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

Geography Syllabus For UPSC Civil Services Prelims & Mains

Salient Features of World's Physical 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

Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the World

Types of Resources

On the Basis of Origin, Ownership, Exhaustability etc.

Land Resources

Land Utilisation

Land Use Pattern

Land Degradation & Conservation

Forest Resources

Types & Distribution – Grasslands, Forests etc.

Causes of Depletion

Conservation of Forests

Water Resources

Marine & Freshwater

Water Scarcity & Need For Conservation

Integrated Water Resources Management

Agricultural Resources

Types of Farming

Cropping Patterns

Contribution to Economy, Employment & Output

Food Security

Mineral & Energy Resources

Classification of Minerals – Ferrous & Non-Ferrous

Occurrence of Minerals

Conservation of Minerals

Classification of Energy Resources – Conventional & Non-Conventional

Occurrence of Energy Resources

Conservation of Energy Resources

Factors Responsible for the Location of Industries

Classification of Industries

Location & Distribution of the Industries on the Basis of

Raw Material





Grants & Financial Incentives





Distribution of Major Industries – Iron & Steel, IT, Cotton Textile

Agglomeration & Footloose Industries

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

Geographical Features and their Location

Factors Causing Changes in Critical Geographical Features

Examples of Changing Geographicl Features - Mealting of Ice Sheets, Desertification etc.

Impact of Changing Geographical Features


How to prepare geography syllabus for UPSC

Geography is one of the basic and most important subjects in UPSC CSE. Questionson Geography are asked in all the three stages of the examination;and hence, it is essential to study it in detail. Since a lot of topics overlap in Prelims and Main, it is important to study it holistically. Here’s a time-tested strategy to kickstart your geography preparation for UPSC:

  1. Read NCERTs: Start out by covering GeographyNCERTs from class VIII to XII. It will make your foundation strong. Moreover, questions straight from NCERTs are asked in the exam, which is why it is important to start your preparation from here. 
  2. Basic books: Next, thoroughly study the basic books of geography, which includes Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong and Geography of India by Majid Husain.
  3. Previous years’ papers: Next, go for solving previous years’ question papers. Solving thesequestions will help you in identifying important topics that need to be revised and, if needed, re-revised.
  4. Mock tests: Mock tests will allow you to assess your preparation and identify the area(s) of weakness that you need to worked on.
  5. Current affairs: Read newspapers such as ‘The Hindu’, and monthly magazines, namely ‘Yojana’ and ‘Kurukshetra’for the current affairs portion.

Recommended booklist for Geography Syllabus For UPSC

  1. Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  2. India: A Comprehensive Geography by D R Khullar
  3. Human Geography by Majid Husain
  4. Models in Geography by Majid Husain
  5. Geographical Thought by R D Dixit
  6. Fundamentals of Geographical Thought by Sudeepta Adhikari
  7. Cities, Urbanisation & Urban Systems (Settlement Geography) by K Siddhartha

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