WBCS History Optional Syllabus

By Avijit Dey|Updated : June 24th, 2022

History is one of the popular optional subjects in the WBCS main optional subject list. Candidates who opt for History optional in WBCS will find that the curriculum is focused on the development and subjects and topics related to Ancient and Medieval India, Modern History and World History. Candidates need to be thorough with WBCS Mains to make a better strategy for their preparation. They must read the WBCS  History course several times as optional preparation in the right manner will increase the chances of WBCS candidates scoring good marks in the West Bengal civil services examination. This article will very helpful to clear the WBCS, exam



Table of Content

WBCS History Optional Syllabus

In WBCS main exam, there are 2 papers on the optional subject - Paper I and Paper-II. Each paper in the optional subject is 200 marks, making it a total of 400 marks. As per the WBCS official notification, the syllabus of both the papers of optional History is as follows.

Read More : WBCS Mathematics Optional Syllabus

 Download WBCS History Optional Syllabus PDF 

After finishing the application process, all applicants for the WBCS History optional should begin their preparation immediately. In order to prepare for the exam, candidates must have a thorough understanding of the WBCS  History Optional  Syllabus 2022. After studying the WBCS History Optional Syllabus, candidates can look into the  WBCS Exam Pattern. The WBCS History Optional Syllabus PDF is available for download at the link below.

Read More : WBPSC WBCS History Optional Preparation Tips and Strategy


WBCS History Optional Syllabus

Paper I



1. Sources :

Archaeological Sources: Exploration, Excavation, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Monuments.

Literary Sources: Indigenous, Biography, Religious Literature, Creative Literature, Scientific Literature, Literature in Regional Languages.

Foreign Accounts: Greek, Roman, Chinese and Arab Writers.

2. The Harappan Civilization : Third to Second Millenium B.C.E

Origin, Date, Extent, Characteristics, Decline, Survival and Significance, Art and Architecture.

3. The Iron Age in India, Vedic Society and the Megalithic Culture: 1500 B.C.E to 6th Century B.C.E.

Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Harappan orbit. Early Vedic Society, Polity and Economy. Changes in the later Vedic period.

4. Period of Mahajanapadas :

Formation of territorial States (Mahajanapada): Republics and Monarchies; Spread of Jainism and Buddhism; Rise of Magadha and the Nandas. Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.

5. The Mauryan Empire:

Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthasastra; Asoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administraton; Economy; Art, Architecture and Sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature. Disintegration of the Empire.

6. Post-Mauryan Period

Northern India: The Sungas and the Kanvas, The Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas, Contact with the outside world; The Deccan and Southern India: The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age: Administration, Economy: land grants, trade guilds and urban centres; Social conditions. Culture and Religion: Rise of Mahayana Buddhism and Buddhist Centres; Literature and culture; Art and architecture and science.


7. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas:

Samundra Gupta, Chandragupta-II: Gupta Polity and administration, Economic conditions, land grants, Caste system, Position of women, Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramsila and Valabhi, Creative Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture.

Decline of the Gupta Empire; changes in Trade network, Decline of urban centres, Indian Feudalism.

8. The Post Gupta Period and the Rise of Regional States

The Kadambas, Pallavas, Chalukyas, Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pandyas.

Regional Polities and Administration, Local Government, Land administration, Economy, Trade Guilds.

Religion: Proliferation of Religious Sects in Buddhism, Vaishnava and Saiva religions. Tamil Bhakti Movement, Shankaracharya; Vedanta.

Cultural Aspects, Regional Languages and texts, Literature, Growth of art and architecture, Sculpture, Temple Architecture; Education and Literature, major philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics.

Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni.


1. Major political developments in India during 13th to 15th Centuries:

Campaigns of Mahmud Ghazni, Muhammad of Ghor — The foundation of the Delhi Sultanate and the early Turkish Sultans ‒ Qutbuddin Aibak to Balban — The Khalji revolution ‒ Alauddin Khalji, conquests and economic reforms — , Muhammad‒bin‒Tughlaq and his projects — Firuz Tughlaq— agrarian measures, public works‒ Decline of the Tughlaqs.

Provincial Kingdoms — Bengal under the Iliyas Shahi and Hussain Shahi Dynasties—Bahmani and Vijaynagar Empires — Kashmir and Gujarat.

2. Society, Culture and Economy during 13th and 15th centuries:

Social and Cultural Assimilation — Sufi and Bhakti Movements—Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, Namdeva, Growth of Regional Languages and Literature — Nature of the State — agriculture, revenue system (iqta) trade and Commerce — art and architecture.

