UPSC History Syllabus IAS Mains (General Studies) Optional Paper

UPSC History General Studies Syllabus

  • Indian Culture: Salient features of Literature, Art Forms, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian History: Significant events, personalities and issues during the middle of the eighteenth century until the present.
  • Indian Freedom Struggle: Stages, important contributors and contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization in the country.
  • History of the World: Events, forms and effect on the society from 18th century like world wars, industrial revolution, colonization, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.

UPSC History Syllabus for Paper I

  1. History Syllabus For UPSC – Sources
  • Archaeological sources: Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments Literary sources
  • Indigenous: Primary and secondary
  • Poetry, scientific literature, literature, literature in regional languages
  • Religious literature. Foreign accounts: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers.
  1. Pre-history and Proto-history

Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic); Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic).

  1. Indus Valley Civilization: Origin, date, extent, characteristics, decline, survival and significance, art and architecture.
  2. Megalithic Culture: Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry.
  3. Aryans and Vedic Period:
  • Expansions of Aryans in India.
  • Vedic Period: Religious and philosophic literature
  • Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period
  • Political, social and economical life
  • Significance of the Vedic Age
  • Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.
  1. UPSC History Syllabus – Period of Mahajanapadas:
  • Formation of States (Mahajanapada) : Republics and monarchies
  • Rise of urban centres
  • Trade routes
  • Economic growth
  • Introduction of coinage
  • Spread of Jainism and Buddhism
  • Rise of Magadha and Nandas.
  • Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.
  1. Mauryan Empire:
  • Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthashastra
  • Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration
  • Economy; Art, architecture and sculpture; External contacts
  • Religion; Spread of religion; Literature.
  • Disintegration of the empire; Sungas and Kanvas.
  1. Post – Mauryan Period (Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas):Contact with outside world; growth of urban centres, economy, coinage, development of religions, Mahayana, social conditions, art, architecture, culture, literature and science.
  2. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India: Kharavela, The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age; Administration, economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds and urban centres; Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture.
  1. UPSC History Syllabus – Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas:
  • Polity and administration, Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants
  • Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women, Education and educational institutions
  • Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture.

11.Regional States during Gupta Era:

  • The Kadambas,Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami
  • Polity and Administration, Trade guilds, Literature
  • growth of Vaishnava and Saiva religions.
  • Tamil Bhakti movement, Shankaracharya
  • Vedanta; Institutions of temple and temple architecture
  • Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Polity and administration
  • Cultural aspects. Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni, The Chalukyas of Kalyana
  1. History Syllabus For UPSC – Themes in Early Indian Cultural History: Languages and texts, major stages in the evolution of art and architecture, major philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics.
  2. Early Medieval India, 750-1200:
  • Polity: Major political developments in Northern India and the Peninsula, origin and the rise of Rajputs
  • The Cholas: administration, village economy and society – “Indian Feudalism” – Agrarian economy and urban settlements
  • Trade and commerce – Society: the status of the Brahman and the new social order – Condition of women – Indian science and technology
  1. Cultural Traditions in India, 750- 1200: – Philosophy
  • Skankaracharya and Vedanta, Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita, Madhva and BrahmaMimansa
  • Religion: Forms and features of religion, literature, literature in the newly developing languages, Kalhan’sRajtarangini, Alberuni’s India
  • Art and Architecture: Temple architecture, sculpture, painting
  1. UPSC History Syllabus – The Thirteenth Century: Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate: The Ghurian invasions – factors behind Ghurian success – Economic, social and cultural consequences – Foundation of Delhi Sultanate and early Turkish Sultans – Consolidation: The rule of Iltutmish and Balban
  1. The Fourteenth Century: The Khalji Revolution” – AlauddinKhalji: Conquests and territorial expansion, agrarian and economic measures – Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq – FiruzTughluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts and Ibn Battuta’s account
  2. The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and Culture: Regional cultural specificities – Literary traditions – Provincial architecture – Society, culture, literature and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire.
  3. UPSC History Optional Syllabus – Akbar: Conquests and consolidation of the Empire – Establishment of Jagir and Mansab systems – Rajput policy – Evolution of religious and social outlook, theory of Sulh-i-kul and religious policy – Court patronage of art and technology
  4. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century:Major administrative policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb – The Empire and the Zamindars – Religious policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb – Nature of the Mughal State – Late Seventeenth century crisis and the revolts – The Ahom Kingdom – Shivaji and the early Maratha Kingdom.
  5. UPSC History Syllabus-Economy and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries:
  • Population, agricultural production, craft production – Town
  • Commerce with Europe through Dutch, English and French companies
  • A trade revolution – Indian mercantile classes, banking, insurance and credit systems
  • Condition of peasants, condition of women – Evolution of the Sikh community and the KhalsaPanth
  1. Culture in the Mughal Empire: Persian histories and other literature – Hindi and other religious literature – Mughal architecture – Mughal painting – Provincial architecture and painting – Classical music – Science and technology
  2. The Eighteenth Century: Factors for the decline of the Mughal Empire – The regional principalities: Nizam’s Deccan, Bengal, Awadh – Maratha ascendancy under the Peshwas – The Maratha fiscal and financial system – Emergence of Afghan Power, Battle of Panipat:1761 – State of politics, culture and economy on the eve of the British conquest
  1. History Syllabus For UPSC – European Penetration into India:
  • The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch
  • The English and the French East India Companies
  • Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars
  • Bengal -The conflict between the English and the Nawabs of Bengal
  • Siraj and the English; The Battle of Plassey; Significance of Plassey.
  1. British Expansion in India: Bengal – Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar; Mysore; The Marathas; The three Anglo-Maratha Wars; The Punjab.
  2. Early Structure of the British Raj: The early administrative structure; From diarchy to direct control; The Regulating Act (1773); The Pitt’s India Act (1784); The Charter Act (1833); The voice of free trade and the changing character of British colonial rule; The English utilitarian and India.
  3. UPSC History Syllabus – Social and Cultural Developments:
  • The state of indigenous education, its dislocation
  • Orientalist-Anglicist controversy, The introduction of western education in India
  • The rise of press, literature and public opinion
  • The rise of modern vernacular literature
  • Progress of science; Christian missionary activities in India.
  1. Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas:
  • Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore
  • IswarchandraVidyasagar; The Young Bengal Movement
  • DayanadaSaraswati; The social reform movements in India including Sati, widow remarriage, child marriage etc.
  • The contribution of Indian renaissance to the growth of modern India
  • Islamic revivalism – the Feraizi and Wahabi Movements.
  • Indian Response to British Rule:
  • Peasant movements and tribal uprisings in the 18th and Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism
  • Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress
  • The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress
  • Programme and objectives of Early Congress
  • The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal
  • The economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement
  • The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India.
  1. UPSC History Syllabus- Consolidation as a Nation: Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganisation of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.
  2. Enlightenment and Modern ideas: (i) Major ideas of Enlightenment: Kant, Rousseau (ii) Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies (iii) Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism.
  1. Origins of Modern Politics – (i) European States System. (ii) American Revolution and the Constitution. (iii) French revolution and aftermath, 1789-1815. (iv) American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. (v) British Democratic Politics, 1815- 1850; Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists.
  2. Industrialization: (i) English Industrial Revolution: Causes and Impact on Society (ii) Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan (iii) Industrialization and Globalization.
  3. Nation-State System: (i) Rise of Nationalism in 19th century (ii) Nationalism: state-building in Germany and Italy (iii) Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the world.

12 UPSC History Syllabus – Revolution and Counter Revolution: (i) 19th Century European revolutions (ii) The Russian Revolution of 1917-1921 (iii) Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany. (iv) The Chinese Revolution of 1949

  1. History Syllabus For UPSC – World Wars: (i) 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications (ii) World War I: Causes and consequences (iii) World War II: Causes and consequence

14.The World after World War II: (i) Emergence of two power blocs (ii) Emergence of Third World and non-alignment (iii) UNO and the global disputes.

  1. Liberation from Colonial Rule: (i) Latin America-Bolivar (ii) Arab World-Egypt (iii) Africa-Apartheid to Democracy (iv) South-East Asia-Vietnam
  2. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World: (i) Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991 (ii) Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001. (iii) End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.

UPSC History books for CSE Mains

Candidates can also start their preparation through below listed books for history for the UPSC civil services mains (General Studies I)

  • India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
  • Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum
  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma
  • Themes of History II (NCERT Textbook of Standard XII)
  • NCERT books for history
  • Indian Art and Culture – NitinSinghania
  • India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra
  • Mastering Modern World History – Norman Lowe
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