Geography Syllabus UPSC Mains Exam

Geography Syllabus Paper – I → Principles of Geography

Physical Geography


  • Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces;
  • Origin andevolution 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.



  • 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 fronto genesis, 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.



  • Bottom topography of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans;
  • Temperature and salinity ofthe oceans; Heat and salt budgets,
  • Ocean deposits; Waves, currents and tides;
  • Marine resourcesbiotic, mineral and energy resources; Coral reefs, coral bleaching;
  • sealevel changes; law of the sea and marine pollution



  • 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; agro-forestry; Wild life; Major gene pool centres.


Environmental Geography

  • Principle of ecology; Human ecological adaptations; Influence of man onecology 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, behavioural, human and welfare approaches; Languages, religions and secularisation;
  • Cultural regions of the world; Human development index


Economic Geography

  • World economic developmentmeasurement and problems;
  • World resources andtheir distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth;
  • World agriculturetypology of agricultural regions; agricultural inputs and productivity;
  • Food and nutrition problems; Food security; faminecauses, effects and remedies;
  • World industrieslocational patterns and problems; patterns of world trade.


Population and Settlement Geography

  • Growth and distribution of world population; demographicattributes;
  • 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 morphologyConcepts 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 regionalisation;
  • Growth centresand 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; Ostov’s model of stages of growth
  • Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.


Click Here – Book For Geography Optional Paper – 1


Geography Syllabus Paper – II → Geography of India

Physical Setting

  • Space relationship of India with neighboring countries; Structure and relief;
  • Drainagesystem 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



  • Land, surface and ground water, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources;
  • Forest and wildlife resources and their conservation;
  • Energy crisis



  • Infrastructureirrigation, seeds, fertilizers, power;
  • Institutional factorsland holdings, 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;
  • Aqua – culture; sericulture, apiculture and poultry; agricultural regionalisation; agro-climatic zones; agro- ecological regions.



  • 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 regionalisation; 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 programme


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, intra- regional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.



  • 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 programmes;
  • Panchayati Raj and decentralised planning; Command area development; Watershed management;
  • Planning for 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 reorganisation; 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


Click Here – Book For Geography Optional Paper – 2 


NOTE → Candidates will be required to answer one compulsory map question pertinent to subjects covered by this paper

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