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Syllabus of Geography Paper - I (PRINCIPLES OF GEOGRAPHY)

Physical Geography

  1. Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crusts; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Volcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology; Geomorphology, economic geology, and environment.
  2. 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 fronts; Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s Thornthwaite’s and Trewartha’s classification of world climate; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change, and role and response of man in climatic changes Applied climatology and Urban climate.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, agro-forestry; Wildlife; Major gene pool centers.
  5. 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

  1. 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 secularisation; Cultural regions of the world; Human development index.
  2. Economic Geography: World economic development: measurement and problems; World resources and their distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth; World agriculture: a typology of agricultural regions; Agricultural inputs and productivity; Food and nutrition problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects, and remedies; World industries: location patterns and problems; Patterns of world trade.
  3. Population and Settlement Geography: Growth and distribution of world population; Demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; Concepts of the 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; Concept 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography: System 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.

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Syllabus of Geography Paper - II (GEOGRAPHY OF INDIA)

  1. 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.
  2. Resources: Land, surface and ground water, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources, Forest and wildlife resources and their conservation; Energy crisis.
  3. Agriculture: Infrastructure: irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, power; Institutional factors; land 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; Aquaculture; Sericulture, Agriculture and poultry; Agricultural regionalisation; Agro-climatic zones; Agroecological regions.
  4. Industry: Evolution of industries; Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminum, fertiliser, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage, and ago-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector undertakings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policy; Multinationals and liberalisation; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including ecotourism.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 urbanisation and remedies.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Contemporary Issues: Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues related 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.

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Previous Year UPSC Questions

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2022 2021 2020 2019 2018



  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). Define 'speleothem'. Discuss the various forms and features of speleothems.
    b). What are the high altitude environmental hazards? Explain with suitable examples.
    c). What is pollution dome? Discuss its formation and impacts.
    d). When corals are affected by stress it causes them to turn completely white. Explain the reasons of such an occurrence
    e). Well developed soils typically exhibit distinct layers in their soil profile. Elaborate.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Sequential changes in land use and land cover have brought global and regional ecological changes and imbalances. Elucidate.
    b). Explain how various aspects of channel morphology are used in transportation, settlement and land use planning, flood control and flood management
    c). What is the relationship between ocean currents and global surface wind systems? Explain with examples how does the gyre in the Northern Hemisphere differ from the one in the Southern Hemisphere.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Plants and animals that exist in a particular ecosystem are those that have been successful in adjusting to their habitat and environmental conditions. Elucidate with examples.
    b). With suitable examples describe the impacts of movement of airmasses on weather and winds in different parts of the continents.
    c). Discuss the role of Slope, Altitude and Relief (SAR) in landscape development.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Rise of surface temperature brings severe consequences. Elaborate the potential changes and threats associated with it in the world.
    b). Describe how short term variations in temperature are related to the processes of receiving energy from the sun to the Earth's surface and dissipating it to the atmosphere.
    c). With the help of suitable sketches describe the mountain genesis and mountain types. Give suitable examples from various mountain systems of the world.


  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). Analyse the effects of Globalisation on languages.
    b). "Shifting global trade patterns create new opportunities". Examine this statement.
    c). Examine the morphological factors that influence the origin and growth of towns.
    d). Discuss the role of transportation accessibility in regional development.
    e). Explain the geometrical boundaries with examples.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). "Culture is a dynamic concept". Elucidate with examples.
    b). "Automation is rapidly changing the economies of labour and will affect trade patterns in significant ways". Clarify.
    c). "Over crowding leads to chronic problem of shortage of housing in Indian cities". Explain citing relevant examples.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). "Climate change is a serious problem to global food security and poverty eradication". Critically examine.
    b). Critically examine the significance of the Quantitative Revolution and its influence in the development of Geography.
    c). Explain in detail the impact of regional disparities on economic development.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). How migration is affected by push and pull factors ? Explain how these factors play a role in understanding new settlement patterns.
    b). Explain the relevance and applicability of Von Thunen theory of Agriculture-location in today's world.
    c). Discuss the concept of 'Rank-Size-Rule' given by G. K. Zipf. Is this rule relevant in Indian context?



  1. Answer the following:
    a). On the outline map of India provided to you, mark the location of all the following. Write in your QCA Booklet the significance of these locations whether physical / commercial / economic / ecological / environmental / cultural, in not more than 30 words for each entry.
    (i) Tarangambadi
    (ii) Mahe
    (iii) Bomdila
    (iv) Dhola Sadiya Bridge
    (v) Talakaveri
    (vi) Satkosia
    (vii) Dholavira
    (viii) Sonamarg
    (ix) Maliku Atoll
    (x) Gangasagar
    b). Why has extreme particulate pollution remained a festering issue in Delhi NCR region?
    c). How do physiography and climate of India explain the biological diversity of the country ?
    d). The process of desertification leads to soil desiccation and soil loss. Explain.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Critically examine the factors affecting the unpredictability of South-West Monsoonsystem in India.
    b). The peninsular location of India provides scope for harnessing non-conventional energy resources. Discuss with examples.
    c). Groundwater contamination in the fast expanding urban landscape of India appears to have becomea major publichealth issue. Discuss.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the recent changes brought about in institutional frameworks of agriculture in India. Evaluate its impact on the agrarian economy of the country.
    b). Discuss the continuing disputes on water sharing between the riparian states of North-West India.
    c). Soils of India, are clear reflections of the structure and process. Comment.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). India is bestowed with rich mineral resources due to its geological structure. Correlate the above statement with large mineral belts of India.
    b). Discuss the importance of 'Dry-land' farming in the drought-prone regions of India.
    c). Incidence of extreme rainfall events and flash floods in recent times have led to devastating consequences for people living in low-lying areas and flood plains of the country. Discuss.


  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). Discuss the impact of Forest Rights Act, 2006 on the local forest communities in India.
    b). Can the Panchayat Raj institutions play a role in grassroot level planning in India ? If yes, discuss how.
    c). Discuss the significance of new ports on the Western Coast of India on the external trade of the country.
    d). How would decline in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) below the replacement level, in many states of India affect the future population structure of the country?
    e). Kalapani dispute has opened a new front on the India-Nepal international border. Explain.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Why do disparities in development and incomes between regions persist in large countries like India? How does the recent ADP plan address the issue?
    b). Critically examine the role of IRNSS-NavIc programme on the satellite navigation system of India.
    c). Examine the role of high population concentration in Indian slums in making them more vulnerable during pandemic conditions like the COVID-19.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the salient characteristics of industrial complexes of Western India. Examine the impact of SEZ policy on the region.
    b). Discuss the emergence of linguistic regions and states in India.
    c). What are the drivers of urban sprawl around the major cities of the country ? How have new investments in transport projects supported sprawl development?
  4. Answer the following:
    a). How do agro-climatic and land capability indicators assist in macro-agricultural regionalisation of India? illustrate with an appropriate map.
    b). Discuss the geopolitical significance of Quad in the Indo-Pacific realm with reference to marine trade in the region.
    c). Evaluate the role of the National Food Security Act, 2013 in providing access of food to the poor in India.

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