In this article, I want to walk you through that How to prepare world history for UPSC Exam, what is World history syllabus for UPSC and booklist, which should ultimately approach to prepare world history.

Welcome to the world history syllabus for UPSC Module of Lotus Arise!

Before I begin let me clearly state that there is no magic wand to clear UPSC IAS Exam. Also, there is no correlation between intelligence and high aptitude with chances of selection in the UPSC IAS Exam. Most of the people who crack it are no indifferent (at one point in time even they were a part of the herd and felt the same uncertainty of clearing up this exam). But yes something worked for them, that made them successful.

We know that most of you especially the first-timers would be cursing UPSC for having World History in the syllabus. The thoughts like, why to read it and know about so many events happened years ago? What is its relevance for my preparation and all?

Top of it, UPSC in recent years is asking questions that cannot be solved simply by reading the standard textbooks. Secondly, the focus seems to shift from obvious topics to hidden and associated topics, events, nature, significance, etc.

How on Earth UPSC expects to remember everything in fine detail?

Let us provide you a fine print of WH and its significance for your preparation and how effectively can you enjoy studying the same.

What comes to your mind when you look at the keywords like:

You take them literally by heart and try to mug everything as you come across, right!

Assume yourself to be a Time-traveller and while you read the texts, try to fit in yourself with the context of the topic. Imagine yourself to be living in that time, and feel the developments as you go on reading about it.

Let’s say, you are studying the French Revolution. How will you incorporate the imagination aspect we just mentioned in the preceding paragraph?

Put your mind to question on these lines:

  • Why the revolution took place?
  • Out of three different categories of people (The THREE STATES) involved, where do you place yourself?
  • How would you see the revolution and its impact if you were a THIRD STATE or SECOND STATE OR FIRST STATE?

Try to question the associated events that you study under the French Revolution?

  • Economic and social inequalities in the Previous Regime of France helped cause theFrench Revolution (So, basically a fight for equality, rights, freedom, etc.)
  • What was the economic and social condition at that time? (Rich becoming richer and
    poor becoming poorer, isn’t it the case even now?)
  • Stakeholders involved and how they brought the revolution?
  • Impact of the revolution- what have we learned from the French Revolution etc.

What inference can you make from it for contemporary times?

  • Throughout history, economic and social inequalities have at times led peoples to revolt against their governments. Now relate with present World Order- can you think of countries where the same fight is going? Is India also the one? (Think – There is no boundary forgiving exercise to your mind)

Likewise, while you unfurl the French Revolution (living with it as a Time-Traveller), will surely connect and relate more to present context and its significance in today’s world order be it for having ideas like Liberty, Fraternity, Enlightenment, Fighting against the tyranny of Government, Scientific advancement, Societal changes over time, change in the value system, etc.

Try to make a chart or Mind Maps of the events or flow chart of keywords to have a better understanding of the topic. The revision will become easier. (In World History- remembering the set of events will help you answer the question provided you have a clear understanding of the storyline)

Such an approach will also help you write a very good ESSAY!

World history syllabus for UPSC

The UPSC has mentioned the world history syllabus very briefly. Therefore, most of the questions in the main examination seem to be asked from outside the syllabus. Due to this reason, we have to redraw the syllabus very intelligently.

If we analyze previous years UPSC Mains Paper 1 question paper, we will see that no question from world history was asked in 2018, 1 question was asked in 2017 (decolonization in the Malay Peninsula) and 1 question in 2016 (anti-colonial struggle by elite western educated individuals in West Africa). So, considering the trend, it would be wise not to spend too much time and energy on an in-depth study of World History.

According to UPSC notification, these topics are mentioned in the syllabus-

History of the world includes events, forms and effect on the society from 18th century like world wars, the industrial revolution, colonization, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc

World History Syllabus in detail-

  • Industrial Revolution
    • Decline of feudalism
    • Beginning of Renaissance
    • Pre-industrial Europe
    • Factors that led to the industrial revolution and its Impact
  • French Revolution
    • Causes of the revolution in France
    • France under Napoleon
    • Impact and Significance of revolution
  • Nationalism in Europe
  • Colonialism and Imperialism
    • Colonialism and its Analysis
    • The age of Imperialism (1870-1914)
    • Imperialism in Asia
  • Emergence of USA
    • Foundation of American Colonies
    • The Independence of the USA
    • The American Revolutionary War and its impact
    • Political Effects of the Revolution
    • How did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution?
  • World War-I
    • Causes and Course of the war
    • Consequences of World War I
    • The aftermath of World War I
    • League of Nations
  • Russian Revolution
    • Major events in pre-revolution Russia
    • Causes and Course of revolution
    • Consequences and Aftermath of the war
    • Post-Lenin Russia
  • Inter-War Years (1919 To 1939)
    • The Great Depression- an economic perspective
    • Rise of Fascism in Italy & Nazism in Germany
    • Soviet Union (USSR)
  • World War- II
    • Causes &Course of the war
    • Aftermath &Analysis of the war
    • Decolonization Phase
  • Development in the Middle East
    • Democratic reforms in the Middle East
    • Arab nationalism
    • Israel and Palestine
  • Cold War Era
    • Impact in India
      • Indian Policy
  • Post-Cold-War World
    • Global issues since 1991
    • Integration of Europe
    • Rise of global Islamic terrorism
    • Rise of China
  • Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism
    • Capitalism (concept, types, and example)
    • Communism (concept, types, example)
      • The relevance of capitalism in the present era

World history book for UPSC

Now two things can be done considering the time an aspirant is giving for preparation.

First, if an aspirant is starting the preparation a year before appearing for Prelims,

  • Story of Civilization Part-I & Part-II (Arjun Dev) old NCERT book.
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe.

But one thing should be kept in mind that any book that the aspirant is going through, he/she should have enough time to revise them at least three times.

Second, if the aspirant is only starting to prepare for world history after Prelims,

  • Only consider reading the Story of Civilization Part-I & Part-II (Arjun Dev) old NCERT book thoroughly, considering the lack of time and weight in mains paper.
  • Online Study Material of Lotus Arise on World history


You can refer (new NCERT) –

  • NCERT Class 9
  • NCERT Class 10
  • NCERT Class 11
  • Norman Lowe

Now let me tell you about Chapters of World History (which you have to read for world History)

  1. Renaissance period
  2. Industrial Revolution
  3. Mercantilism
  4. American Revolution
  5. French Revolution
  6. Unification of Germany
  7. Unification of Italy
  8. Rise of Imperialism in Japan
  9. World War-1
  10. Russian Revolution
  11. Fascism in Italy
  12. Nazism
  13. World War-2
  14. Chinese Revolution
  15. Colonization (Asia and Africa)
  16. Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism

Bold texts are Important topics and Bold+Blue are Very Important topics

World history questions in UPSC mains


  1. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the great economic depression?
  2. American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism. Substantiate.
  3. Africa was chopped into states artificially created by the accident of European competition. Analyze.
  4. “Latecomer” Industrial revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what west had the experience.


  1. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.
  2. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?
  3. What were the major political, economic, and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?


  1. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.
  2. Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present?


  1. The anti-colonial struggles in West Africa were led by the new elite of Western-educated Africans. Examine.


  1. What problems are germane to the decolonization process in the Malay Peninsula?


  • Nil


  1.  Explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid by the American and French revolutions.

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Pusparani Kujur

Hello.. can i get a note of History Optinal from here???