History Syllabus for UPSC General Studies Exam 2020

History Syllabus for UPSC General Studies Exam 2020

One of the UPSC optional subjects is History. Syllabus of history demands the candidates to focus on the chronological events. In the mains exam, History is one of the most popular optional subjects. The syllabus of History includes archaeology, historical architecture, culture and heritage.

In UPSC mains History has 2 papers each of 250 marks.

UPSC History Syllabus paper I:

  • Pre-History and Proto-History
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Megalithic Cultures
  • Aryans and Vedic Period
  • Period of Mahajanpadas
  • Mauryan Empire
  • Post Mauryan Period
  • Early state and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and south India
  • Guptas, Vakatakas, Vardhanas
  • Regional States during Gupta Era
  • Themes in early Indian Cultural History
  • Early Medieval India,750-1200
  • Cultural Traditions in India,750-1200
  • The Thirteenth Century
  • The Fourteenth Century
  • The fifteenth and early sixteenth century political developments and economy
  • Akbar
  • Mughal Empire
  • Economy and Society, in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Culture during Mughal Empire
  • The Eighteenth Century

 UPSC History Syllabus paper II:

  • European penetration in India
  • British Expansion in India
  • Early structure of the British in India
  • Economic Impact of British colonial rule
  • Social and Cultural Developments
  • Social and Religious reform movements
  • Indian response to British rule
  • Birth of Indian Nationalism
  • Rise of Gandhi
  • Constitutional Developments in India between 1858 and 1935
  • Politics of Separatism
  • Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  • Enlightenment of 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


Widely History syllabus is divided into four parts


  1. Ancient History: It can be studied under the below topics

        i) Paleolithic period: The Paleolithic period remains from 2 million BC to 10,000 BC. This period is also known as old stone age. Few characteristics of this age are:

  • This era is believed to be the age of ostrich eggs
  • Fire
  • Lime stone was used to make tools

      ii) Mesolithic period: The Mesolithic period remains from 10,000 BC to 8,000 BC. It is believed that cattle rearing began during this period and also major climatic   changes too happened during this period.

      iii) Neolithic period: The Neolithic period remains from 8000 BC to 4000 BC. It is believed that this era is the advent of agriculture and also the discovery of wheels. Early villages were also found in this period.

      iv) Chalcolithic period


  1. Medieval History: The period of AD 800-1200 is supposed to be the period of medieval history it is also the period of tripartite struggle. This period also witnessed rise of Islam and Sufism. Mohammed Ghazni and Mohammed Ghori were also part of this era.

Few dynasties also flourished during this period

  • Slave Dynasty
  • Kilji Dynasty
  • Tuglaq Dynasty
  • Sayyid Dynasty
  • Lodi Dynasty
  1. Modern Indian History: Modern India has seen many changes and so many concrete developments were seen in this era which are pillars of Modern India. Few notable incidents are:
  • First war of Indian Independence started in 1857
  • Indian National Congress was formed in year 1885
  • Muslim league was formed in the year 1906
  • Quit India Movement in 1942
  • 1947 was the year of partition
  • India-Pak and India-China wars were also the part of this era
  • This period also witnessed Nuclear, Space and Defense Development.

       4. World History:World history was recently added to the GS syllabus also. Areas to be covered in world history

  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution
  • Unification of Italy
  • The Unification of Germany
  • The concept of Imperialism
  • Nazism
  • Fascism
  • Russian Revolution
  • The Bi Polar World and Cold War
  • Disintegration of USSR
  • Uni Polar World


 Tips to prepare for the Exam:

  • Memorizing the information
  • Create a Study Strategy
  • Repeated Revisions
  • Analytical Approach
  • Good overview of syllabus
  • Inter-connecting events