How to Study Geography for UPSC? A Step-by-step Guide to Study Geography for Mains and Prelims

How to Study Geography for UPSC

Geography is a compulsory subject in UPSC prelims as well as mains. In UPSC mains it is part of General Studies (GS) -I. Most of the problems faced by aspiring while studying geography is its vast syllabus. It gets very difficult to manage such subjects. But don’t worry. In this article, we will discuss how to study geography for UPSC prelims as well as mains.

How to Study Geography for UPSC Prelims?

Here are some ways to study this subject for UPSC prelims:

  • First of all, memorize the syllabus. Take a printout and hang it on your study table if you want. But knowing the syllabus every inch is very important as it will help you to focus on topics that are important from the exam point of view. This will also help while making notes for the subject. This process should be followed for every subject.
  • The second step is to study from NCERT and after that study from GC Leong. Do this properly as it will build your foundation for the books you will refer to in the future for Mains.
  • The next step is to pick up one topic at a time and study them from different sources like magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Make separate notes for current affairs related to it.
  • Solve previous years questions papers. Try to solve questions from at least the last five years.

How to Study Geography for UPSC Mains?

Geography is part of GS-I as well as GS-II. Let us understand how to tackle it:

  • For mains, if your basic foundation is strong then it will be easier for you to study. The question in mains is opinionated. Here proper note making is going to help in writing impressive answers.
  • Make notes on important natural resources that are imported or exported in India. Also, write their special characteristics and distribution
  • Make notes on major industrial zones of India as well as of major industrial zones of the world. Especially in the zones which affect India like silicon valley.
  • Study the reports by the National Disasters Response Force and their recommendations to reduce hazards at the time of disaster.
  • Study and prepare notes on major environmental organizations in India.
  • Reading ARC reports for disaster management will also be a great help to answer writing. Keep yourself updated with the latest development related to the environment and also with the decisions taken by the National Green Tribunal.
  • Mains also solving the previous year question papers is a must. You must practice answering writing each and every question on this subject and then get it evaluated by your tutors.

Also Read: World Geography Book for UPSC: A Simple Guide to Help You Tackle UPSC Geography

Geography Syllabus

1. Salient Features of World’s Physical Geography

This topic is further divided into sub-topics

  1. Geomorphology
  2. Oceanography
  3. Climatology
  4. Soil Geography
  • Origin & Evolution of Earth
  • Interior of the Earth
  • Distribution of Continents & Oceans
  • Plate Tectonic Theory
  • Distribution of Earthquakes & Volcanoes
  • Rocks & Rock Cycle
  • Geomorphic Processes – Endogenic & Exogenic
  • Landforms & their Evolution
  • Hydrological Cycle
  • Seafloor Spreading
  • Ocean Floor Configuration
  • Temperature & Salinity of Oceans
  • Movement of Oceans – Waves, Tides, Currents
  • Earth’s Atmosphere – Composition & Structure
  • Solar Radiation, Heat Budget & Temperature
  • Atmospheric Circulation & Weather Systems
  • World Climate (examples)
Soil Geography
  • Soil & Soil Contents
  • Process of Soil Formation
  • Soil Forming Factors
  • Types of Soils (examples)
  • Soil Erosion & Conservation
2. Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the World
  • Types of Resources
  • Land Resources
  • Forest Resources
  • Water Resources
  • Agricultural Resources
  • Mineral & Energy Resources
3. Factors Responsible for the Location of Industries
  • Classification of Industries
  • Location & Distribution of the Industries on the Basis of
  1. Raw Material
  2. Labour
  3. Market
  4. Capital
  5. Land
  6. Grants & Financial Incentives
  7. Power
  8. Transport
  9. Water
  10. Communication
  • Distribution of Major Industries – Iron & Steel, IT, Cotton Textile
  • Agglomeration & Footloose Industries
4. Important Geophysical Phenomena
  • Why Does Earth Shake?
  • Earthquake Waves
  • Shadow Zone
  • Types of Earthquake
  • Measuring Earthquake
  • Effects of Earthquake
  • What Causes Tsunami
  • Effect of Tsunami
  • Mitigating the Impact of Tsunami
  • Types of Volcanoes
  • What Causes Volcanoes?
  • Volcanic Landforms

Tropical Cyclones


Extra-Tropical Cyclones

5. Geographical Features and their Location
  • Factors Causing Changes in Critical Geographical Features
  • Examples of Changing Geographical Features – Melting of Ice Sheets, Desertification etc.
  • Impact of Changing Geographical Features

Geography Books for UPSC

  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • NCERTs of class 11th to12th
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • World Geography by Majid Hussain

Also Read: Is Geography Optional Scoring? Here’s How is Geography as an Optional?: All About Geography Optional


Geography can actually be a scoring subject if the preparation is done in the right direction. Knowing every corner of the syllabus before starting studies for any UPSC subject is a must. It is also present as an optional subject in UPSC CSE. Students mostly from technical backgrounds prefer to choose this subject.

If you are also interested in choosing geography as an optional subject, let us know in the comment section below!

Content Protection by
How to Study Geography for UPSC? A Step-by-step Guide to Study Geography for Mains and Prelims
Article Name
How to Study Geography for UPSC? A Step-by-step Guide to Study Geography for Mains and Prelims
Do you think the Geography syllabus for UPSC is very vast and is difficult to manage? Don’t Worry! Click here to know how to study Geography for UPSC mains as well as prelims.
Publisher Name
UPSC Pathshala
Publisher Logo