History Optional Syllabus for UPSC 2022

History Optional Syllabus for UPSC

Candidates can download History Optional Syllabus for UPSC from here. The Mains exam syllabus is divided in 2 papers.



1. Sources Archaeological sources : 

Exploration, excavation, epigraphy, numismatics, monuments. Literary sources: Indigenous: Primary and secondary; poetry, scientific literature, literature, literature in regional languages, religious literature. Foreign account: Greek, Chinese and Arab writers. 

2. Pre-history and Proto-history : 

Geographical factors; hunting and gathering (paleolithic and mesolithic); Beginning of agriculture (neolithic and chalcolithic). 

3. Indus Valley Civilization : 

Origin, date, extent, characteristics-decline, survival and significance, art and architecture. 4. Megalithic Cultures : Distribution of pastoral and farming cultures outside the Indus, Development of community life, Settlements, Development of agriculture, Crafts, Pottery, and Iron industry. 

5. Aryans and Vedic Period : 

Expansions of Aryans in India : Vedic Period: Religious and philosophic literature; Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period; Political, social and economical life; Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system. 

6. Period of Mahajanapadas : 

Formation of States (Mahajanapada): Republics and monarchies; Rise of urban centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage; Spread of Jainism and Buddism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas. Iranian and Mecedonian invasions and their impact. 

7. Mauryan Empire : 

Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthashastra; Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration, Economy; Art, architecture and sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature. Disintegration of the empire; sungas and Kanvas. 

8. Post-Mauryan Period (Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushanas, Western Kshatrapas) : 

Contact with outside world; growth of urban centres, economy, coinage, development of religions, Mahayana, social conditions, art, architecture, culture, literature and science. 

9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India: 

Kharavela, The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age; Administration, Economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds and urban centres; Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture. 

10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas: 

Polity and administration, Economic conditions, Coinage of the Guptas, Land grants, Decline of urban centres, Indian feudalism, Caste system, Position of women, Education and educational institutions; Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi, Literature, scientific literature, art and architecture. 

11. Regional States during Gupta Era: 

The Kadambas, Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami; Polity and Administration, Trade guilds, Literature; growth of Vaishnava and Saiva religions. Tamil Bhakit movement, Shankaracharya; Vedanta; Institutions of temple and temple architecture; Palas, Senas, Rashtrakutas, Paramaras, Polity and administration; Cultural aspects. Arab conquest of Sind; Alberuni, The Chaluky as of Kalyana, Cholas, Hoysalas, Pandyas; Polity and Administration; Local Government; Growth of art and architecture, religious sects, Institution of temple and Mathas, Agraharas, education and literature, economy and society.

12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History: 

Languages and texts, major stages in the evolution of art and architecture, major philosophical thinkers and schools, ideas in Science and Mathematics. 

13. Early Medieval India, 750-1200:

 — Polity: Major political developments in Northern India and the peninsula, origin and the rise of Rajputs. 

— The Cholas: administration, village economy and society “Indian Feudalism”. 

— Agrarian economy and urban settlements. 

— Trade and commerce. 

— Society: the status of the Brahman and the new social order. 

— Condition of women. — Indian science and technology. 

14. Cultural Traditions in India, 750-1200: 

— Philosophy: Skankaracharya and Vedanta, Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita, Madhva and BrahmaMimansa. 

— Religion: Forms and features of religion, Tamil devotional cult, growth of Bhakti, Islam and its arrival in India, Sufism. 

— Literature: Literature in Sanskrit, growth of Tamil literature, literature in the newly developing languages, Kalhan’s Rajtarangini, Alberuni’s India. 

— Art and Architecture: Temple architecture, sculpture, painting

15. The Thirteenth Century:

— Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate: The Ghurian invasions – factors behind Ghurian success. 

— Economic, Social and cultural consequences. 

— Foundation of Delhi Sultanate and early Turkish Sultans. 

— Consolidation: The rule of Iltutmish and Balban.

16. The Fourteenth Century: 

— “The Khalji Revolution”. 

— Alauddin Khalji: Conquests and territorial expansion, agrarian and economic measure. 

— Muhammad Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq. 

— Firuz Tugluq: Agrarian measures, achievements in civil engineering and public works, decline of the Sultanate, foreign contacts and Ibn Battuta’s account. 

