History Syllabus for UPSC General Studies

History is an integral part of the UPSC exam preparation. History portions are present in the UPSC prelims exam as well as the UPSC mains exam. In the mains exam, it is part of the General Studies Paper 1. History is a subject that evokes mixed reactions from the candidates. While some candidates relish reading history, others simply dislike it. History is an important subject as it connects the ancient past to the present. It helps us understand why the world is as it is today. It helps us explore who we really are. With the right approach, history can be one of the most interesting subjects there are. In this article, we give you the history syllabus for the UPSC general studies paper. It is a substantive part of the GS Paper I Syllabus in the mains exam. In this article, you will read about the syllabus of ancient history for IAS, also about medieval and modern history.

For details on similar optional subjects syllabus, check the linked article.

Check the history syllabus for the UPSC prelims by clicking on the link given below:

History Syllabus for IAS prelims:

History of India and Indian National Movement. For details, you may check the page below:

Syllabus of History for IAS prelims

UPSC Mains GS I History Syllabus

Indian Heritage and Culture, History:

  • Indian Culture: Salient features of Literature, Art Forms, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian History: Significant events, personalities and issues during the middle of the eighteenth century until the present.
  • Indian Freedom Struggle: Stages, important contributors and contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization in the country.
  • History of the World: Events, forms and effect on the society from 18th century like world wars, industrial revolution, colonization, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.

History Books for IAS Mains

We also give you the important books for history for the UPSC civil services mains (GS 1):

  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma
  • Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania
  • India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
  • Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum
  • India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra
  • Mastering Modern World History – Norman Lowe
  • Themes of History  (NCERT Textbook of Standard XII)
  • NCERT books for History

For more such articles and strategy on clearing the IAS exam, visit the BYJU’S free IAS prep website.

Also, See:


  1. Which NCERTs are more important for history, old or new.

    1. Hi Ravin
      You can pick any History NCERT being it old or new. Make sure, you complete the syllabus. You can refer to UPSC previous year question papers to see if you are able to answer history questions after your read.

      1. Hello sir my optional subject is History ,which book is best for optional please suggest

      2. You can get an idea on History Optional Booklist from the linked article.

  2. hello ,in this optional paper there is only paper 1 ? i’m not finding the second paper syllabus in this article

    1. Hi, you can find detailed History Optional Syllabus in the linked article.

  3. Is Tamil Nadu 11 std textbook an option to NCERT ?? Also do we have to read Spectrum’s “India and after Independence” ??

    1. Hi
      For History, Tamil Nadu books are more akin to the old NCERT textbooks, which were more chronological. It covers the kings one after the other in a linear manner. For modern India history, you can resort to Rajiv Ahir’s a Brief History of Modern India and refer to Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence selectively.

  4. which optional subject is more success rate in upsc plz tell me

  5. is NIOS book enough for art and culture along with 11 finearts

    1. Art and Culture topic is important for the exam. Make sure you go through UPSC previous year question papers. If you are able to answers these questions, you should stick to the resources.

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