#9: World History : Booklist, Syllabus & Preparation Strategy

History is an important subject in UPSC Civil Service Prelims and Mains exam. For Prelims examination, History is divided into three sections – Ancient India, Medieval India and Modern History. For Civil Services Mains Examination, World History is also there in UPSC Mains syllabus. The events from the 18th century are included in this portion for General Studies paper. To tackle this portion, aspirants should have a thorough knowledge of World History.

For World History UPSC demands a more generalist approach compared to Indian History. Aspirants should not focus too much on facts and figures. They should try to develop an analytical approach to tackling World History. Aspirants should analyze the causes and results of every event. The questions asked for UPSC Mains exam may not be direct. So without a thorough understanding of the basics of world history, UPSC aspirants may fail to answer the questions.

The UPSC syllabus for World History in General Studies Mains. World History will include events from the 18th century such as:

  • Industrial revolution
  • Colonization
  • Decolonization
  • World wars
  • Redraw of national boundaries
  • Political philosophies such as capitalism, socialism, communism, etc. – their forms and consequences on society.

Important areas to focus on World History for UPSC Mains/Important world history topics for UPSC exam:

  • American Revolution – Get important key terms in the American Revolution in the linked article.
  • Russian Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Imperialism
  • Nazism – Check the difference between Nazism and Fascism in the linked article.
  • Fascism
  • Unification of Italy
  • Unification of Germany
  • Bi-Polar World and Cold War
  • Uni-Polar World
  • Disintegration of USSR

World History Books for UPSC Mains: 

Important Books and Online Study Materials for World History for UPSC Mains:

  • NCERT Books for History (History: NCERT Class XI – Themes In World History is the recommended World History NCERT for UPSC)
  • History of Modern World – BV Rao
  • History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur

To summarize the above, an aspirant should not give too much time to world history part as the syllabus of the GS mains paper -1 is very vast in comparison to the number of questions asked in the Main Exam. Instead, that time can be utilized in other areas of history.


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