Though Geography has a large and wide range of questions to ask in CSE due to its heavy syllabus, it is also true that if studied and prepared properly, this subject can prove too good scoring. The list of UPSC Mains optional subjects is quite long. You have a choice of 48 subjects to choose according to your interest. The syllabus of Geography has many topics. These topics are related to economic geography, physical and human geography, and the geography of India. If you are a participant in the UPSC exam, you must read this article carefully to know it all. This article has all the relevant information about the geography syllabus for UPSC. Questions from the optional subject are asked not only in the exam but also in the interview. You must have a piece of strong and detailed knowledge about the entire syllabus. So, here is everything you have been looking for. Keep reading this article and grab all you want. 

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UPSC Geography Optional Syllabus 

Geography has a large syllabus to prepare for the UPSC exam. All the candidates move here and there in search of a proper syllabus of geography for UPSC.  This optional subject consists of 2 papers. Each paper is of 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks. You have to be careful while preparing for this exam. Each aspect should be taken care of very consciously. The wide range of questions makes it a difficult subject to choose. If you are interested in the subject, then only select it and then work over it precisely. You can go through this article and know the syllabus of Geography for UPSC. 

Geography for UPSC: Paper – I

The first paper is on the principles of geography. To understand the questions properly and to get the highest scores, you must practice the previous year’s question papers of your optional subject. The given list has all the necessary information. 

#1. Physical Geography

Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crust; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Vulcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology: Geohydrology, economic geology, and environment.

#2. Climatology

Temperature and pressure belts of the world; Heat budget of the earth; Atmospheric circulation; atmospheric stability and instability. Planetary and local winds; Monsoons and jet streams; Air masses and frontogenesis, Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s, Thornthwaite’s and Trewartha’s classification of world climates; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change and role and response of man in climatic changes, Applied climatology, and Urban climate.

#3. Oceanography

Bottom topography of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans; Temperature and salinity of the oceans; Heat and salt budgets, Ocean deposits; Waves, currents and tides; Marine resources: biotic, mineral and energy resources; Coral reefs, coral bleaching; sea-level changes; law of the sea and marine pollution.

#4. Biogeography

The genesis of soils; Classification and distribution of soils; Soil profile; Soil erosion, Degradation, and conservation; Factors influencing world distribution of plants and animals; Problems of deforestation and conservation measures; Social forestry; agroforestry; Wildlife; Major gene pool centers.

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#5. Environmental Geography

Principle of ecology; Human ecological adaptations; Influence of man on ecology and environment; Global and regional ecological changes and imbalances; Ecosystem their management and conservation; Environmental degradation, management and conservation; Biodiversity and sustainable development; Environmental policy; Environmental hazards and remedial measures; Environmental education and legislation.

#6. Human Geography

Perspectives in Human Geography; Areal differentiation; regional synthesis; Dichotomy and dualism; Environmentalism; Quantitative revolution and locational analysis; radical, behavioral, human and welfare approaches; Languages, religions, and secularisation; Cultural regions of the world; Human development index.

#7. Economic Geography

World economic development: measurement and problems; World resources and their distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth; World agriculture: a typology of agricultural regions; agricultural inputs and productivity; Food and nutrition problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects, and remedies; World industries: locational patterns and problems; patterns of world trade.

#8. Population and Settlement Geography

Growth and distribution of world population; demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; concepts of the over-under-and optimum population; Population theories, world population problems and policies, Social well-being and quality of life; Population as social capital. Types and patterns of rural settlements; Environmental issues in rural settlements; Hierarchy of urban settlements; Urban morphology: Concepts of primate city and rank-size rule; Functional classification of towns; Sphere of urban influence; Rural-urban fringe; Satellite towns; Problems and remedies of urbanization; Sustainable development of cities.

#9. Regional Planning

Concept of a region; Types of regions and methods of regionalization; Growth centres and growth poles; Regional imbalances; regional development strategies; environmental issues in regional planning; Planning for sustainable development.

Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography: Systems analysis in Human geography; Malthusian, Marxian and demographic transition models; Central Place theories of Christaller and Losch; Perroux and Boudeville; Von Thunen’s model of agricultural location; Weber’s model of industrial location; Ostrov’s model of stages of growth. Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.

