Best Geography Optional Booklist for UPSC IAS

Geography as a subject assumes a significant part in all competitive examinations. It assumes great significance in both Prelims and Mains examination of the IAS Exam. It is a vast subject dealing with the spatial association between individuals, places, and the earth and it broadly covers all spheres. If the approach to the subject is right, this is the most scoring optional that also helps in general studies paper. Many candidates have cracked UPSC Mains examination by opting geography as their optional subject.

Books for Geography Optional in UPSC CSE

An IAS aspirant should be in consistent touch with UPSC Geography Syllabus and should not go off-track while preparing for civil services exam.

IAS aspirants who have opted for Geography as their optional subject may also check Strategy to know – How to prepare Geography Optional for UPSC? at the linked article.

Which books to refer to for Geography Optional?

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.

Basic books

  2. Made Simple Series by Rupa Publication-Vol-I & II
  3. A certificate course in geography by Goh Cheng Leong

Reference Books

  1. Physical Geography- By Savindra Singh (If one wants to avoid specialized books for Physical Geography syllabus. There are 5 specialised books by Savindra Singh have certain specific chapters which are not covered through the above book. Coverage of above Physical Geography text book covers almost 80% of the physical geography syllabus). 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 books
    1. Geomorphology-By Savindra Singh
    2. Oceanography- By Savindra Singh
    3. Climatology- By Savindra Singh
    4. Environment Geography-By Savindra Singh
    5. Biogeography- By Savindra Singh
  1. Indian Geography by D R Khullar
  2. Human Geography by Majid Hussain
  3. Models and theories by Majid Hussain
  4. Geographical thought by Dixit
  5. Geographical thought by Sudipta Adhikary ( A good supplement for Thought topics)
  6. 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.
  7. Settlement Geography by K Siddhartha

Other References:

Like in all other subjects, and in GS, students must read up various magazines and current affairs based enrichment. Some of the sources one can be regular with are:

  1. Yojna
  2. Kurushektra
  3. Greagraphy and You

  4. NITI Aayog reports (particularly, those on Agriculture, Infra, Regional development, Rural development etc)
  5. Select UN docs on Population, development & Env. (UNDP is most helpful).


You should read below given links that may be beneficial to help in Choosing a good optional for your preparation:

How to Choose Optional for Mains?

Which Optional has Highest Success score?

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