In this article, I wanna walk you through the ultimate guide to prepare Perspective in Human Geography i.e. Evolution of geographical thought and Notes for Geography Optional UPSC IAS.

Perspective in Human Geography

Let’s have a look at What are the chapters in Perspective in Human Geography –

  1. Areal differentiation
  2. Regional synthesis
  3. Dichotomy and dualism
  4. Environmentalism
  5. Quantitative revolution and locational analysis
  6. Radical, behavioral, human, and welfare approaches
  7. Languages, religions, and secularization
  8. Cultural regions of the world
  9. Human development index

Perspective in Human Geography – Books and Resources

  • Evolution of geographical thought by Majid Husain
  • Geographical Thought by R D Dixit
  • Notes and Articles of Lotus Arise
  • Syllabus and Previous Year Question papers
  • Test Series

In Perspective in Human Geography, I have taken these reference books

  1. Geographical Thought by R D Dixit
  2. Fundamentals of Geographical Thought by Sudeepta Adhikari
  3. Evolution of geographical thought by Majid Husain

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Preparation methodology of Perspective in Human Geography

This is a very important topic in the syllabus. In fact, This topic will help you to score 150+ in Paper-1 of Geography Optional. I have seen that even in earlier years, people with good marks unarguably had a strong grasp of this topic.

I would recommend the following path to cover this topic.

First, read the Notes and Articles of Lotus Arise. It’ll build a broad understanding and chronology of the evolution of geographical thought.

Then, read Evolution of geographical thought by Majid Husain (Chapter 7,8,9,10,12).

If You have much time, then, also read Geographical Thought by R D Dixit (Chapter 1-8, Chapter 11) and Fundamentals of Geographical Thought by Sudeepta Adhikari (Chapter 11, Chapter 13-16).

This will equip you to write extremely good answers as you’ll have precise definitions, theories, and lots of examples given originally by Geographers in their studies. Use the original quotes by Hartshorne, Febvre, Semple etc. along with the names of their thesis or books. Use chronological flowcharts while answering questions.

Also prepare topics like Languages, Religions, Cultural Regions, and HDI, and link these with Geographical Thought. Example – Link HDI with Welfare Geography; Languages and Religion with Diffusion and Cultural Landscape of American and German Geographers.

Evolution of geographical thought (Overview)

If you want to understand the Perspective in Human Geography then, first of all, You have to understand the Evolution of geographical thought i.e. how geography has evolved over a period of time.

The first person who tried to trace the development of geography and who identified different phases in geography was Richard Hart Shorne – in his book “Nature of Geography” (1939) followed by another book “Perspectives on Nature of Geography” (1949).

Richard Hart Shone book

Classification by Richard Hartshorne

  1. Phases of classical antiquity
  2. Dark age (for Europe)
  3. European renaissance
  4. Age of Voyages & Exploration
  5. Phases of Pre-classical geography
  6. The modern classical phase of geography
  7. Perspectives & Models in geography
  8. The 1930s-1940s (Debates)
  9. Quantitative resolution (the 1940s-50s)
  10. Critical revolution (2 phases)
    • Behavioral geography
    • Humanistic Backlash
  11. Social Relevance Approach (1970’s)
    • Radical Approach
    • Welfare approach

Phases of Classical Antiquity (Early Phase)

  • 9-10 BC (century) to 1-2 AD (century)
  • Greeks, Chinese, Indians, etc. (dominating)
  • Towards the end, the Romans dominated
  • Early phase and no major developments
  • Greece played a main role in Ancient trade routes so Greek scholars attained knowledge of the world

Dark age (for Europe)

  • 500-800 AD to 1200-1400 AD
  • Church dominates
    • Laws against religion discarded (Blasphemy)
      • No promotion of Scientific Enquiry
  • Arabs dominated this era
    • Arabs became powerful in knowledge as well as political influence controlled land routes towards east Asia (e.g. Arabs coined the term ‘Monsoon’ from an Arab word ‘Mausim’)
    • Famous Arab scholars were Al Masudi, Ibn Battuta, etc
  • The Church was dominating Europe in this age, so the Europeans had no contribution.
  • Beginning of European renaissance towards end of this phase.

European renaissance

  • Beginning of Scientific enquiry in Europe
  • Also promoted by rulers and monarchs
  • Cultural Revival of Europe with growing Economic ambitions of rulers, thus looking for a route towards India and other countries
  • Rulers were supported by Merchants
  • Crusades – fight to control Jerusalem.