17.Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: 

— Society: composition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate, Bhakti movement, Sufi movement. 

— Culture: Persian literature, literature in the regional languages of North India, literature in the languages of South India, Sultanate architecture and new structural forms, painting, evolution of a composite culture. 

— Economy: Agricultural Production, rise of urban economy and non-agricultural production, trade and commerce.

18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century-Political Developments and Economy: 

— Rise of Provincial Dynasties : Bengal, Kashmir (Zainul Abedin), Gujarat. 

— Malwa, Bahmanids. — The Vijayanagara Empire. 

— Lodis. — Mughal Empire, first phase : Babur, Humayun. 

— The Sur Empire : Sher Shah’s administration. 

— Portuguese colonial enterprise, Bhakti and Sufi Movements. 

19. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century- Society and culture: 

— Regional cultures specificities. 

— Literary traditions. 

— Provincial architectural. 

— Society, culture, literature and the arts in Vijayanagara Empire. 

20. Akbar: 

— Conquests and consolidation of empire. 

— Establishment of jagir and mansab systems. 

— Rajput policy. 

— Evolution of religious and social outlook. Theory of Sulh-i-kul and religious policy. 

— Court patronage of art and technology. 

21. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century: 

— Major administrative policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. 

— The Empire and the Zamindars. 

— Religious policies of Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. 

— Nature of the Mughal State. 

— Late Seventeenth Century crisis and the revolts. 

— The Ahom kingdom. 

— Shivaji and the early Maratha Kingdom. 

22. Economy and society, in the 16th and 17th Centuries: 

— Population Agricultural and craft production. 

— Towns, commerce with Europe through Dutch, English and French companies : a trade revolution. 

— Indian mercantile classes. Banking, insurance and credit systems. 

— Conditions of peasants, Condition of Women. 

— Evolution of the Sikh community and the Khalsa Panth. 

23. Culture during Mughal Empire: 

— Persian histories and other literature. 

— Hindi and religious literatures. 

— Mughal architecture. 

— Mughal painting. 

— Provincial architecture and painting. 

— Classical music. 

— Science and technology. 

24. The Eighteenth Century: 

— Factors for the decline of the Mughal Empire. 

— The regional principalities: Nizam’s Deccan, Bengal, Awadh. 

— Maratha ascendancy under the Peshwas. 

— The Maratha fiscal and financial system. 

— Emergence of Afghan power Battle of Panipat, 1761. 

— State of, political, cultural and economic, on eve of the British conquest


1. European Penetration into India: 

The Early European Settlements; The Portuguese and the Dutch; The English and the French East India Companies; Their struggle for supremacy; Carnatic Wars; Bengal-The conflict between the English and the Nawabs of Bengal; Siraj and the English; The Battle of Plassey; Significance of Plassey. 

2. British Expansion in India: 

Bengal-Mir Jafar and Mir Kasim; The Battle of Buxar; Mysore; The Marathas; The three AngloMaratha Wars; The Punjab. 

3. Early Structure of the British Raj: 

The Early administrative structure; From diarchy to direct contol; The Regulating Act (1773); The Pitt’s India Act (1784); The Charter Act (1833); The Voice of free trade and the changing character of British colonial rule; The English utilitarian and India. 

4. Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule: 

(a) Land revenue settlements in British India; The Permanent Settlement; Ryotwari Settlement; Mahalwari Settlement; Economic impact of the revenue arrangements; Commercialization of agriculture; Rise of landless agrarian labourers; Impoverishment of the rural society. (b) Dislocation of traditional trade and commerce; De-industrialisation; Decline of traditional crafts; Drain of wealth; Economic transformation of India; Railroad and communication network including telegraph and postal services; Famine and poverty in the rural interior; European business enterprise and its limitations. 

5. Social and Cultural Developments: 

The state of indigenous education, its dislocation; Orientalist-Anglicist controversy, The introduction of western education in India; The rise of press, literature and public opinion; The rise of modern vernacular literature; Progress of Science; Christian missionary activities in India. 

6. Social and Religious Reform Movements in Bengal and Other Areas: 

Ram Mohan Roy, The Brahmo Movement; Devendranath Tagore; Iswarchandra Vidyasagar; The Young Bengal Movement; Dayanada Saraswati; The social reform movements in India including Sati, widow remarriage, child marriage etc.; The contribution of Indian renaissance to the growth of modern India; Islamic revivalism-the Feraizi and Wahabi Movements. 

