Environmental Studies syllabus for CUET | How to prepare Environmental Studies for CUET

Environmental Studies for CUET: The environmental studies syllabus for CUET has been released by the exam conducting authority (i.e. the NTA) on the official website of CUET. Aspiring candidates can visit the official website or can go through and download the syllabus from here. More than 100 universities (Central, State, and others) will be participating in the Common University Entrance Test and will take admission based on marks scored in the CUET exam. A total of 100+ universities are taking part in the CUET, and approximately 2 lakh+ seats are on offer. This speaks volumes about the competition that students can expect in the exam. Going through the environmental studies syllabus for CUET and starting to prepare early is therefore very crucial. If you aspire for a seat in your desired course at a top university/college in the country, proper and rigorous preparation is required.

Apart from knowing the environmental studies syllabus for CUET, a few other crucial details that the students need to familiarise themselves with are, exam patterns and important details about the exam. In this article, we are going to discuss all these components of the exam in detail. It will also try to help all the students to solve the crucial puzzle of how to prepare environmental studies for CUET, by providing a detailed stepwise strategic plan for preparation and a few important tips for exam preparation. Let us begin by knowing some important details regarding the exam.

Few important details about the CUET exam:

  1. CUET will be a gateway to 100+ Universities, for UG admissions.
  2. For the first time since its inception, in CUET the medium of instruction will be available in multiple (13 different) languages.
  3. The exam will be conducted online, in Computer Based Test (CBT) mode, and over two shifts (Morning and Afternoon).

Environmental Studies syllabus for CUET

There are 7 broad units that cover the environmental studies syllabus for CUET. All the units include many topics and subtopics. Questions might come from anywhere, and it is very important that you go through the whole syllabus thoroughly. The Environmental Studies syllabus for CUET includes important topics such as

  1. Human Beings and Nature
  2. Population and Conservation Ecology
  3. Monitoring Pollution
  4. Third World Development
  5. Sustainable Agriculture
  6. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
  7. International Relations and the Environment

All the units are equally important and are interconnected with one another. It’s the responsibility of the students to ensure that they don't miss out on any part. The detailed environmental studies syllabus for CUET is given in the table below:

Sl. No.




Human Beings and Nature

(i) Modern schools of ecological thought.
(ii) Deep ecology (Gary Snyder, Earth First) vs shallow ecology.
(iii) Stewardship of land (e.g. Wendell Berry).
(iv) Social ecology [Marxist environmentalism and socialist ecology (Barry Commoner)].
(v) Feminism.
(vi) Green Politics (e.g. Germany and England).
(vii) Sustainable Development.

  1. Modern schools of ecological thought; definition and basic understanding of DeepEcology as opposed to Shallow Ecology; Stewardship, Social Ecology - Marxist environmentalism and Socialist Ecology, Ecofeminism, Green political movements of Germany and England and Sustainable Development (basic concepts).
  2. World Wide Fund for Nature – organisation, mission, strategy for conservation.
  3. Greenpeace – organisation, mission statement, core values, objectives, and strategy.


Population and Conservation Ecology,

(i) Population dynamics: factors causing population change (birth, death, immigration, and emigration); the relation between the factors; age structure and its significance; population pyramids; survivorship curves;
three general shapes r and K strategies.

  1. Factors causing population change (birth, death, immigration, and emigration); the relation between the factors; Age structure and its significance; Population Pyramids –interpretation and implications. Rate of change of population – the three general shapes of Survivorship Curves, r and K strategies, and differences between the two.


(ii) Human populations (Malthusian model and demographic transition). Definition of Carrying Capacity; Malthusian view: the concept of ‘over-population’ and shortage of resources; Questioning Malthus. Population Growth vs. DisparateConsumption of resources within and amongst nations.
Definition and understanding of Demographic Transition; Factors influencing demographic transition.

  1. Population Regulation: growth without regulation (exponential); simple population regulation (logistic growth curve); factors regulating population size (space, food and water, territories, predators, weather and climate, parasite and diseases, disasters, and self-regulation). Basic understanding of the Exponential growth curve (J – shaped) and Logistic growth curve (S-shaped); Factors regulating population size (space, food and water, territories, predators, weather and climate, parasite and diseases, disasters, and self-regulation). Human population control: family planning; education; economic growth; status of women. Strategies for human population control with emphasis on women’s empowerment. (Details of methods of family planning not required.)


