much better off taking a traditional classroom-based course.


I have been a geologist for 50+ years. Over that span of time I have worked in industry, exploring for oil shale, uranium and talc. I have worked as a computer and graphics consultant, drawing maps and cross-sections for a local geotechnical firm.

I am a "freeway flyer" which means I teach at multiple schools. I am adjunct faculty at MiraCosta College and San Diego Miramar and Mesa Colleges, teaching "face-to-face" and (sometimes) online classes in geology and oceanography.

In the past, I taught at Palomar College, Southwestern College, Grossmont College, InterAmerican College, San Diego State University, Antelope Valley College (Lancaster, CA), Montana State University, and the University of Calgary.

I am an active member of the San Diego Association of Geologists. I served as an officer for 5 years, becoming president in 2006. I co-edited the volume "Geology and History of Southeastern San Diego County California." SDAG has meetings on the third Wednesday of every month, with a wide range of subjects covered, especially environmental geology.


Modified 2 June 2015