7. Indian Response to British Rule: 

Peasant movement and tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries including the Rangpur Dhing (1783), the Kol Rebellion (1832), the Mopla Rebellion in Malabar (1841-1920), the Santal Hul (1855), Indigo Rebellion (1859-60), Deccan Uprising (1875) and the Munda Ulgulan (1899-1900); The Great Revolt of 1857 —Origin, character, casuses of failure, the consequences; The shift in the character of peasant uprisings in the post-1857 period; the peasant movements of the 1920s and 1930s. 

8. Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism; 

Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress; The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress; Programme and objectives of Early Congress; the social composition of early Congress leadership; the Moderates and Extremists; The Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement; The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India. 

9. Rise of Gandhi; Character of Gandhian nationalism; Gandhi’s popular appeal; Rowlatt Satyagraha; the Khilafat Movement; the Non-cooperation Movement; National politics from the end of the Noncooperation movement to the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement; the two phases of the Civil Disobedience Movement; Simon Commission; The Nehru Report; the Round Table Conferences; Nationalism and the Peasant Movements; Nationalism and Working class movements; Women and Indian youth and students in Indian politics (1885-1947); the election of 1937 and the formation of ministries; Cripps Mission; the Quit India Movement; the Wavell Plan; The Cabinet Mission. 

10. Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935. 

11. Other strands in the National Movement. The Revolutionaries: Bengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P. the Madras Presidency, Outside India. The Left; The Left within the Congress: Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties. 

12. Politics of Separatism; the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition; Transfer of power; Independence. 

13. Consolidation as a Nation; Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganisation of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language. 

14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947; Backward Castes and Tribes in post-colonial electoral politics; Dalit movements. 

15. Economic development and political change; Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction; Ecology and environmental policy in post-colonial India; Progress of Science. 

16. Enlightenment and Modern ideas: 

(i) Major Ideas of Enlightenment : Kant, Rousseau. (ii) Spread of Enlightenment in the colonies. (iii) Rise of socialist ideas (up to Marx); spread of Marxian Socialism. 

17. Origins of Modern Politics : 

(i) European States System. (ii) American Revolution and the Constitution. (iii) French Revolution and Aftermath, 1789-1815. (iv) American Civil War with reference to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery. (v) British Democratic politics, 1815-1850 : Parliamentary Reformers, Free Traders, Chartists. 

18. Industrialization : 

(i) English Industrial Revolution : Causes and Impact on Society. (ii) Industrialization in other countries : USA, Germany, Russia, Japan. (iii) Industrialization and Globalization. 

19. Nation-State System : 

(i) Rise of Nationalism in 19th century. (ii) Nationalism : State-building in Germany and Italy. (iii) Disintegration of Empires in the face of the emergence of nationalities across the World. 

20. Imperialism and Colonialism : 

(i) South and South-East Asia. (ii) Latin America and South Africa. (iii) Australia. (iv) Imperialism and free trade: Rise of neo-imperialism. 

21. Revolution and Counter-Revolution : 

(i) 19th Century European revolutions. (ii) The Russian Revolution of 1917-1921. (iii) Fascist Counter-Revolution, Italy and Germany. (iv) The Chinese Revolution of 1949. 

22. World Wars : 

(i) 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars : Societal implications. (ii) World War I : Causes and Consequences. (iii) World War II : Causes and Consequences. 

23. The World after World War II: 

(i) Emergence of Two power blocs. (ii) Emergence of Third World and non-alignment. (iii) UNO and the global disputes. 

24. Liberation from Colonial Rule : 

(i) Latin America-Bolivar. (ii) Arab World-Egypt. (iii) Africa-Apartheid to Democracy. (iv) South-East Asia-Vietnam. 

25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment : 

(i) Factors constraining Development ; Latin America, Africa. 

26. Unification of Europe : 

(i) Post War Foundations ; NATO and European Community. (ii) Consolidation and Expansion of European Community (iii) European Union. 

27. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World : 

(i) Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet Communism and Soviet Union, 1985-1991. (ii) Political Changes in East Europe 1989-2001. (iii) End of the Cold War and US Ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.

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