(iii) Threats to the ecosystem: habitat destruction; genetic erosion; loss of diversity; expanding agriculture; impound water; waste from human societies; increasing human consumption.

  1. Only a brief understanding of the causes and consequences of threats to provisioning and regulatory functions of the ecosystem with suitable examples.


(iv) Conservation: importance; the critical state of Indian forests; conflicts surrounding forested areas - populations and tribals and their rights

  1. tourism - poaching - roads - development projects - dams; scientific forestry and its limitations; social forestry; the role of the forest department; NGOs; joint forestry management; wildlife - sanctuaries, conservation, and management in India; Project Tiger as a case study in conservation.
  2. Definition of Conservation, in situ and ex situ conservation. Importance of Conservation. In-situ conservation: Wildlife sanctuaries, National parks, Biosphere reserves (definition, objectives, features, advantages, and disadvantages).
  3. Ex-situ conservation: zoos, aquaria, plant collection (objectives, features, advantages, and disadvantages).
  4. Conflicts in managing and conserving Forests: India’s forest cover, issues concerning people living in and around forests with particular reference to tribal rights; threats to forests: poaching, developmental projects like roads and dams, over-exploitation of forest resources (direct and indirect).
  5. The role of the forest department and NGOs in managing forests.
  6. Some management measures: scientific forestry, social forestry (various types of social forestry), Joint Forestry Management (JFM), and ecotourism.
  7. Definition, scope, advantages, and disadvantages of each of the above.
  8. Project Tiger as a case study in conservation: Origin, aims, and objectives, successes, failures.


Monitoring Pollution

(i) Pollution monitoring.

  1. Primary and secondary pollutants.Importance of monitoring air pollution including Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (gaseous and particulate). Concept of carbon credits and carbon trading in regulating emissions. Causes for excessive vehicular pollution and various steps taken to regulate pollution-emission standards for new vehicles, implementation of CNG program, inspection & maintenance program for in-use vehicles, phasing out of old commercial vehicles, and promotion of public transport.


(ii) Monitoring the atmosphere: techniques.

  1. Monitoring at emission source and of ambient air quality, criteria for monitoring stations, types of stations, number of stations, frequency of data collection, characteristics of ambient air sampling, and basic consideration for sampling (to be dealt with in brief). Classification of techniques- manual and instrumental. ManualPassive samplers, High Volume Samplers, and Bubbler Systems. Instrumental-photometric techniques DIY, Chemiluminescence - principle, and use.


(iii) International and national air quality standards.

  1. National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (NAAQM); the main functions of the Central Pollution Board and the State Pollution Control Board, objectives of air quality standards, New name of NAAQM, NationalAir Monitoring Programme (NAMP)objectives of the NAMP.
  2. Definition of air quality standards and importance; National air quality standards for gases/particulate matter covered under WHO guidelines.


(iv) Water testing: indicators of water quality.

  1. Indicators (electrical conductivity, turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, faecal waste, temperature, hardness, nitrates, and sulphates)the significance of each and their interpretations. B.O.D. and C.O.D., a theoretical concept only (lab work for better understanding and not for testing)


(v) Soil testing: indicators of soil type and quality and laboratory work.

  1. Soil indicators- the characteristics of a good soil indicator, the three basic types of soil indicators- biological, physical, and chemical, are two examples of each. The information is provided by each of these types of indicators. Definitions, effects, and experiments to find out soil respiration, soil pH, soil aggregate, infiltration rate, and simple methods of controlling each of these.


Third World Development

(i) Urban-rural divide: urbanisation - push and pull factors; consequences on rural and urban sectors; future trends and projections.

  1. Causes of migration - push and pull factors, consequences on rural and urban areas, and ways to reduce migration. Future trends and projections.


(ii) A critical appraisal of the conventional paradigm of development from the viewpoints of sustainability, environmental impact, and equality.

  1. Definition of Development.

- An understanding that development has become synonymous with growth. This approach has the following impacts on the environment:
(a) Ignoring negative environmental impacts; (b) Changing patterns of resource use due to market pressures;
(c) Overuse and exploitation of resources;
(d) Diversion of scarce resources to luxury goods;
(e) Disparate access to resources;
(f) Increasing wastes and pollution.
The above is to be explained in suitable examples.

(iii) A case study of the Gandhian approach in terms of its aims and processes.

  1. Local self-governance – basic principles behind village policy, Antoday, Sarvoday, Panchayati Raj; local self-sufficiency, local markets, and environmental sustainability. The village as the basis of development; promotion of cottage industries and intermediate technologies; focuses on employment.

