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- Ancient India, Medieval India, and Modern History. For UPSC 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 candidates not only in General Studies Paper 1 but also for in 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. 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 in General Studies Mains/World History syllabus for UPSC mains

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:

  • American Revolution
  • Russian Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Imperialism
  • Nazism
  • Fascism
  • Unification of Italy
  • Unification of Germany
  • Bi-Polar World and Cold War
  • Uni-Polar World
  • Disintegration of USSR

Important Books and Online Study Materials for World History for UPSC Mains/best book for world history for UPSC/World History book for UPSC:

  • 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

World history previous year questions UPSC/World History questions in UPSC mains:


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


  1. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.
  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. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?


  1. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.
  2. 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?


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


  1. What problems are germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula?

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