The first part of this course unit defines the object of study of physical geography and shows the diversity of studies within this field of geography. Students are expected to acquire the essential basic concepts of climatology, geomorphology, biogeography and oceanography (the fields of physical geography presented in this first part of the course), which will later be used in subsequent themes. The course will also aim to divide the world and Portugal in terms of physical geography, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the tools used by the geographer, namely, statistical data, cartographic, graphical and photographic material.
In the second part, the course unit discusses four environmental challenges, in accordance with the definition of ‘environment’ put forth in the first part of the course: global warming, deforestation, desertification, and the energy challenge. For these various different challenges, the course unit will raise the questions and certainties we currently have about their causes and reflect upon the visible consequences in the present and those yet to come. Whenever possible, the consequences of these environmental challenges for the territory of continental Portugal and for the economic activities developed there will be analysed.