UPSC Mains Syllabus GS 1

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Welcome to ForumIAS, as a UPSC aspirant you might know the syllabus of UPSC but you might not know what topic has to be studied to clear the UPSC Exam? For Example, every aspirant knows the UPSC syllabus from History includes topics such as Ancient History, Medieval History, Modern History, and Art and Architecture. But not every aspirant knows what are the sub-topics to cover within the above-mentioned topics.

This post clearly segregated all the sub-topics listed in the UPSC Syllabus. So that an aspirant who read the article can cover the topic and sub-topics completely, and those aspirants who already completed the topics can measure whether they covered all the sub-topics completely or any other portion has been left out during their preparation.

Why Sub-topics are important?

Breaking up of UPSC syllabus is one of the crucial steps to make one’s preparation wholesome. Without simplification of topics the UPSC preparation is incomplete. A quote by Martin H. Fischer – (a notable physician) sums it up clearly.

“Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification”

Based on the above saying one can derive the UPSC preparation is a process of piling up facts but to get wisdom (Clear the UPSC exam) breaking up of the UPSC syllabus is the key to success.

Breaking of the UPSC syllabus will provide many advantages like,

  • An aspirant can have a clear roadmap as to how many topics s/he has covered, and to what extent.
  • The sub-topic list will ensure that what all to be covered under a topic to complete the topic.
  • The sub-topics helps in segregation of current affair article and it will come in handy during the last-minute revisions.
  • The sub-topic classification can help candidates to avoid reading unnecessary topics or jumbling up of topics.

Topics and sub-topic list for UPSC Syllabus:

The General studies part of the UPSC syllabus cover various domain such as History, Polity, Economy, Geography, Environment, Science and Technology, International Relations and Current events.

In the General Studies Paper-I, the IAS syllabus covers the topics such as INDIAN HERITAGE AND CULTURE, HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD AND SOCIETY.

UPSC Syllabus for Genral Studies Paper – I


  • Art & Culture: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern History: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues. The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-Independence: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • World History: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.
  • Indian Society: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  • Physical Geography: Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Human and Economic Geography: 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).
  • Geophysical Phenomena: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone 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.

Important topics and sub-topics in Indian Heritage and Culture

Important topicsSub-topics under each topic
Indian Philosophy·         Philosophy of Buddhism and Jainism

·         Philosophies associated with religions (Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism etc)

·         Other Philosophies (Nyaya, Samkhya, Vaisheshika, Yoga, Purva  mimamasa, Vedanta, Carvaka etc)

Indian Literature·         Religious Literature (Vedic, Buddhism, Jainism, Bhakti & Sufi movement etc)

·         Non-religious literature (Social, Political, Economic, Sangam literature, etc)

·         Ancient and Medieval sources (Archaeological and Foreigners literary works)

Note: Archaeological literature includes Inscriptions/Epigraphs, Numismatics/coins.

·         Other literary works (Aaranyakas, Upanishads, Puranas etc)

·         Literary works during freedom struggle

Architecture·         Cave architecture

·         School of art (Amaravati, Gandhara and Mathura school)

·         Temple architecture

·         Indo-Islamic architecture

·         Modern architecture

Temple Architecture·         Basics of Temple architecture (Mandapa, Shikara, Gharbhgriha, gopuram, Vimana etc)

·         Various styles of temple architecture (Nagara, Vesara and Dravida)

Indo-Islamic Art and Architecture·         Imperial art and Architecture (Sultanate and Mughal, Vijayanagar and Bahmani)

·         Provincial art and architecture (Regional architecture from Jaipur, Jaunpur, Bijapur, Malwa, Kashmir, etc)

Modern Art and Architecture·         Indo-gothic and Neo-Roman Architecture

·         Mural, Miniature and wall paintings

·         Modern painters and techniques etc

Performing Art·         Indian Dance forms

·         Indian Music (Carnatic and Hindustani Music)

·         Indian Theatre arts

·         Indian Puppetry

·         Indian Martial arts

Religious Movements in India·         Jainism

·         Buddhism

·         Brahmanism

·         Bhakti and Sufi Movements

·         Sikh religious movement etc

Other sub-topics in art and Architecture·         Languages and their development

·         Indian Calendar

·         Indian sculptures and pottery

·         Contribution of Indians in various fields (Science, art, music, astronomy, Medicine, etc)

·         Indian Fairs and Festivals

·         Cultural institutions in India etc


Important topics and sub-topics for Modern History and Post- Independent India:

Important topicsSub-topics under each topic
History from the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues


·         India in the Late 18th century

·         The advent of Europeans and British Conquest in India

·         India under East India Company

·         The revolt of 1858 and the administrative changes after that

·         Political Organizations (Prior to INC and after INC and INC)

·         Revolutionary organisations

·         Freedom struggle under Moderate, Extremist and Gandhian phase

·         India and Neighbourhood relations

·         Socio-Religious movements in India (19th and 20th Century)

·         Personalities and their contribution to India’s freedom struggle (Gandhi, Nehru, SC Bose, etc)

Important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country·         Peasants and Tribal Movements in India

·         Regional movements in various part of India, Princely States

Others topics·         Reforms in various fields under East India Company administration and British administration (Police, education, social, economic, etc)
Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country·         Immediate development in India after Independence

·         Consolidation of India after Independence (Territorial, Reorganisation of Indian States and Various policy initiatives like Tribal policy, Policy followed in North-East etc)

·         India under Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi etc.