The above is to be contrasted with today’s paradigm of growth.

(iv) Urban environmental planning and management: problems of sanitation; water management; transport; energy; air quality; housing; constraints (economic, political) in tackling the problems; inapplicability of
solutions that have worked in the First World and the need for an indigenous approach to an urban environment.

  1. A basic understanding of the following urban environmental problems: problems of sanitation, water management, transport, energy; air quality and housing.
  2. Awareness of some indigenous solutions: Rainwater harvesting, garbage segregation, composting, energy from solid and liquid wastes, sewage management (dry toilets, Decentralised Water Management System (DEWATS)
  3. Features of new urbanism, goals of smart growth. The following examples of urban planning and management from the third world are to be studied:
  4. Bogota – Bolivia (Traffic Management);
  5. Cuba (Urban agriculture using organic methods);
  6. Curitiba – Brazil (Traffic planning and urban renewal using innovative measures);
  7. Cochabamba – (Water management and protests against the privatisation of water supply).


Sustainable Agriculture

(i) Traditional Agriculture in India: irrigation systems; crop varieties; techniques for maintaining soil fertility; the impact of colonialism; Indian agriculture at independence - food scarcity - food import - the need for increasing production - the need for land reform; green revolution - HYVs - fertilisers - pesticides - large irrigation projects (dams); critical appraisal of the green revolution from the viewpoints of agro-biodiversity; soil health; the ecological impact of pesticides; energy (petroleum and petrochemicals); ability to reach the poorer sections of the rural communities; sustainability - the need for sustainable agriculture - characteristics for sustainable agriculture; techniques of water soil and pest management.

  1. Definition of the following terms: traditional agriculture, natural farming, organic agriculture, modern agriculture (use of hybrid seeds, high yielding varieties, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides), gene revolution (genetically modified seeds), and sustainable agriculture.
  3. Irrigation systems:
  4. Macro vs micro irrigation systems - canal irrigation/dam as compared to sprinkler/ drip/ trickle drip/dug wells. Basic features, advantages, and disadvantages of each kind. Traditional rainwater harvesting- tankas, khakis, ahar, pynes, zings, johads, and eris (suitability of each type in the particular region).
  5. Features of pre-colonial agriculture in India: growing for sustenance rather than the market; multi-cropping,  management of soil health, diversity in the seed.
  6. Colonial influence: punitive taxation, commercial crops for export and British industry, devaluation of sustainable traditional practices. Bengal famine. Comparative study of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial agriculture and their impact.
  7. Green Revolution: Origin (food scarcity - food import - the need for increasing production).
  8. Basic principles of Green Revolution- Development of High Yielding Varieties (HYV); introduction of fertilizers and pesticides; mono-cropping.
  9. Environmental, social and economic impacts -advantages and disadvantages (from the viewpoints of agro-biodiversity; soil health; the ecological impact of pesticides; energy use; input costs; benefits to small and medium farmers, community level, and household level food security).
  10. Land reform – needs advantages, failures, and successes.
  11. Elements of sustainable agriculture: Mixed farming, mixed cropping, inter-cropping, crop rotation, use of sustainable practices of water soil, and pest management for improving soil fertility (organic fertilizers, biofertilizers, green manure, with two examples) and pest control (biopesticides). Integrated Pest Management (IPM); eating local foods
  12. Management of agricultural produce: Storage; Food preservation-different methods like use of low temperatures, high temperature, drying, canning, preservation by salt and sugar. Transportation of Food.
  13. Food processing - Definition, food preservation, packaging, grading.
  14. Food adulteration and Food additives-definitions; types of adulteration, harmful effects of adulteration.
  15. Quality Marks - ISI (Indian StandardInstitute); AGMARK (Agricultural Marketing); FPO(Fruit Product Order) - a brief explanation only.


(ii) Food: the twin problems of production and access; food situation in the world; integrated and sustainable approach to food security for the Third World. Food Security.

  1. Meaning of Food Security, need for food security. The problems in attaining food security - are those of production, storage, and access. An integrated and sustainable approach to food security for the Third World includes working for environmental sustainability and social and economic sustainability through land reform, credit support to farmers, market support to farmers, inadequacies in the present marketing system, and ways to improve the marketing system, improving access to food, ownership of seeds.
  2. An understanding that national-level food security may not translate into household and community level food security or long-term environmental sustainability unless the above factors are addressed. Main features of the Food Security Law 2013.


Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

(i) Definition: resources; scarcity and growth; natural resource accounting.

  1. Classification of natural resources - on the basis of origin (abiotic and biotic), on the base of renewability (renewable and non-renewable), on the basis of development(potential and actual), on the basis of distribution (ubiquitous and localised); scarcity and growth, and natural resource accounting. Classification of resources as renewable and non-renewable.
  2. Definition, basic principles, advantages, and disadvantages of Physical accounting.

(ii) GNP vs. other forms of measuring income. GDP, GNP – definitions, advantages, and disadvantages of using them as tools for measuring growth.

(iii) Economic status and welfare (net economic welfare, natural capital, ecological capital, etc.).

  1. A broad overview of the purpose of environmental economics. Definition and classification: Defensive Expenditure (its classification); natural/ ecological capital.


(iv) Externalities: cost-benefit analysis (social, ecological).

  1. Externalities – definition, kinds (positive and negative), impacts.
  2. Cost-Benefit analysis - Definition, the process in brief, advantages, and disadvantages.
  3. EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) -definition, examples, advantages.


(v) Natural capital regeneration.

  1. What is natural capital? Kinds of natural capital; classification of ecosystem services, causes of degradation (acid deposition, air pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and emission of carbon dioxide), ecological footprint and man’s disproportionate use of natural resources, the importance of preserving and regenerating natural capital.


International Relations and the Environment

(i) Trans-national characteristics of environmental issues using a case study of Amazonia, Trade in WildLife and Ozone Depletion.
Ozone Depletion.

  1. Case study of Amazonia - causes for exploitation of forests, reasons for the acceleration of deforestation, effects of government policies, the ecological value of rainforests, and possible solutions to the problem.
  2. Case study of ivory trade in Africa - reasons for flourishing trade of ivory in the past, steps are taken to curb the trade, and the consequences of the ban in trade.
  3. Case study of ozone depletion - what is meant by the ozone layer and how does it get depleted, (Chapman’s cycle), potential effects of ozone depletion, common ozone-depleting substances (halons, carbon tetrachloride, CFCs, methyl chloroform, methyl bromide, and HCFCs) and their life span in the atmosphere; Ozone hole; steps taken to control ozone depletion.


(ii) Impact of international politics, national sovereignty, and interest.

(iii) International trade: a theoretical perspective; free trade vs. protectionism; import barriers; domestic industry vs.
free trade; transnational companies - a historical perspective (colonialism and its lasting impact today); trade between the first and the third world - characteristics - terms of trade; India's international trade - characteristics
- major imports and exports - foreign exchange crises
- the export imperative and its impact on the environment; the case study of aquaculture in India; diversion of scarce resource from the production of subsistence needs to commercial products; toxic waste trade - extent and impact; Globalisation - trade regimes (WTO, GATT, IPR) and their impact on the third world.

  1. Definition, advantages, and disadvantages of globalization, free trade, and protectionism.
  2. Transnational Companies (TNCs) – definition; TNCs and environment – conflict of interest.
  3. History of third world countries’ trade with the developed countries (with special reference to India) with regards to composition and terms of trade (export of primary goods and import of finished goods at higher cost tapping of primary goods leading to environment degradation- open cast mining, agriculture, aquaculture, etc.).
  4. Case study of aquaculture in India to understand the impact of free trade.
  5. Economic allocation of scarce resources and their impact on the environment.
  6. Toxic waste trade – definition, origin, factors sustaining, impact on third world countries(example – health and environmental impacts), and steps to mitigate it (Bamako and Basel Conventions).
  7. GATT – the organization and its metamorphosis into WTO. Principles and functions of WTO: creating a level playing field for international trade through MFN (Most Favoured Nation), NT(National Treatment), and reduction of import barriers - tariff and nontariff barriers and trading to comparative advantages.
  8. Full forms of and areas addressed in the WTOGATT, TRIPS, TRIMS, Agreement on Agriculture (AOA). A brief understanding of how these agreements impacted India’s trade, food security, economic well-being, and environmental sustainability.
  9. Definition of IPR and its categories: copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial design rights, geographical indicators, and trade secrets.
  10. A brief understanding of each of the above categories.


(iv) International aid: agencies; advantages; limitations; the need for re-orienting aid; aid vs. self-reliance. International aid – advantages and disadvantages; Types of Aid: Tied and Untied Aid - advantages and limitations of each.

