Geography Optional

Geography Optional


  1. How to prepare geography optional?

It is one of the most popular optional subjects among UPSC aspirants. It is mainly preferred by students with science or engineering background. Geography is a science subject that is why most students are attracted towards it. Also it is very interesting subjects and one can really enjoy the learning during the preparation time.

Given below are some strategies which can be used by the aspirants while preparing for geography optional for UPSC.

  1. Study the geography optional subject with a deeper understanding. Most of the syllabus of geography optional is covered in general studies paper 1. Around 100 questions are asked in the general studies paper 1 which you would have covered while preparing for the optional. Also geography syllabus also overlaps with the other subjects like economy and environment which in turns boosts your preparation for other subjects. This act as a major advantage for those who opt for geography optional subject. Hence you prepare for both the papers simultaneously for the exam.
  2. It is one of the most scoring subjects. Marks can be easily fetched by writing proper answers. Use flowcharts, diagrams, illustrations and maps to explain the answers. Many of the questions are the fact based so write down correct facts. So that there is no scope left for marks deduction by the examiner.
  3. Geography optional has various questions which are related to current affairs. To master this section a candidate need to develop a habit of reading newspaper on a daily basis. It is a must for them to stay updated with latest current affairs. Candidates can maintain a separate note book where he/she can jot down relevant current affairs for geography. These notes will be helpful for last minute preparation. Instead of referring to fat books these notes can be referred at a later stage. It will also be helpful for other subjects. Since reading newspaper is a necessary step which should be followed by every UPSC aspirant.
  4. In order to know what all are the most important topics of the syllabus, it is important to solve previous year question papers. This will help in preparation as you can plan your studies for the subject according to the most important topics which have been coming in the exam from last so many years. Also by solving past year papers you will get an idea as which all are the topics at which you are good and chances of scoring is more.
  5. One of the most important parts of geography optional is map making. Practice map making. You can do that by drawing maps region wise by using various reference books and then label it properly. This will help you to fetch good marks and chances of scoring good marks will be more. Do daily map practice by using previous year papers. It will improve the map making skills and then in final exam you can easily draw it. Also practice will make your speed faster so that you can attempt the map based questions in less time and utilize remaining time in solving other questions of the paper.
  6. There are many direct questions asked in the exam. While answering these questions make sure you write precise and neat answers. Present your answer in such a way as it seems appealing for the examiner. Draw maps where ever possible. Other questions are the open ended questions in which you have liberty to add any kind of positive or negative aspects related to the concept. Also cover all dimensions of the concept explaining the answer entirely. Also try to include both physical and human geography in your answers so to present human angle.
  7.  After preparing map based questions. Practice the diagrams related to all topics. Make a separate notebook which will include all the important diagrams. It is essential because there are a lot of diagrams in geography so at the end it will be tough if you don’t keep the diagrams at a single place.
  8. The syllabus of the geography is definite but at the same it is also lengthy and exhaustive. So inculcate a habit of self study. Cover all topics by studying them according to study plan. It is easy to understand subject. If studied properly than a candidate can easily score good marks.
  9. Study material for geography optional is easily available. A candidate can study be referring to various reference books. Study material can be utilized for understanding the basics and have conceptual clarity of the topic. Also variety of books makes it easier for the students to make notes for the final revision.
  10.  There is a lot of factual information of the topics of geography optional which makes it tough for the candidates to memorize the facts. In order to overcome this do revision of what you studied on a weekly and monthly basis. This will help you to absorb the syllabus in a better way. Also during final exam you will not face any hurdle while recalling the facts related to the answer of the question.




1. Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crusts; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Volcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology; Geomorphology, economic geology and environment.

2. 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 fronts; Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s Thornthwaite’s and Trewar Tha’s classification of world climate; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change, and role and response of man in climatic changes Applied climatology and Urban climate.

3. 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.

4. Biogeography: 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, agroforestry; Wildlife; Major gene pool centres.

5. Environmental Geography: Principle 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 :

1. 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.

2. 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: location patterns and problems; Patterns of world trade.

3. Population and Settlement Geography: Growth and distribution of world population; Demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; Concepts of the 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; Concept 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.

4. Regional Planning: Concept of a region; Types of regions and methods of regionalisation; Growth centres and growth poles; Regional imbalances; regional development strategies; environmental issues in regional planning; Planning for sustainable development.

5. 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; Perroux and Boudeville; Von Thunen’s model of agricultural location; Weber’s model of industrial location; Ostov’s model of stages of growth. Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.



1. 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.

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

3. Agriculture : 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 socio-economic and ecological implications; Significance of dry farming; Livestock resources and white revolution; Aqua-culture; Sericulture, Agriculture and poultry; Agricultural regionalisation; Agro-climatic zones; Agro-ecological regions.

4. Industry: Evolution of industries; Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminium, fertiliser, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage and ago-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector underkings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policy; Multinationals and liberalisation; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including ecotourism.

5. 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.

6. 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, work-force, dependency ratio, longevity; migration (inter-regional, interregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.

7. Settlements: 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 urbanisation and remedies.

8. 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 the backward area, desert, drought-prone, hill tribal area158 THE GAZETTE OF INDIA: EXTRAORDINARY [PART I—SEC. 1] development; Multi-level planning; Regional planning and development of island territories.

9. Political Aspects: Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganisation; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and inter-state 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.

10. Contemporary Issues: Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues related 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 Indian economy.

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