UPSC History Syllabus for IAS Mains 2022 Exam

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : October 3rd, 2022

History Syllabus for UPSC is included in Prelims, GS Paper 1 of the UPSC Mains exam, as well as in the optional subject. There are 48 optional subjects in the UPSC Mains exam, and history is highly preferred due to its relevancy in UPSC Mains, and prelims exams. The History Syllabus for UPSC is widely divided into modern, ancient Indian history, medieval and world history is included in UPSC history optional syllabus, which makes it vast.

The history syllabus for UPSC has to be covered strategically to get the optimum benefit from preparation. Download the history syllabus for UPSC PDF and check the detailed topics to be covered in prelims, UPSC mains, and optional syllabus. 

Table of Content

History Syllabus for UPSC IAS Mains

History Syllabus is a part of all the stages of the UPSC exam and the questions will be asked in UPSC prelims and Mains. Additionally, candidates can also opt for it as an optional subject. Every year 10-15 questions are asked in GS paper 1 from the history syllabus for UPSC. If a candidate is updated with the dates, places, and events then it is an easy subject. Unlike other GS papers, it doesn’t contain any concepts or theories. 

  • Prelims exam includes topics from ancient, medieval, and modern history
  • IAS Mains exam consists of a history syllabus in GS Paper 1. 
  • History is also one of the most opted optional subjects in the UPSC exam.

Just like other optional subjects, there are two papers in the History Syllabus for UPSC, Paper 1 and Paper 2. Each paper holds 250 marks, which makes it a total of 500 marks. Simply the UPSC history optional syllabus can be divided into four parts as mentioned below.


History Syllabus for UPSC Paper 1 - optional 

  • Ancient History Syllabus for UPSC
  • Medieval History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC Paper 2 optional 

  • Modern History Syllabus for UPSC
  • World History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC Prelims

A large part of the UPSC history optional syllabus overlaps with GS Paper 1 of UPSC Prelims syllabus. Around 17-22 % of questions will be asked from the history syllabus for UPSC prelims. According to the trend, questions coming from the history syllabus for UPSC prelims will have a difficulty level of moderate to tough. To score well in the Prelims GS paper 1, candidates need to complete the NCERT books, and cover topics from ancient history, Medieval India, and Modern India properly.

UPSC History Optional Syllabus 

It is recommended to understand the UPSC history optional syllabus completely before beginning the preparation. As the paper carries 500 marks, it brings a great opportunity to the candidates to score well to enhance their chances of qualifying for the mains exam. Below we have covered the whole history syllabus for UPSC.

World History Syllabus for UPSC

As its name implies, the world history syllabus for UPSC contains topics from world history events such as world war, Europe unification and more. Topics included under the world history syllabus for UPSC are:

  • Enlightenment and Modern ideas:
  • Origins of Modern Politics 
  • Industrialization 
  • Nation‐State System
  • Imperialism and Colonialism
  •  Revolution and Counter‐Revolution 
  • World Wars 
  • The World after World War II
  • Liberation from Colonial Rule 
  • Decolonization and Underdevelopment 
  • Unification of Europe
  •  Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World

Modern History Syllabus for UPSC

The modern history syllabus for UPSC covers the history of the world beginning after the middle ages. The word “modern” refers to the beginning of the industrial revolution. Topics included under the modern history syllabus for UPSC are:

  • European Penetration into India:
  • British Expansion in India:
  • Early Structure of the British Raj
  • Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule:
  • Social and Cultural Developments:
  • Social and Religious Reform Movements in Bengal and Other Areas
  • Indian Response to British Rule
  • Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism
  • Rise of Gandh
  •  Constitutional Developments in Colonial India between 1858 and 1935i
  • Other strands in the National Movement.
  • Politics of Separatism
  • Consolidation as a Nation
  • Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  • Economic development and political change

Medieval History Syllabus for UPSC

Medieval history syllabus for UPSC contains topics of the events that took place in the “middle ages”. Topics under this syllabus include

  • Early Medieval India, 750‐1200
  • Cultural Traditions in India, 750‐1200:
  • The Thirteenth Century
  • The Fourteenth Century:
  • Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
  • The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century‐Political Developments and Economy
  • The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century‐ Society and culture
  • Akbar
  • Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century:
  • Economy and society, in the 16th and 17th Centuries:
  • Culture during Mughal Empire
  • The Eighteenth Century

Ancient History Syllabus for UPSC

The ancient history syllabus for UPSC contains the history of the ancient civilizations such as:

  • Sources
  • Pre‐history and Proto‐history
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Megalithic Cultures
  • Aryans and Vedic Period
  • Period of Mahajanapadas
  • Mauryan Empire 
  • Post‐Mauryan Period (Indo‐Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas)
  • Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India
  • Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
  • Regional States during Gupta Era
  • Themes in Early Indian Cultural History

UPSC History Optional Syllabus PDF Download

Candidates who want to download the history syllabus for UPSC for optional can visit the official website of UPSC. But below we have provided a direct link to download the history syllabus to make the process smoother for candidates.

