Geography is one of the main branches of social science. It is said to be the study of people and the relation they maintain with their environment. It also includes the study of land and landforms.

Geography as an optional subject may seem a tricky choice, but if you have the passion for it, do not back down. The Geography optional Syllabus may seem a little tough to conquer, but a man can move mountains with their will power! This article will deal with the geography syllabus and provide you with a list of books for geography optional suggested by toppers of the IAS exam.

Geography Optional Syllabus

The main topics of Geography Optional Syllabus  for paper 1 are:

  1. Physical Geography:
    1. Climatology
    2. Oceanography
    3. Geomorphology
    4. Environmental Geography
    5. Biogeography
  2. Human Geography:
    1. Perspective in human geography
    2. Population and settlement geography
    3. Economic geography
    4. Environmental geography
    5. Biogeography

These are the main topics that you need to be thorough with for your 1st optional paper of geography that has maximum marks of 250.

Also Read : Overview of UPSC Optional Subject Anthropology: Know the Syllabus & Important Topics

Geography Optional Syllabus

The important topics for Geography Optional Syllabus of paper 2 are:

Indian Geography:

  • Resources
  • Population and Settlement Geography
  •  Physical Setting
  • Agriculture
  • Transport, Communication and Trade
  • Industries and their revolution
  • Settlements
  • Cultural Setting
  • Contemporary issues
  • Political Aspects

The second paper for your optional exam is of 250 marks too. This will cover important topics in Indian Geography. So, be ready to study Indian geography in detail!

Geography Optional Books by Toppers

Reading is the only way you will be able to score well. Now, reading the correct books too is very important. You may wonder why? The thing is that a lot of books are available, but it is important in choosing books that make it easier for you to understand concepts.

The importance of choosing the right book is understated. People believe that any book should do the job. The fact is that NO! Not any book can do the job. Candidates must research well before buying books. Look for books that are recommended by toppers for your Geography optional subject. That would have been tried and tested, but also remember this is not a case where one size fits all!

Geography Optional Books Suggested by Toppers

To make things easier, below is a list of books for Geography as an optional subject that was suggested by toppers from previous years. The books mentioned should help you, as they have proven to explain concepts easily and also have challenging questions for candidates to answer.

  • Agricultural Geography by Majid Husain
  • Climatology by D.S Lal
  • Environmental Geography by H.M. Saxena
  • Oceanography by Sharma and Vatal
  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Regional Planning in India by Chand and Puri
  • NCERT textbooks

Tips to Study Geography

The fact about geography as your optional subject is that content is available in ample amounts choosing the right content is very difficult.

Look for articles and websites that are verified. Geography is a factual based subject, thus you need to make sure the information is credible. Any discrepancy in information can lead not just to losing marks but also negative marking.

Create mind maps if it is not easy to remember. Mind maps connect one main word to a number of keywords, they will help you to keep information easy to remember.

Create short notes. Creating short notes will push a long way in preparation of such a wide syllabus. Be creative in your own way and take the task seriously.

Also Read: Create Notes for Self Study Like a Topper

Geography Optional Question Papers

Going through geography optional question papers is going to play a key role in the development towards the subject.

Past question papers will help you understand the marking scheme, the scope of questioning, and you can also understand your strengths!

Go to the official UPSC website and look for past papers. Keep practicing with past papers as it will improve your ability to write answers for your IAS exam.

The question paper pattern will remain the same as previous years unless any change is mentioned by the officials. So practice with previous question papers and get accustomed to the needs of the paper!


Geography is not an easy subject. The amount of facts to remember is definitely challenging but that does not mean it cannot be done!

This article suggests you books that previous toppers have used in order to combat the vast portion of geography. Remember, geography is also a part of your prelims and mains exam in the general studies paper.

Prepare well for both and keep working hard. All the best!

Also Read : IAS Saumya Pandey Biography: Check-out This Inspiring Journey of UPSC Topper

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Geography Optional Books by Toppers: Prepare for Geography Optional of UPSC 2021
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Geography Optional Books by Toppers: Prepare for Geography Optional of UPSC 2021
Appearing for UPSC? Want to be an IAS Officer? Prepare for geography as an optional subject with the recommended books given by toppers. Click to know more
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