3. Major Political Developments in India during 16th and 18th Centuries:

Coming of the Mughals —Babur and the foundation of the Mughal Empire, — Afghan — Mughal Contest for supremacy—Humayun and Sher Shah — Consolidation of the Mughal Empire— Akbar, Jahangir and Nur Jahan, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb — The Mughal Central State and regional powers—Rajputs, Afghans, Marathas, Sikhs, Deccan, Awadh and others. Peasants in Revolt — Jat, Satnami etc. Later Mughals — Fall and Disintegration of the Empire —Rise of the Regional States ‒ Bengal, Hyderabad, Awadh and the Marathas.

4. Society, Culture and Economy during 16th and 18th centuries:

Administrative System- Sher Shah to Akbar, Jagir and Mansabdari systems, — Evolution of religion under the Mughals — Sulh-i-Kul and Din-i-Ilahi — Mughal art, architecture, painting, music and literature, Mughal economy and Society—Condition of the peasants — urbanisation —trade and commerce and the mercantile classes ‒ Coming of the European merchants and ‘trade revolution’.

Paper II



1. European Penetration and Rise of British power in India:

• The early European Settlements in India in the 17th and 18th centuries - The Anglo - French rivalry.

• The British East India Company and the Bengal Nawabs - the EIC as sovereign ruler of Bengal (From Plassey to Buxar), Grant of Dewani.

• British relations with and subjugation of the other principal Indian powers - Oudh, Hyderabad, Marathas, the Sikhs, and Mysore.

2. Indian economy under the British Colonial Rule:-

(A) Impact of Colonial rule on Indian agrarian economy:-

• Land revenue settlements‒ Permanent, Ryotwari and Mahalwari Settlements.

• Economic Impact of revenue settlements – Commercialization and its consequences.

• Rural Indebtedness and growth of landless labour.

• Famine and poverty.

(B) Changing nature of India’s trade and industry under the colonial rule:-

• Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce

• De-industrialization - decline of village industries and town handicrafts

• Railways

• Growth of Foreign capital and rise of modern industries.

3. Indian Society in transition: Cultural Encounter and Socio-cultural changes:

• Introduction of western education and modern ideas

• Reform movements - Ram Mohan Roy, Brahmo Samaj, Young Bengal, Vidyasagar, Arya

Samaj, Vivekananda and Ramkrishna Mission.

• Women’s Question and Indian Reformers

• The Growth of modern vernacular literature, press and public opinion, growth and

spread of scientific ideas.

• The Faraizi and Wahabi movements; The Aligarh movement, Deoband School.

• Social Reform movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (including

depressed caste movements) - a broad overview.

4. Resistance to the British rule:

• Early uprisings against the British rule in 18th and 19th centuries (1757 - 1856) with

special reference to Bengal and eastern India.

• The Revolt of 1857 - genesis, course, character, causes of its failure and its impact.

• The Act of 1858 and the establishment of the British Raj.

5. Growth of Nationalism (1858 - 1918):

Factors leading to birth of Indian Nationalism - Early Political Associations - The foundation of the Indian National Congress (1885) - The Safety-valve thesis - Programme and objectives of the early Congress - Economic Nationalism and Drain Theory - The moderates and the extremists - the Partition of Bengal (1905) - The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal and other provinces - the economic, cultural and political aspects of Swadeshi movement.

6. Gandhian Era (1919 - 1947):

Rise of Gandhi - Character of Gandhian nationalism - the Rowlatt Satyagraha - The Khilafat - the Non Co-operation movement - Simon Commission, Nehru Report and Round Table Conferences - Civil Disobedience Movement - Quit India Movement.

The Left: The Left within the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru - Subhas Chandra Bose and the INA - the Congress Socialist Party - the Communist Party of India - other left parties.

The Peasant Movement.

The Working Class and Trade Union Movements.

Women’s organisations, development of women issues and the role of women in nationalist movement.

The Peoples’ Movement in Princely States.

The Post - War upsurge

Growth of Muslim Separatism - Rise of Muslim League - Demand for Pakistan

Hindu Nationalism

Depressed Classes and caste politics with special reference to the role of B. R. Ambedkar.

Communalism, British Policy, Partition and Independence

7. The Constitutional Developments (1773 - 1947):

The Regulating Act, Pitt’s India Act and the Charter Acts.

The Acts of 1861 and 1892 - the Morley Minto Reforms (1909) - the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms (1919) - Government of India Act (1935) - Working of Provincial Ministries - Cripps Mission, Wavell Plan and Cabinet Mission - Act of Indian Independence (1947).

8. Consolidation as a Nation after 1947:

Framing of the Indian Constitution - Integration of Princely States - the question of National Language - the linguistic reorganisation of States, making of India’s foreign policy - Non-alignment and the Third World - India and her neighbours.