Two crucial things to know about the exam are to get familiar with the syllabus and to comprehend the exam pattern. This provides you with an overview of the exam and helps you to plan in a more thorough and effective manner. Before proceeding further, let's take a look at the exam pattern for environmental studies (CUET).

The detailed exam pattern is given below:

  1. NTA has officially announced that the history syllabus for CUET will include only the NCERT syllabus for class 12th standard.
  2. There will be one Question Paper which will have 50 questions out of which 40 questions need to be attempted.
  3. The maximum mark is 200, and 1 mark will be deducted for each wrong answer.
  4. Question type will be objective (MCQs) and the duration will be 45 mins.
  5. The exam type will be online,  Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode.

The Common University Entrance Test (CUET) is a centralised entrance exam. It aims to give an equal and common opportunity to all aspiring students throughout the country to grab a seat in their desired UG course at one of the reputed universities in the country. Given the significance of the exam, it is very obvious that students might feel confused, and unable to decide how to prepare environmental studies for CUET. In the next section of the article, we are going to discuss the same.

How to prepare Environmental Studies for CUET?

Going through the syllabus in detail, the next question in line is, how to prepare environmental studies for CUET?
There are several ways and many paths that you can follow to prepare environmental studies for CUET, but with proper expert guidance only you can choose a path that is ideal for you. This article will guide you by providing some important preparation tips and a brief strategy to help you cope with the workload and prepare smoothly and effectively.

Preparation tips for Environmental Studies (CUET)

Environmental Studies is a very practical as well as a conceptual subject. Fundamental clarity and understanding of the subject knowledge are more crucial in its preparation than any other thing. Once you understand and comprehend it thoroughly, try to relate and correlate and try to understand their relations. Given below are some preparation tips that are going to definitely help you in your journey toward success.

  1. Go through the syllabus minutely and make important notes/pointers.
  2. Try to relate and correlate the topics, to understand their relationships.
  3. Keep your notes short and concise.
  4. Keep yourself alert and active at all times.

Preparation strategy for Environmental studies

CUET is a crucial step that introduces to you the opportunity for higher studies (UG) in India. Considering the significance of the exam, one has to stay very alert and start their preparation early. Students are advised not to lose any more time and begin their preparation at the earliest. At the beginning of their preparation one main hindrance that could cause a problem is how to devise a proper strategy.
Actually, if you follow some basic rules and implement them in your day-to-day routine, the whole preparation process becomes a lot easier. A detailed stepwise preparation strategy is discussed below to make your task easier.

Adherence to the syllabus

The environmental studies syllabus for CUET is very brief and vast. You need to go through it with utmost attention and concentration. It has been declared that the syllabus for environmental studies will only cover sections from the Class 12th NCERT syllabus. But, if a student chooses to take help from any other secondary sources, they should be selected very wisely. Going through too many sources might confuse and mislead you at times. Therefore adhering to the syllabus and primary sources in detail is very necessary.

Sticking with a disciplined timetable

Concentration, consistency, and focus are three pillars of your preparation. The stronger they get, the more successful you will be. Concentration on your studies, consistency in your effort, and focus on your goal are the things you can't let loose. All these three things are dependent on you making an effective and suitable timetable. The timetable is very crucial as it makes you disciplined and keeps a check on you so that you don’t deviate from your path.

Revision & Practice

Considering the length of the syllabus, it is obvious that you might forget or could not clearly remember some portion of it by the time you finish it. Revision is therefore necessary so that you don't miss out on something and regret it later. Thus, revision is a very important step in your preparation. Mock tests are equally important, this makes you exam ready. Mock tests examine your knowledge and give you a real exam kind of feeling. Which teaches you many important things that you should know.

Eat, Sleep, And Relax

It is often seen that many students while preparing for entrance/competitive exams, take extra and unnecessary pressure and cause themselves harm. It is equally important that apart from studying, you eat and sleep well and also take proper relaxation. It is crucial to your preparation that you keep yourself fit and fine. When a healthy body and mind work in coordination, it yields the best result. Therefore it is your personal responsibility, to take care of yourself along with your studies.

The Common University Entrance Test (CUET) is going to be the biggest exam carnival at the UG level, and the competition, as well as the excitement, is going to be too high. It is crucial that you learn to hold your nerve and concentrate on the more important things at hand. You have to prepare suitably, to give yourself the best chance to score well in the CUET exam. You should follow the afore-described tips and strategies to make your plan and start your journey. Only by doing this, you can ensure that you remain up to date with everyone and don't lag far behind your peers.

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All the Best!