For Civil Services Mains Examination, World History is also there in UPSC Mains syllabus. Syllabus of World History for UPSC Mains exam includes: events from 18th century- (Industrial revolution, WWs, redrawn boundaries, colonisation, decolonisation); Political philosophies (e.g. communism, capitalism, socialism) and their effect on society.


  • Importance of Induatrial Revolution
  • Scientific Innovations which led to Induarial Revolution
  • Causes of Induatrial Revolution in England


The Industrial Revolution refers to the greatly increased output of machine-made goods that began in England during the 18th century. Before the Industrial Revolution, people wove textiles by hand. Beginning in the middle 1700s, machines did this and other jobs as well. The Industrial Revolution started in England and soon spread to Continental Europe and North America. It brought economic changes which took place in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and completely transformed the European society. The Industrial Revolution brought about two main changes, viz. it replaced the domestic system by factory system and small scale production by mass production.

The Scientific & Technological Innovations, which made the Revolution Possible

Steam Power 
The invention of the use of steam was one of the most revolutionary discoveries which greatly facilitated the adoption of the machine methods of production. Prior to the discovery of the system power also machines were in use, but the progress was rather slow due to lack of good motive power. These machines were worked on water or wind-power. The discovery of the steam power solved this problem. It was independent of the weather and was also not limited by conditions of  place.  Steam power could be generated at any place and in any quantity according  to the requirements. This was made possible with the help of an engine designed by Newcomen. This engine was further perfected by James Watt and it was possible to turn wheel and drive machinery

Iron & Steel 
The introduction of steam-driven machinery also made it desirable that the wood machinery should be replaced by machinery made of some durable material, and thus usage of iron was a natural development. But as iron was not available in sufficient quantity an effort was made to increase its production through the use of cocking process. In 1829 Nelson invented a hot blast which made the use of raw coal, instead of coke, possible for the manufacture of iron. This invention greatly helped the growth of iron industry of Clyde.

The metal industry made yet another break through with the discovery of cheap methods of making steel, which was superior to iron on account of its lightness, hardness and durability.. It particularly proved quite useful for the making of rails, building of ships and construction of factories and dwelling houses.

Development of Coal Industry
The increasing use of steam power and iron and steel necessitated the development of coal industry. In fact the coal and the iron are the two foundations of the modern industrial society and a country lacking in either stands at a disadvantage.

In fact, France could not make much progress in the field of industrialization, mainly due to lack of sufficient quantity of coal, which obliged her to persist with the antiquated methods of production of iron for a long time. On the other hand, Britain and Germany were more favourably placed in this regard and naturally had  a lead over France despite presence of rich iron deposits in that country.

Changes in Means of Communication
Between 1800 and 1820 about 200 miles of rail lines were in operation in Britain. They were mainly used to carry raw material. Efforts were also made to bring improvements in road and inland waterways. As a result of all these changes Britain came to have thousand of good roads which greatly reduced the transportation cost.

Improvements were also affected in the inland waterways. As heavy goods such as iron and coal could not be carried to distant places by means of roads, the people took to the use of water as a means of communication by digging new canals. As a result, the industrial areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire and coalfields whose development had been hampered by the hilly character of the country due to absence of good roads and navigable rivers, were opened up for exploitation. After the arrival of the steam engine, steam boats also began to be used which revolutionized the water transport system.

First, railroads spurred industrial growth by giving manufacturers a cheap way to transport materials and finished products. Second, the railroad boom created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for both railroad workers and miners. These miners provided iron for the tracks and coal for the steam engines. Third, the railroads boosted England's agricultural and fishing industries, which could transport their products to distant cities. Finally, by making travel easier, railroads encouraged country people to take distant city jobs. Also, railroads lured city dwellers to resorts in the countryside.

Textile Industry
By 1800, several major inventions had modernized the cotton industry. In the process one invention led to another.
First the invention of flying shuttle, a boat-shaped piece of wood to which yarn was attached, doubled the work a weaver could do in a day. Later in 1764, a textile  worker invented  a spinning wheel he named  after his daughter, spinning jenny, allowed one spinner to work eight threads at a time. Later many small adaptations to these developed a spinning mule. The spinning mule made thread that was stronger, finer, and more consistent than earlier spinning machines.

The spinning mule, and the power loom were bulky and expensive machines. They took the work of spinning and weaving out of the house. Wealthy textile merchants set up the machines in large buildings called factories, which multiplied the production several times within short duration.

Improvements in Engineering Techniques
The mechanical engineers particularly played an important role in the improvement of machinery as well as its efficient use. They made use of iron and steel in place of wood to create complex machinery.

Small Population
The small size of England's population, necessitated it to increase productivity as production levels could not cope with England's growing trade, also necessitated that new devices should be found out to keep production in line with the growing demand. The shortage of the labour force compelled; the owners to encourage and apply new mechanical devices.

Protestant Religion
A factor which contributed to England's lead in the technological revolution was that the English scientists and engineers had a very practical bent of mind. This was a direct result of the presence of protestant religion,    as it enabled people to ask questions instead of maintaining blind faith.

A sizable section of people possessed enterprising spirit and requisite technical qualities. Further this class of people also possessed organizing abilities and was accustomed to the handling of large enterprises and labour force. These people were willing to invest money for the discovery of new techniques and give a fair trial to these techniques.

Enormous Expansion in Overseas Trade of Britain
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Britain had established an extensive colonial empire and successfully established monopoly over trade in these markets.

The growing demand for the British goods in these markets gave a stimulus to the British manufacturers to take to machine methods. It is well known that the mechanical inventions of textile industry were invented  to increase the production of cotton cloth which was in great demand in India. These inventions are sometimes spoken of as the primary cause of the Industrial Revolution. In reality, they were a secondary cause only. Machines for turning out cheap goods in large quantities are useless unless there is a market capable of absorbing the increased output. The market must come first; the inventions follow.

Availability of Capital
The increasing inflow of capital which Britain accumulated out of  profits of its growing trade enabled it  to make invest greatly on machinery and buildings, which in turn contributed to new technological developments

Social and Political Stability
Britain not only enjoyed complete freedom of trade but also an insulated geographical location. This factor greatly helped in industrial revolution, as being cut-off from the mainland of Europe, England remained immune from wars and upheavals of Napoleonic conflicts and conditions remained quite stable in the country. These stable conditions enabled England to develop their industrial capacity without fear of battle, damage or loss of life.

This social stability prevailing in England encouraged the people to invest in sectors where they could hope  to receive high dividend in future. This led to adoption of new techniques and promotion of new industries.

The Availability of Coal and Iron Mines Close to each Other
The location of the coal and iron mines close to each other encouraged the English to evolve new techniques for the manufacture of iron and utilization of the coals.

Agricutural revolution
The Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century paved the way for the Industrial Revolution in Britain. New farming techniques and improved livestock breeding led to amplified food production. This allowed a spike in population and increased health. The new farming techniques also led to an enclosure movement

Better Means of Transport
England possessed a far better network of means of transportation than any other country of Europe which greatly helped the industrial revolution. In this task the government played an important role which spent considerable amount on the improvement of roads and construction of canals.

In short, we can say that in comparison to other European countries England was more favourably placed in many respects and no wonder stole lead over them in the field of technological revolution and industrialization.

For Civil Services Mains Examination, World History is 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. If the candidates have a thorough understanding of World history, it will help them not only in General Studies Paper 1 but also for the General Studies Paper 2..  Click here to readmore articles in world History