DETAILS OF GEOERAPHY OPTIONAL
- Geography is a highly popular optional subject in the UPSC mains exam. It is especially popular with candidates with a science or engineering background because of the nature of the subject itself. It is a science and this makes it attractive for candidates. It is also popular because of the overlap with the syllabus for UPSC. We discuss all this and more including a strategy for Geography optional in this article.
There are actually 8 books that cover almost 80-85% of the syllabus.
It is updation, enrichment and deeper conceptual clarity that requires more books and coverage of current affairs based questions. Sincerely managing GS goes a long way in helping geography too.
- NCERT-XI & XII
- Made Simple Series by Rupa Publication-Vol-I & II
- A certificate course in geography by Goh Cheng Leong
- Physical Geography- By Savindra Singh
- For the other topics of the Physical geography syllabus, one has to refer to about 2-3 chapters from each of the below books: One can take photocopies of the select chapters from libraries and study rather than buying these booksGeomorphology-By Savindra Singh
- Oceanography- By Savindra Singh
- Climatology- By Savindra Singh
- Environment Geography-By Savindra Singh
- Biogeography- By Savindra Singh
- Indian Geography by D R Khullar
- Human Geography by Majid Hussain
- Models and theories by Majid Hussain
- Geographical thought by Dixit
- Geographical thought by Sudipta Adhikary ( A good supplement for Thought topics)
- NCERT class X text book, (Old Edition) is good for Economic Geography Coverage. It will also help GS geography topics like- World Industries, World Resources distribution and trade.
- Settlement Geography by K Siddhartha
Geography Optional pros
- Overlap with General Studies - There is tremendous overlap with the GS paper I. This is true for both the prelims and the mains exams. Overlap with the Mains GS papers: There is a whole section for Geography in the GS paper I. Even some topics like tribal issues, reorganisations, etc. are covered in the optional subject. About 80 – 100 marks worth questions are asked in the General Studies I paper which you would have covered while preparing for your optional. Even though there are not many topics in GS II with a direct overlap, some topics from International Relations finds links with Geography such as geopolitics of the Indian Ocean region, SAARC, India and her neighbours, BIMSTEC, and so on. Opinion-based questions like in geopolitics and regional geography is also a part of international relations and current affairs. In GS III, the topics that can be covered from the Geography optional include agriculture, cross-border crimes, planning, development, infrastructure, industries and resources, transportation, demographic dividend, etc. Geography also has a lot of overlap with subjects like economy, environment and conservation. Geography is a multidisciplinary subject. Hence, it is popular with a lot of candidates with a science/engineering background. Once the concepts or the theory behind any phenomenon are understood, you can easily write the answers in your own words.
- Scoring subject Many consider geography a scoring subject because of many factors:
- In theories, there are conceptual and fact-based questions where there is less margin to reduce marks.
- You can draw diagrams, flowcharts and tables to represent your answers better and drive the point home. A single good diagram speaks for about a hundred words. This saves time in the mains exam.
- Map-based questions are particularly scoring.
Geography Optional Cons
The chief pitfall of this optional is that it has a vast syllabus. Also, the competition in this subject is also huge as almost 4000 candidates opt for this optional subject.