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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

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2018 2017
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2019 2018 2017



  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). What is "Geostrophic Wind"? Explain the relationship between barometric slope and air circulation.
    b). What is ocean ranching? How are aqua-cowboys related to such activities?
    c). Explain the natural processes of soil enrichment and its impact on food production.
    d). How is 'Deep Ecology' as a concept different from "Shallow Ecology"? Explain.
    e). What are the environmental implications of economic geology? Discuss.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). "Evidences from palaeomagnetism and sea floor spreading have validated that continents and ocean basins have never been stationary." Elucidate with suitable diagrams.
    b). Explain the characteristics and weather conditions associated with 'Anticyclones' giving suitable examples.
    c). How are ocean currents generated? Discuss their effects on coastal climates with special reference to the Pacific Ocean.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). What are the causes of the origin of local winds? Discuss their significance on prevailing weather and climate in various regions with suitable examples.
    b). Define Peneplains. Describe the landscape features associated with peneplains under different geomorphic cycles.
    c). What are the factors affecting regional ecological changes? How do these affect human Health?
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Give an account of marine resources and their economic significance. How has marine pollution affected such resources?
    b). Differentiate between the characteristics of organic horizons and mineral horizons in a generalized soil profile.
    c). How does inversion of temperature occur? Explain its significance on local weather with suitable examples.


  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). Explain the sequential development of areal differentiation as a fundamental concept in Human Geography.
    b). Discuss critically food and nutrition problems associated with the developing world.
    c). Human migration is a reflection of the balance between push and pull factors. Elaborate with reference to the most recent diaspora.
    d). Has Malthusian Theory been discredited in contemporary times? Justify your answer.
    e). Discuss the different types of polarisation induced spatial inequalities and imbalances associated with growth poles.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Explain the problems and prospects of urban expansion in the context of urban fringe in developed and developing nations.
    b). What is the relation between gender equity and human development? Provide a list of commonly used gender related indices.
    c). Explain population, resource use and development nexus in the Limits to Growth Model. Why has this model been criticized intensively?
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Explain with suitable diagrams A. Losch's model of the Theory of Location related to Central Places. Why has this been criticized?
    b). How can Sustainable Land Management (SLM) harmonise the complimentary goals of environmental, economic and social opportunities. Discuss.
    c). "The stages of Demographic Transition are a reflection of uneven economic development across the globe." Explain with suitable examples.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). "Rural settlements are expressions of the basic relationships between human beings and their physical and social environment." Discuss.
    b). Describe the concept of Planning Region. Explain the environmental and economic factors in the creation of such regions.
    c). "Boundaries and frontiers have different meanings in geographical literature." Substantiate your answer in the present context.



  1. a). On the outline map of India provided to you, mark the location of all of 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) Nathula
    (ii) Hutti
    (iii) Ross Island
    (iv) Moreh
    (v) Ramappa
    (vi) Namdapha National Park
    (vii) Sela Tunnel
    (viii) Ennore Port
    (ix) Ramagundam
    (x) Betwa River
    b). Describe the origin, distribution and economic significance of Gondwana system of rocks in India.
    c). Examine the role of Indian Earth Observation Satellite Technology in enhancing weather forecasting and disaster management.
    d). Discuss the impact of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 on forest conservation in India.
  2. Answer the following:
    a). Examine the environmental challenges caused by the solid waste in metropolitan regions of India and discuss the efforts to overcome it.
    b). Why are millets considered as 'nutri-cereals' and climate-resilient? Discuss the constraints and opportunities of millet cultivation in India.
    c). Examine the geostrategic significance of Indian islands.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Indian Pharma Industry has to move from 'volume' to 'value' leadership to capture global market. Discuss.
    b). Discuss the problems of floods and their management with special reference to Indo- Gangetic Plain.
    c). Critically examine the role of petroleum energy resources on International Geopolitics with special reference to India.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). With falling fertility rate and rising median age, how can India translate demographic dividend to economic dividend?
    b). Poor quality of urban planning in India is a huge constraint in realizing the true economic potentials of urbanization. Critically examine.
    c). Highlight the salient features of India's trade policy. Discuss the status of India's balance of trade with China.


  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each:
    a). Identify the jute-producing areas and discuss the major causes of decline of jute mill industry in India.
    b). Urban built environment in big cities of India creates key changes in biophysical character of the landscape- Discuss.
    c). Explain the geological characteristics and ecological significance of the Eastern Ghats.
    d). Explain the cultural regions of India based on their cultural attributes.
    e). Why are critical minerals essential for the economic development and national security in India?
  2. Answer the following:
    a). A large number of Indian cities have a complex morphological characteristics due to their historical evolution. Elucidate.
    b). Discuss the significance of organic farming for sustainable agricultural development in India.
    c). Examine the geopolitical impact of bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka.
  3. Answer the following:
    a). Discuss the green energy initiatives of India as a signatory nation to the Paris Agreement.
    b). India's poultry sector has become one of the fastest growing areas of the country's agricultural sector. Examine its opportunities and challenges.
    c). Critically examine the ecological and economic impact of Indira Gandhi Canal Command Area development.
  4. Answer the following:
    a). Why India lags behind many other countries in agricultural productivity? Suggest suitable measures to raise productivity across the regions in a sustainable manner.
    b). Assess the ecotourism potential of Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep islands and highlight the challenges associated with the sustainable development of island territories.
    c). Describe the regional variations of health indicators among the Indian States.

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