Important Topics and Sub-topics in World History:

Important topicsSub-topics under each topic
Various events from the 18th Century to till date·         Industrial Revolution

·         American Revolution

·         French Revolution

·         Unification of Italy and Germany

·         Russian Revolution

·         Japanese Revolution

·         Colonization and De-colonization in various parts around the world and its effects

·         Chinese revolution

·         World wars and the redrawal of national boundaries

·         Cold war phase, NAM and the philosophical rivalry

·         Disintegration of USSR and its aftermath etc

·         Other Regional challenges like Apartheid, Israel-Palestine conflicts etc

Political philosophies and their forms and effect on the society.·         Capitalism

·         Communism

·         Nazism

·         Fascism

·         Socialism etc


Important Topics and Sub-topics in Indian Society:

Important topicsSub-topics under each topic
Salient features of Indian Society·         Caste system in India and its dynamics

·         Sanskritization, Westernisation and Modernisation

·         Kinship, Marriage and Family

·         Class development (Middle Class)

Diversity of India·         Unity in Diversity

·         Types of Diversity exist in India (Religious, Caste, Race, Ethnicity, etc)

·         Globalisation and Diversity

·         Factors contributing to Unity amidst Diversity

·         Challenges associated with Diversity

Role of women and women’s organization·         Origin and evolution of Women Organizations in India

·         Various women organizations existed in India since freedom struggle

·         Challenges faced by women/ women organizations

·         Government initiatives to encourage women / women organizations and the reason behind the same

·         Women in various fields (agriculture, Industry, education, labour market, science and technology, etc)

·         Role of men in development of women/women organizations

Population and associated issues·         Population growth and distribution in India

·         Demographic dividend and demographic curse and its challenges

·         Population and other issues such as poverty, Employment, environment, resources, women empowerment etc

·         Population control policies and their impact on population since independence.

·         Other challenges associated with Population like Missing women, family planning etc

Poverty and developmental issues·         Poverty and various types of poverty and their measurements

·         Causes and consequences of poverty in India

·         Vicious cycle of poverty and Hunger

·         Poverty in rural and urban areas, poverty and women etc and its impacts

·         Role of non-state actors in alleviating poverty and hunger

·         Role of government in Poverty alleviation (evolution and impacts of policies, committees, schemes, Acts etc)

Urbanization, their problems and their remedies·         Urbanization and its evolution, causes and concentration in India

·         Problems and opportunities due to Urbanization

·         Migration and its impacts like pollution, urban crimes, congestion, waste generation, transport etc.

·         Slum and Squatter settlements

·         Urbanization and urban planning in India

·         Urban out growth and its impact, terms associated like satellite cities etc

·         Urbanization and feminisation of agriculture

·         Urbanization and Industrialization and Globalization etc

·         Government initiatives to equitable urban growth (evolution and impacts of policies, committees, schemes, Acts etc)

Effects of globalization on Indian society·         Globalization and its impacts such as economic, social, environmental etc

·         impact of globalization on family level, cultural level, among various sections like women, children, elderly etc.

·          Impact of globalization on general values, ideas and lifestyle of Indian society

Social empowerment·         Concept, need, evolution and various models of social empowerment

·         Difference between social empowerment and Political, economic empowerment

·         Role of non-state actors in social empowerment

·         Various government initiatives to different sections of society like tribal, women, social and culturally backward sections of people etc.

Communalism, regionalism & secularismCommunalism

·         Meaning, type, evolution of Communalism

·         Reason for prevalence of communalism

·         Impact of communalism

·         Role of State and non-state actors in reducing Communalism


·         Meaning, type, evolution, son of soil concept of Regionalism

·         Various regional movements in India since Independence and their impacts like Dravida Nadu movement, Khalistan movement, Telangana movement, Movements in North east etc.

·         Regionalism and Nationalism

·         Regionalism and Federalism

·         Regionalism, Extremism and Separatism differences and concepts

·         Impact of regionalism in International arena

·         Constitutional protections against regionalism and government initiatives to strengthen cooperative federalism


·         Concepts and sources of Indian secularism

·         Difference between Indian and western Secularism

·         Secularism and Communalism

·         Factors threatening secularism and the way ahead

Important Topics and Sub-topics in Geography:

Important topicsSub-topics under each topic
Physical GeographyPhysical Geography of world

·         Solar system and the basics of Earth

·         Geomorphology (Earth’s interior, rock classification, External and Internal forces, Various orders of land form development)

·         Climatology (Structure, composition, atmosphere, weather and climate, pressure belts, winds, jet streams, precipitation, world climatic regions)

·         Oceanography (Ocean waves, tides, currents, tsunamis, temperature and salinity etc)

·         Bio geography (Soils, classification, distribution, erosion and conversion)

·         Continents and their evolutions


Physical Geography of India

·         Location, area and boundary of India

·         Structure and Relief: Physiographic Divisions

·         Weather, Climate and Seasons

·         Bio geography of India

·         Natural Vegetation, Plant and Animal Life

Human and Economic GeographyHuman and Economic Geography of World

·         Primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary and quinary activities

·         Human Geography of world

·         World Population, Distribution & Density, Races & Tribes, Settlement & Migration


Human and Economic Geography of India

·         Agriculture and Agro-Climatic Regions

·         Land Resources

·         Water Resources

·         Mineral and Energy Resources

·         Industries

·         Transport and Communication

·         Population, Migration, Settlements


General topics

·         Natural resources and mineral resources and distribution of key natural resources

·         Agriculture and agro-climatic regions

·         Industry and location factors

·         Map based questions

Geophysical Phenomena·         Earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

·         Geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and their location-changes and flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

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