01. Enlightenment and Modern Ideas:

(i) Major ideas of enlightenment ; and its impact

(ii) French Revolution and its aftermath: 1789 - 1815

(iii) The American War of Independence (1776). The American civil War

02. Industrialization:

(i) Industrial Revolution in England: causes, nature, impact.

(ii) Industrialization in other countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Japan.

03. Nationalism:

(i) Rise of nation states in Europe: Italy & Germany.

04. Imperialism, Colonialism and War:

(i) Capitalism, imperialism, scramble for colonies.

(ii) Origins and impact of the First World War

(iii) Making of the Russian Revolution & establishment of a Socialist State.

05. World history from 1919 to 1945:

(i) League of Nations, collective security.

(ii) Rise of Nazism and Fascism : Germany, Italy & Japan.

(iii) Second World War: Causes and consequences.

06. Asia and Africa after World War II:

(i) Chinese Revolution of 1949

(ii) Nationalist movements and decolonization in South and South East Asia.

(iii) Changes in Africa: Egypt and South Africa, End of Apartheid.

07. Cold War & Global scenario:

(i) Origins and Growth of cold War

(ii) UNO and global disputes - Korea, Congo, Cuban crisis.

(iii) Emergence of Third World and NAM

08. Collapse of Soviet Union

(i) Disintegration of the Soviet Union: Causes & Consequences

(ii) End of the Cold War

(iii) Political Changes in Eastern Europe. 


Best Books for WBCS History Optional Syllabus 

To complete the WBCS History Optional Syllabus, candidates can refer to the books mentioned below. 



Book List

Ancient History

  • Ancient Indian History-A.L.Basham-The Wonder that was India(English Version)
  • Ancient Indian History-V.D.Mahajan(English Version)
  • প্রাচীন ভারতের ইতিহাস-দিলিপ কুমার গাঙ্গুলি(বাংলা মাধ্যম)

Medieval History

  • Medieval Indian History-V.D.Mahajan(English Version)
  • Satish Chandra(Medieval India)
  • মধ্যযুগের ভারতের ইতিহাস-অনিরুদ্ধ রায়(বাংলা মাধ্যম)তেসলিম চৌধুরি(বাংলা মাধ্যম)

Modern History

  • Modern Indian History-Sekhar Bandyopadhyay(English Version),
  • Bipan Chandra(English Version)
  • আধুনিক ভারতের ইতিহাস-সমর কুমার মল্লিক (বাংলা মাধ্যম)
  • World History-Norman Lowe(English Version)
  • Contemporary World History(NCERT Arjun Dev)
  • প্রভাতাংশু মাইতি(বাংলা মাধ্যম),অলোক কুমার ঘোষ(সমসাময়িক বিশ্ব



How to Prepare WBCS History Optional Syllabus?

It is important to read WBCS History Optional Tips suggested by our expert History faculties.  Many aspirants scored qualifying marks after following these tips to cover the entire History syllabus of WBCS History Optional.

  • Check the full syllabus and examination pattern of  WBCS History Optional thoroughly
  • Start preparing for the exam with a time schedule
  • Practice with the previous year’s question papers and their solutions
  • Need Revision of all topics on a daily basis
  • Attempt  Mock tests to understand the preparation progress


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  • There are so many books on Modern History.If you prepare yourself in the English version then you can go for Plassey to Partition (Sekhar Banerjee, India’s Struggle for Independence(Bipan Chandra), Modern India(Sumit Sarkar). Just pick any one of them and thoroughly go through it because a well-versed concept needs to be built up, especially for the Modern Indian part. But if you want to prepare in the Bengali version there is also a very good collection of Bengali version Modern Indian books.As an example you can collect any of them-আধুনিক ভারতের ১৫০ বছর (প্রথম খণ্ড),রাজ থেকে স্বরাজ( দ্বিতীয় খণ্ড)- সমর মল্লিক ,ভারতবর্ষের ইতিহাস-সিদ্ধার্থ গুহ রায় ও সুরঞ্জন চটত্তপাধ্যায়,আধুনিক ভারতের ইতিহাস-বিপান চন্দ্র(বাংলা অনুবাদ)

  • If you go through the previous year's questions you will find a maximum number of questions of Part 1 correspond with the Ancient Indian History. As an example, the very first chapter of Ancient History starts with the names of Sources of Ancient Indian History. Every year the History Optional question paper starts with one or other question from the given chapter. So Ancient History is very important for WBCS Optional.

  • One can download WBCS History Optional Syllabus PDF by using the direct link given here or they can also download the PDF from the official website of the WBPSC. With PDF on your device, you can access the syllabus anytime.

  • You can follow this idea

    • know your WBCS History Syllabus.
    • Select Best Reference Books.
    • Prepare a Study plan.
    • .Practice as much as you can
    • Practice Previous Question Papers.
    • Practice a few Mock Test Papers.

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