Age of Voyages & Exploration

  • European Renaissance led to an increase in faith in Man’s Capabilities rather than in religion.
  • Declaiming Arabs.
  • Knowledge about places explored, and Lots of Maps drawn & Discovery of World Map
  • Development of new instruments/tools helping in Navigation.
  • New studies such as tides, ocean waves, etc while on voyages.
  • The Discovery of new places led to the knowledge of new cultures and places, their physical and human geography, demography, etc
    • Amerigo Vespucci – North America
    • Spanish & Portuguese – South America
    • Vasco Da Gama – India
    • British – New Zealand & Australia
Age of Discovery explorations

Phases of Pre-classical geography

  • The 1600s-100s AD
  • Bernhardus Varenius (1650’s)
  • Emmanuel Kant (1750’s)
  • These philosophers laid down the philosophical foundation of geography
  • They said that geography as a discipline is possible

The modern classical phase of geography

Perspectives & Models in geography [The 1930s-1940s (Debates)]

  • The late 1800s & early 1900s
  • Beginning of Dichotomy[division or contrast between two things] and Dualism[idea or theory that something (an object, an idea, or the whole world) is split into two parts] in Geography.
  • 1st Debate – Physical Geography vs. Human Geography
    • Resolved both Equally Important
    • The study of Human Geography helps to understand anthropogenic factors in the environment and enhancement of technological capabilities of Humans
  • 2nd Debate – Environment vs. Man
    • Which is more important?
    • Determinism vs Possibilism
      • Ratzel’s book – the 1880s – ‘ANTHROPO GEOGRAPHIE
  • Debate – Physical Geography vs. Human Geography
  • Debate – Regional Geography (or, special, or particular geography such as Himalayan study, etc) vs. General or Universal Geography (General Laws such as for Mountains, Rivers, etc)
Anthropo Geography
  • Ratzel’s 1880’s book Anthropo Geography (Two Volumes)
    • Volume 1 – In favor of determinism (It gave him identity)
    • Volume 2 – In favor of possibilism (inspired french possibilism)
French Possibilism
  • Vidal de la Blache inspired by Volume 2 (Ratzel’s book)
  • Griffith Taylor resolved the difference between Determinism & Possibilism but more in favor of Determinism & was called Neo-determinism.
    • According to him, Determinism & Possibilism do not have any major differences and are not extreme views. The environment provides possibilities to man but there are some limitations of the environment.
      • e.g. Rainforest cannot be grown on the Sahara Desert, Tundra Region has limitations of climate, unpredictable Earthquakes, and Tsunami, etc.
    • It’s up to man how he utilizes the possibilities provided by Man but it has limitations too.
      • e.g. Agriculture in the Sahara Desert is challenging.
  • When will be the scale & method of study?
  • Debate – Between Regional Geography (Special) & Systematic Geography (General)
    • Regional Geography – The only description of Regions possible but no laws can be formed.
    • Systematic Geography – Laws can be formed.
  • DebateHartshorne (Regional)(Areal Approach)(Descriptive) vs. Shaffer (Systematic) (Spatial Approach) (Analytical).

Quantitative Revolution (1940’s – 50’s)

  • Post-World War II Developments
  • Lots of Models developed such as Von Thunen Model, Weber’s Model, etc
  • Lots of Generalizations & Simplifying Assumptions such as Isotropic Surface, Rational man, etc
  • Cons
    • Laws – Ideal (Normative) and far from reality
    • Dynamic behavior of man – not taken into account.

Critical Revolution (1950s-60s)

  • Arose due to critique against QR(Quantitative Revolution)
  • Critical about ideal laws, about Normative assumptions, spurious generalizations which were believed to increase the credibility of Geography as a subject
    • Doesn’t depict reality
  • 2 Branches evolved –
    • Behavioral Geography
    • Humanistic Geography

Behavioural Geography

  • In favor of law-making quantification and generalization
  • Against the model of man as a rational economic man (the mechanical man has perceptions)
  • Analytical approach
  • Refined from of QR phase

Humanistic Geography

  • Rejects quantification generalization and Lawmaking
  • Every man is unique so No generalized laws possible for all
  • You just appreciate and acknowledge the diversity
  • Descriptive approach

Social Relevance Approach (1970’s)

  • Using geography to resolve social issues and development
  • Zelinsky (President of the American Association of Geographers) gave the speech that – Geography must act as a doctor and give a prescription for problems of society.
  • 2 Schools developed –
    • Radical Approach (Marxist Ideology, Socialism)
    • Welfare Approach (Humanism)
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Rahafat jaha

thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is the only platform giving such precious thing for free……………. it is very helpful for lots of aspirants like me .

Neha bhardwaj

Thanks a lot



Anthony Mondal

thanks for making the things precise and understable for the aspirants.


hello sir where can I find your geography articles other than notes

god bless u!

Ruby Meena

thank u sir


I’m a beginner in Geography Optional and these notes are helping me a lot to understand the things in a simple manner. Thanks a lot and please continue your good work.


Flow chart of evolution of geography is excellent..wonderful work done sir


sir u have the word regional Vs special but special word has been used for regional itself given in Dixit book Ch 1of varenius discussion
and there is dichotomy of regional Vs systematic.


Grt work sir ,ty so much

ankit pandey

thanku from the core of my heart,may god bless u ……..


Very benefiting for us plz sir post all remaining parta..


Yes, it is very Helpful, So please share remaining concept also……

Shubham Prakash

Paradise for geography optional aspirants !!


Thank you so much for your valuable support.


Thank you sir,
live long and stay blessed