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About Geography optional

Syllabus Geography optional

Geography Optional Syllabus For UPSC Mains



Principles of Geography

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 Trewar tha'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 :

  • The 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 centres.

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, behavioural, human and welfare approaches;
  • Languages, religions and secularisation; 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: a 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 regionalisation; growth centres and growth poles; regional imbalances; environmental issues in regional planning; planning for sustainable development.

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; Von Thunen's model of agricultural location; Weber's model of industrial location; Rostov?s model of stages of growth. Heart-land and Rimland theories;
  • laws of international boundaries and frontiers.



Geography Of India

Physical Setting:

  • Space relationship of India with neighbouring 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.


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


  • 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 socioeconomic and ecological implications; Significance of dry farming;
  • Livestock resources and white revolution; aquaculture; sericulture, apiculture and poultry;
  • agricultural regionalisation; agro-climatic zones; agro-ecological regions.

Industry :

  • 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 includes 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, workforce, 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 interstate issues;
  • The 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 the Indian economy.

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

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