UPSC History Optional Syllabus- Paper 1 

There are 24 topics covered in paper-1 of the UPSC history optional syllabus and those topics are further divided into sub-topics.

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC

UPSC History Optional Syllabus- Paper 2

In Paper 2 of the UPSC history optional syllabus, there will be 27 main topics, and those are segmented into various sub-topics. 

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSCHistory Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC

History Syllabus for UPSC - Optional vs Mains

The history syllabus for UPSC mains is included in the GS-1, and it included modern history, world history and Art & Culture. On the other hand, history is available as an optional subject among the 48 optional. The UPSC history optional syllabus contains a wide range of topics that we have mentioned above. So the candidates who have chosen history as their optional subject would get the extra advantage as the questions from the history subject will be asked in both UPSC prelims and mains exam.

History Syllabus for UPSC: Preparation Strategy

Candidates need to take a strategic approach to complete the UPSC history optional syllabus on time. As we have mentioned above the history syllabus is vast, and the following strategy would ensure that you finish the history syllabus for UPSC constructively.

  • Make your foundation strong- NCERTs of classes VII-XII are a must while dealing with the history syllabus for UPSC. after completing these books, you can further develop your understanding by reading other books. 
  • Cover the syllabus wisely- it is essential to finish the events in the UPSC history optional syllabus sequentially. Stick with a systematic approach when preparing because the syllabus is vast. If you are done with the history syllabus of UPSC Mains, then it would give you an extra advantage for sure as some portion of the optional syllabus can be found there.
  • Glance through previous year’s questions- checking the previous year's questions from the history syllabus for UPSC would help you to understand the exam pattern, and question structure, and you can figure out an effective strategy. 
  • Mock Tests- After being done with the UPSC history optional syllabus, it is about time to take your preparation to the next level with mock tests. Attempt as many as mock tests possible to analyze your mistakes and assess your preparation. 

History Syllabus for UPSC - Booklist

Below we have provided a booklist according to the UPSC history optional syllabus. These books will surely help you to enhance your preparation, and score good numbers in exams.

  • NCERTs (Class VIII to XII)
  • NIOS/IGNOU Notes
  • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
  • India's Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • India's Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma
  • History of Medieval India: From 647 A.D. to the Mughal Conquest by Satish Chandra
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

 

List of UPSC Optional Subjects Syllabus
UPSC Agriculture SyllabusUPSC Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Syllabus
UPSC Anthropology SyllabusUPSC Botany Syllabus
UPSC Chemistry SyllabusUPSC Civil Engineering Syllabus
UPSC Commerce and Accountancy SyllabusUPSC Economics Syllabus
UPSC Electrical Engineering SyllabusUPSC English Literature Syllabus
UPSC Geography Syllabus UPSC Geology Syllabus
UPSC Hindi Literature SyllabusUPSC CSAT Syllabus
UPSC Law SyllabusUPSC Management Syllabus
UPSC Maths Optional SyllabusUPSC Mechanical Engineering Syllabus
UPSC Medical Science SyllabusUPSC Philosophy Syllabus
UPSC Physics SyllabusUPSC Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) Optional Syllabus
UPSC Psychology SyllabusUPSC Public Administration Syllabus
UPSC Science and Technology SyllabusUPSC Sociology Optional Syllabus
UPSC Statistics SyllabusUPSC Zoology Syllabus

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UPSC History Syllabus FAQs

  • The UPSC history syllabus for UPSC is a part of both UPSC prelims and UPSC mains syllabus. Also, history is a part of the optional subject in the UPSC mains exam, and covers a wide range of topics on Ancient History, Medieval History Syllabus for UPSC, Modern History Syllabus, and World History. 

  • With a good strategy, and systematic approach you can cover the history syllabus for UPSC in 6 months. We have mentioned an effective strategy above in this post which you can follow. It will also help you while covering the history section in the UPSC mains syllabus.

  • NCERT books are enough while covering the UPSC prelims syllabus. However, when it comes to the UPSC history optional syllabus, candidates need to be dependent on advanced history books.

  • The history syllabus for UPSC can be divided into four major parts such as 

    • Ancient History Syllabus for UPSC
    • Medieval History Syllabus for UPSC
    • Modern History Syllabus for UPSC
    • World History Syllabus for UPSC
  • The world history section is covered in the UPSC mains syllabus, whereas it is not mentioned in the prelims history syllabus for UPSC. Additionally, the questions asked in the prelims exam will be MCQs, on the other hand, questions in the mains exam will be descriptive in nature.

  • Yes, world history is a part of the UPSC syllabus, and this section talks about topics related to world history. A huge section of world history can also be seen in the UPSC history optional syllabus.

  • No, the ancient history can also be found in the UPSC mains syllabus apart from the UPSC prelims history syllabus. So having a good grip over ancient history will be highly beneficial in both preliminary and mains exams.

  • Books that would help the candidates to complete UPSC history optional syllabus for the upcoming UPSC exam are

    • NCERTs (Class VIII to XII)
    • NIOS/IGNOU Notes
    • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
    • India's Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
    • India's Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma
    • History of Medieval India: From 647 A.D. to the Mughal Conquest by Satish Chandra
    • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

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