[Note: This paper is for those candidates who have opted for geography as their optional subject in the main exam of UPSC.]
Geography as such was a term that was coined by the Greeks. The study of the Earth’s elements, the different kind of land distribution, seasons, climatic changes, water bodies, the atmosphere, different countries and their physical topographies, soil, forests and all the resources we see around us in our environment.
Study of geography deals with
- Detailed study of maps.
- Variations in human races and population.
- Different landform on earth.
- Interactions between ecosystems.
- Distribution of human population
- Physical features of earth and ecosystem.
- Resource distribution and utilization, and many more related areas.
Geography as an optional paper in UPSC mains exam
- There are two papers in the main exam, paper 1 and paper 2. Each paper is for duration of 3 hours. Each paper carries 250 marks.
- Paper 1 commonly deals with the theories, concepts and principles of geography. This is a subjective paper.
- Paper 2 completely deals with geography of India in particular.
- Subject is quite vast. Questions could be framed from any corner of the syllabus.
- The subject has lot of topics in depth and detail. The more you explore, the more you get. Plan properly and develop an idea of what you need to put your focus on.
- Linking and co relation of almost every topic you study is a must in this paper. You can achieve this only by practise and revision. You can’t directly read though points given in the book and put them on paper. Various related points in different places need to be combined together to form a complete answer.
- Detailed study plus instant recognition and identification of maps is a must in geography in the main exam.
- Prepare a list of books apart from the main books that you should refer and stick to that list.
- Structure your answers properly as the subject can have too many important points under a single heading.
- Draw diagrams wherever necessary, they add value to your answers. Label them appropriately.
- You should know the Indian map in great detail. It is a must.
- Try to find a co-relation between various topics. For example, if you are making notes about a major port in India, be sure to add in all those points that may be covered in some other context too. You may link resource availability with land topography etc.
- Do not miss studying from NCERT books.
- Apart from studying from the prescribed syllabus, it helps to maintain a separate book of glossary words. Write down all important terms that you come across, as geography is a subject that has plenty of such important terms to remember.
- Identify what to read and most importantly, what not to read for the exam.
- You don’t have to study everything under a topic. Analyze whats relevant and necessary and find a connection, if any with related topics.
Why opt for geography as an optional subject?
- Geography is not entirely a dry subject; it has aspects of science which make it a very interesting subject.
- Lot of good reference materials available in the market as well as on the internet to refer for both papers.
- You can find a lot of topics in the essay section appearing from geography alone.
- While attempting previous papers, you will come across this subject as highly scoring.
- You can find a lot of direct questions in the paper. Keep in mind to write in detail.
- A good analytical approach is what it takes to clear the exam.
- A lot of connectivity between topics and redundant data/keywords.
Points to remember
- Illustrate your answers with map drawings wherever applicable.
- Stick to the word limit prescribed for particular questions. Do not exceed beyond the word limit mentioned.
- Geography is full of keywords; try to underline important terms and words.
- For open ended questions, be sure to write valid points. Make sure all your points are subject-specific and related to the core knowledge of geography.
- Do not write wrong facts. They could make a lot of difference in your answers.
- Point to point accuracy in your answers to be maintained. Do not guess vague facts.
Books for reference
- Physical geography by Savindra Singh.
- Human Geography by Majid Hussain.
- Indian Geography by Khullar.
- Oxford Atlas.
- Geographic theories by Majid Hussain.
UPSC Geography Mains Syllabus explain in detail
PAPER – I
PRINCIPLES OF GEOGRAPHY
1. Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crust; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior; Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Vulcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development ; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology : Geohydrology, 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 frontogenesis, Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s, Thornthwaite’s and Trewartha’s classification of world climates; 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; agro-forestry; Wildlife; Major gene pool centers.
5. Environmental Geography: Principle of 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; The Environmental hazards and remedial measures; Environmental education and legislation.
1. Perspectives in Human Geography: Areal differentiation; regional synthesis; Dichotomy and dualism; Environmentalism; Quantitative revolution and locational analysis; radical, behavioral, human and welfare approaches; Languages, spirituality, 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: typology of agricultural regions; agricultural inputs and productivity; Food and nutrition problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects and remedies; World industries: locational 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: Concepts 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 regionalization; Growth centers 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: Systems 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; Ostrov’s model of stages of growth. Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.
UPSC Mains Geography Syllabus PAPER – II
GEOGRAPHY OF INDIA
1. Physical Setting: Space relationship of India with neighboring 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: land holdings, 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; aquaculture; sericulture, apiculture 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, fertilizer, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage and agro-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector undertakings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policies; Multinationals and liberalization; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including eco-tourism.
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, intraregional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.
7. Settlements: Types, patterns, and morphology of rural settlements; Urban development’s; Morphology of Indian cities; Functional classification of Indian cities; Conurbations and metropolitan regions; urban sprawl; Slums and associated problems; town planning; Problems of urbanization and remedies.
8. Regional Development and Planning: Experience of regional planning in India; Five Year Plans; Integrated rural development programmes; Panchayati Raj and decentralized planning; Command area development; Watershed management; Planning for backward area, desert, drought-prone, hill, tribal area development; multi-level planning; Regional planning and development of island territories.
9. Political Aspects: the Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganization; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and interstate issues; 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 relating 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.