Syllabus Of Geography For IAS Exam (Prelims, Mains And Optional)

Geography is an important subject as far as the UPSC civil services exam is concerned. It is a part of the UPSC prelims and mains exams. Geography is also an optional subject offered by the commission and as far as the numbers go, it is an immensely popular optional. Its rational nature and scoring ability make it especially popular among candidates with both science and arts backgrounds. But even if you don’t opt for Geography optional, you cannot escape studying Geography if you want to clear the IAS exam. In this article, you will read about the syllabus of Geography for IAS exam – prelims, mains and optional. Geography syllabus for UPSC is given in detail below.


IAS 2023 results


UPSC Prelims Geography Syllabus

Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

As you can see, the syllabus mentions only 1 line. Let us look at the details now.

Indian Geography

  1. Basics of India
    1. Location, latitude, longitude, time zone, etc.
    2. Neighbours
    3. Important straits
    4. States and their position
    5. States with international boundaries
  2. Physical features
    1. The Himalayas – geological formation, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, physiographic divisions, major passes, significance
    2. The Great North Indian Plains – geological formation, physiographic divisions, climate, vegetation, soil, biodiversity, significance
    3. Peninsular Plateau – geological formation, Central Highlands, Deccan Plateau, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats
    4. Indian Desert
    5. Coastal plains and islands
  3. River systems
    1. Himalayan rivers
    2. Peninsular rivers
    3. River basins
    4. Regional development and planning
    5. Hydropower projects, major dams
    6. West-flowing and east-flowing rivers
    7. Interlinking of rivers
  4. Climate
    1. Monsoons – driving mechanism, El Nino, La Nina
    2. Seasons
    3. Cyclones
  5. Minerals and industries – mineral distribution, industrial policies, location
  6. Agriculture
    1. Land utilisation
    2. Types of agricultural practices
    3. Green revolution
    4. Soils and crops
    5. Irrigation
    6. Land reforms
    7. Animal husbandry
    8. Government schemes
  7. Natural vegetation and fauna
    1. Classification of natural vegetation
    2. Rainfall distribution in India
    3. Biosphere reserves, national parks, etc.
    4. Red-listed species
  8. Economic infrastructure
    1. Transportation (highways, inland waterways, etc.)
    2. Power and energy sector
    3. Conventional and non-conventional sources of energy
    4. Energy conservation
  9. Human Geography
    1. Demographics
    2. Recent census

World Geography

  1. Major natural regions
  2. Regional geography of developed countries
  3. Regional geography of developing countries
  4. Regional geography of South Asia

Physical Geography

  1. Geomorphology
    1. Origin of the earth
    2. Interior of the earth
    3. Types and characteristics of rocks
    4. Folding and Faulting
    5. Volcanoes, earthquakes
    6. Interior of the earth
    7. Weathering
    8. Landforms formed by fluvial, aeolian and glacial actions
  2. Climatology
    1. Atmosphere – structure and composition
    2. Temperature
    3. Pressure belts of the Earth
    4. Wind systems
    5. Clouds and types of rainfall
    6. Cyclones and anti-cyclones
    7. Major climatic types
  3. Oceanography
    1. Ocean relief
    2. Temperature, salinity
    3. Ocean deposits
    4. Ocean currents
    5. El Nino and La Nina
    6. Waves and tides
  4. Biogeography
    1. Soil – origin and types
    2. Major biomes of the world
    3. Ecosystem, food chain
    4. Environmental degradation and conservation

Human Geography

  1. Man & environment; relationship, growth and development of human geography; determinism and possibilism
  2. Population, tribes, migration
  3. Economic activities – agriculture, manufacturing, industries, tertiary activities
  4. Settlements, urbanisation, functional classification of towns, million-cities and megacities

Location-based questions pertaining to India and the world are also asked in the prelims.

The UPSC Notification contains the syllabus of the Geography optional along with other subjects.

UPSC Mains Geography Syllabus

Geography is part of the GS paper I in the IAS mains exam. The syllabus for GS Geography is given below:

  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent; factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world including India
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
  • Salient features of the world’s physical geography (geomorphology, climatology, oceanography, biogeography and environmental geography)
    • Geomorphology – the interior of the earth, tectonics, physical phenomenon, mountain building, volcanoes, earthquakes, weathering & erosion, rocks, landforms
    • Climatology – atmosphere, temperature distribution, jet streams, pressure & wind systems, airmasses, fronts, cyclones, humidity, precipitation, geographical phenomenon, climatic regions of the world
    • Oceanography – ocean relief, temperature distribution, ocean currents, salinity, coral bleaching, marine pollution, sea level change, UN laws, etc.
    • Biography – soil profile, degradation, conservation), biotic regions, deforestation and conservation of forests, changes in critical geographical features, environmental pollution

There is a good overlap of the environment in some of the topics in geography. The Geography UPSC syllabus is quite comprehensive, as you can see from above. It is an important subject as far as the UPSC exam is concerned and every year, many questions are asked from the syllabus of geography for UPSC.

Geography Optional Syllabus for UPSC Mains

UPSC Geography Optional Syllabus PDF:-Download Syllabus PDF

The UPSC optional subject list contains 48 subjects in total, one of which is Geography. The optional syllabus for this subject has a huge overlap with General Studies. It is one of the most popular optional subjects in the Mains exam. The topics included in this subject are related to physical and human geography, economic geography and geography of India.

Candidates who choose Geography as an optional subject in UPSC often find the syllabus to be vast. Notwithstanding the large number of topics included in the syllabus, the subject is relatively easy to prepare due to the wide availability of study material and its popularity in the Mains exam. Apart from this, a large portion of the geography syllabus can be covered while preparing for General Studies.

In this article, we provide you with the detailed UPSC CSE syllabus for Geography optional and also the UPSC Geography Optional Syllabus PDF.

Geography Optional has 2 papers (paper I and paper II) in UPSC Mains. Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks. Find below the IAS Geography syllabus:

UPSC Syllabus Geography Optional Paper I:

Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam

UPSC Syllabus Geography Optional Paper II:

Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam Geography Syllabus for IAS Exam

Geography optional should be prepared thoroughly if one has chosen it for the UPSC Mains by studying the previous years’ papers and also going through relevant books on Geography for UPSC. Preparation should always incorporate mapping questions as it is a constant part of the question paper structure. IAS aspirants can integrate their preparation for Geography optional with preparation for General Studies in prelims and mains for guaranteed success.

UPSC Optional Geography Syllabus PDF:-Download Syllabus PDF

For more articles on UPSC Geography preparation, please visit:

Related Links:
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Tips for Geography Optional Optional Subjects that Overlap with General Studies Paper

UPSC Preparation Articles:

Civil Services Posts GS 1 Strategy, Structure & Syllabus
Geography Questions for UPSC Mains Topic-Wise GS 1 Questions for UPSC Mains
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