How to Prepare Geography For UPSC CSE | Strategy To Prepare & Geography Syllabus for UPSC Prelims

Geography is included in the General Studies paper in Prelims as well as GS Paper 1 in UPSC CS(Main) examination. In the UPSC scheme of the syllabus, Geography establishes the relevance of the existence of humans, the elements that are conducive for life, and the elements that are not conducive to human life. Hence, studying these elements would make you better positioned to safeguard the elements that are necessary for life. 

The syllabus of geography is divided into various micro topics that is discussed in the detailed syllabus below. You should also keep yourself updated on the recent developments in topics such as transportation, disasters, etc. 

Syllabus of Geography Optional for UPSC CSE

Part Topic Sub-topic

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.
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
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.
Biogeography 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.
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.

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 secularization; Cultural regions of the world; Human development index.
Economic Geography World economic development: measurement and problems; World resources and their distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth; World agriculture: 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.
Population and Settlement Geography Growth and distribution of world population; 

demographic attributes; 

Causes and consequences of migration; concepts of 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.

Regional Planning Concept of a region; 

Types of regions and methods of regionalization; 

Growth centers 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; Rostow's model of stages of growth.

Geography of India

Physical Setting Space relationship of India with neighboring 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.;
Resources Land, surface and groundwater, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources; Forest and wildlife resources and their conservation; Energy crisis.
River System 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.
Industry: Evolution of industries Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminum, 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.
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.
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, work-force, dependency ratio, longevity; migration (inter-regional, intraregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.
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.
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.
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.
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.

How To Prepare Geography Syllabus for UPSC Prelims and Mains

Geography is one of the basic and most important subjects in UPSC CSE preparation. It is asked in all the three stages of the examination, hence, it is essential to study it in detail. Since a lot of topics overlap in Prelims and Mains, it is important to study it holistically. Here’s a full-proof strategy to kickstart geography preparation for UPSC:

  • Read NCERTs: Start out by covering geography NCERTs from class 8th to 12th. It will make your foundation strong. Moreover, questions straight from the NCERTs are asked in the exam which is why it is important to start your preparation from here.  

  • Basic books: Next, go for a thorough reading of the basic books of geography, which includes Certificate physical and human geography by GC Leong and Geography of India by Majid Hussain.

  • Previous year papers: Next, go for solving previous year question papers. Solving the previous year’s questions will help you in identifying important topics that need to be revised and re-revised thoroughly. 

  • Mock tests: Mock tests are very important as they will allow you to assess your preparation and identify the area of weakness that could be worked out in the future. 

    Current affairs: Read newspapers such as The Hindu and monthly magazines namely Yojana and Kurukshetra to prepare the current affairs portion.

Booklist for Geography Syllabus for UPSC Civil Services Examination

  1. Physical Geography- By Savindra Singh

  2. Indian Geography by D R Khullar

  3. Human Geography by Majid Hussain

  4. Models in Geography by Majid Hussain

  5. Geographical thought by Dixit

  6. Fundamentals of geographical thought by Sudeepta Adhikari

  7. Settlement Geography by K Siddhartha

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Current Affairs analysis