Study World History for UPSC Civil Services Mains

History is an important subject in UPSC Civil Service Prelims and Mains exam. For Prelims examination, History is divided into three sections – Ancient India, Medieval India and Modern History. For Civil Services Mains Examination, World History is also there in UPSC Mains syllabus.  The events from the 18th century are included in this portion for General Studies paper. To tackle this portion, aspirants should have a thorough knowledge of World History. If the candidates have a thorough understanding of World history, it will help them not only in General Studies Paper 1 but also for the General Studies Paper 2.

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UPSC never asks minuscule details from World History in General Studies Paper 1. It demands a more generalist approach compared to Indian History. Aspirants should not focus too much on facts and figures. They should try to develop an analytical approach to tackling World History. One should learn World History through a neutral lens as well, they should remember that there is no black and white, but merely shades of grey.  Aspirants should analyse the causes and results of every event. The questions asked for UPSC Mains exam may not be direct. So without a thorough understanding of the basics of world history, UPSC aspirants may fail to answer the questions.

Read more |How to study history for UPSC

UPSC Syllabus for World History

We have already come up with UPSC syllabus for Mains examination. Here we are giving the UPSC syllabus for World History in General Studies Mains. World History will include events from the 18th century such as:

  • Industrial revolution
  • Colonization
  • Decolonization
  • World wars
  • Redraw of national boundaries
  • Political philosophies such as capitalism, socialism, communism, etc. – their forms and consequences on society.

Important areas to focus on World History for UPSC Mains/Important world history topics for UPSC exam:

World History Books for UPSC Mains

Important Books and Online Study Materials for World History for UPSC Mains:

  • NCERT Books for History (History: NCERT Class XI – Themes In World History is the recommended World History NCERT for UPSC)
  • Mastering Modern World History – Norman Lowe
  • History of Modern World – BV Rao
  • History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur
  • Online Study Materials of BYJU’S

Some important world history-related topics linked below:

Industrial Revolution Colonialism
Cocacolonization Difference between Colonialism and Imperialism
Decolonisation World War-I
World War-II Difference Between Capitalism, Communalism and Socialism
Difference between Marxism and Communism Cold War Confrontation

World History Questions in UPSC Mains

World history previous year questions for UPSC Mains are listed down below:


There was no question from the World History segment of UPSC Mains GS 1 in 2020. Download UPSC Mains Question Papers from the linked article.


  1. Explain how the foundation of the modern world was laid by the American and French Revolutions.


  1. The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine.


  1. Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present?
  2. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically


  1. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?
  2. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?
  3. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.

If you are practising answer writing for mains examination, take help from World History notes of the related topics asked in 2014, linked below:

New Economic Policy 1921
Joseph Stalin
Suez Crisis


  1. “Latecomer” Industrial revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what west had experienced.
  2. Africa was chopped into states artificially created by the accident of European competition. Analyse.
  3. American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism. Substantiate.
  4. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the great economic depression?

Learn about the Great Depression from the linked article.

To understand the UPSC Mains GS 1 Syllabus, Strategy and Structure, visit the linked article now.

Related links:

UPSC Calendar 2022 UPSC Books
UPSC 2022 UPSC Notes
Modern History notes for UPSC UPSC Question Papers
NCERT Notes For UPSC UPSC Syllabus
IAS Toppers UPSC Current Affairs


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