Geography for UPSC: Paper – Il

The syllabus of geography for UPSC in this portion contains Indian geography. You must know the syllabus. It’s given below. Keep reading the article. 

#1. Physical Setting

Space relationship of India with neighbouring countries; Structure and relief; Drainage system and watersheds; Physiographic regions; Mechanism of Indian monsoons and rainfall patterns, Tropical cyclones, and western disturbances; Floods and droughts; Climatic regions; Natural vegetation; Soil types and their distributions.

#2. Resources

Land, surface and groundwater, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources; Forest and wildlife resources and their conservation; Energy crisis.

#3. Agriculture

Infrastructure: irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, power; Institutional factors: landholdings, land tenure, and land reforms; Cropping pattern, agricultural productivity, agricultural intensity, crop combination, land capability; Agro and social-forestry; Green revolution and its socio-economic and ecological implications; Significance of dry farming; Livestock resources and white revolution; aquaculture; sericulture, apiculture, and poultry; agricultural regionalization; agro-climatic zones; agro-ecological regions.

#4. Industry

Evolution of industries; Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminium, fertilizer, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage, and agro-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector undertakings; Industrial regionalization; New industrial policies; Multinationals and liberalization; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including eco-tourism.

#5. Transport, Communication, and Trade

Road, railway, waterway, airway and pipeline networks and their complementary roles in regional development; Growing importance of ports on national and foreign trade; Trade balance; Trade Policy; Export processing zones; Developments in communication and information technology and their impacts on economy and society; Indian space program.

Also Read : Prelims Question Paper of UPSC: Checkout These Previous Years Papers & Boost-up Your Preparation

#6. Cultural Setting

Historical Perspective of Indian Society; Racial, linguistic and ethnic diversities; religious minorities; major tribes, tribal areas, and their problems; cultural regions; Growth, distribution, and density of population; Demographic attributes: sex-ratio, age structure, literacy rate, workforce, dependency ratio, longevity; migration (inter-regional, intraregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.

#7. Settlements

Types, patterns, and morphology of rural settlements; Urban developments; Morphology of Indian cities; Functional classification of Indian cities; Conurbations and metropolitan regions; urban sprawl; Slums and associated problems; town planning; Problems of urbanization and remedies.

#8. Regional Development and Planning

Experience of regional planning in India; Five Year Plans; Integrated rural development programs; Panchayati Raj and decentralized planning; Command area development; Watershed management; Planning for the backward area, desert, drought-prone, hill, tribal area development; multi-level planning; Regional planning and development of island territories.

#9. Political Aspects

Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganization; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and inter-state issues; international boundary of India and related issues; Cross border terrorism; India’s role in world affairs; Geopolitics of South Asia and Indian Ocean Realm.

#10. Contemporary Issues

Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues relating to environmental pollution; Changes in patterns of land use; Principles of environmental impact assessment and environmental management; Population explosion and food security; Environmental degradation; Deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion; Problems of agrarian and industrial unrest; Regional disparities in economic development; Concept of sustainable growth and development; Environmental awareness; Linkage of rivers; Globalisation and Indian economy.

Also Read: UPSC Exam Syllabus 2021: Know all the Insights about Prelims, Mains and Interview Round


We hope and believe that you got all the necessary knowledge of the syllabus from this article. It is said that the UPSC Mains syllabus is the lengthiest. You need to have proper concentration on the topics of each part. If you are searching for something more, you can visit UPSC Pathshala and be carefree. You will not be able to study perfectly until you release your boredom and stress. So, you resolve your queries and confusions, you can come in contact with the experts of every field who will help you with their knowledge and experience. You have the option to be under the guidance of the professionals and ace the examination. You can also comment below for asking anything. We will bring all the relevant articles for you. If you want any specific topic or portion of CSE, you can type it here and get it as soon as possible.

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Geography Syllabus for UPSC: Let's Know the Syllabus and Strategies to Crack UPSC
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Geography Syllabus for UPSC: Let's Know the Syllabus and Strategies to Crack UPSC
Geography has a very vast syllabus. Many aspirants of UPSC choose Geography as their optional subject. Here are the details of the Geography syllabus for UPSC to prepare diligently.
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