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Important Topics of World History UPSC Mains 2022

Aug 19, 2022

Important Topics of World History UPSC Mains

In this blog post, we are going to go through a list of the most important topics to study for World History UPSC Mains and then have a look at the most recommended books for World History. 

World History in UPSC Mains preparation is a crucial part of General Studies Paper-I titled Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society.  

It is a part of the static syllabus; therefore, this section gets many repeated questions. Events that began in the 18th century onwards are considered a part of the syllabus. A benefit of thoroughly studying World History is that it makes preparation for International Relations in General Studies Paper-II easier. 

According to UPSC’s official syllabus, “History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on the society.

Now let us have a look at the type of questions UPSC asks from candidates. 

World History USPC Mains - Type of Questions

The UPSC states, “The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study. The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services.”

This is why UPSC never asks for minute details like figures and dates unless they are extremely important and critical to your answer. It demands a generalist and analytical approach from its candidates. Aspiring IAS officers should be able to analyze the causes and results of every event accurately. 

UPSC’s questions in World History might be indirect and analytical in nature. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to have a thorough understanding of World History. 

In fact, a thorough understanding of the entire subject of history can help you grasp and analyze Current Affairs easily. History preparation is really important for Prelims as well. So if you are preparing for UPSC 2023 then make sure that you prepare the subject thoroughly. 

Since you are preparing to enter into the government service, you must keep checking the official websites of the government every time you are studying a related subject. For example, if you want to dive deep into the past, you can also check out the official website of the National Archives of India

Coming back to our objective, let us go through the list of important topics for World History UPSC Mains. 

Important Topics in World History for UPSC Mains 

Given below you will find the list of important topics in World History beginning from the 18th century. 

Start of the Modern World and end of the Middle Ages

  • Renaissance
  • Discovery of Sea Routes
  • Reformation
  • Counter-Reformation
  • Industrial Revolution
  • European Nations Settle North America
  • Rise of Slave Trade

The American Revolution

  • Foundation of American Colonies
  • The Independence of United States of America
  • The American Revolutionary War
  • Impact of American Revolution
  • United States Civil War
  • Impact of Civil War on the United States of America
  • Global Impact of the United States’ Civil War
  • Impact of the Civil War on India

French Revolution

  • Causes
  • The revolution in France
  • France under Napoleon
  • Impact of the revolution
  • Significance of the revolution

Nationalism in Europe

  • Rise of the nation-state system
  • Unification of Italy
  • Unification of Germany

Colonialism, Capitalism & Imperialism

  • Colonialism
  • The age of Imperialism (1870-1914)
  • Imperialism in Asia
  • Analysis of Colonialism

Before we start the important topics under World War I, here is a video you must watch:


In this video, Mr. Hemant Jha, ace UPSC Faculty discusses the most important history-related topics in GS Paper-I (Mains). 

World War I

  • Causes - What led to the War?
  • Scope & Course of the War
  • The Russian Revolution
    • Pre-Revolution Russia - Major events
    • Causes of the Revolution 
    • Course of the Revolution
    • Consequences of the Revolution
    • Aftermath of the World War I
    • Post-Lenin Russia
  • End of the War & Peace Treaties
  • Consequences of the War
  • Rise of the League of Nations

The Time Between the Two World Wars

  • Europe After the War – Fascism & Nazism
  • The Great Depression
  • Emergence of the Soviet Union
  • Nationalist Movements in Asia & Africa
  • United States emerges as a strong power

World War II

  • Fascist Aggression & Response of Western Democracies
  • Outbreak of the War
  • Theatres of the War - Places where the War took place
  • US Entry into the War
  • Global Nature of the War
  • The Holocaust
  • Resistance Movements
  • After-effects of the War

Also Read: Etikoppaka Wooden Toy Craft

Decolonisation & Redrawing of National Boundaries

  • Europe after World War II
  • Cold War (Impact inside Europe and Outside Europe)
    • 1945-1949 - The Civil War in China
    • Marshall Plan
    • Truman Doctrine
    • Policy of Containment
  • Rise of Asia & Africa
  • Developments in West Asia & North Africa
  • Spread of Communism
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Cuban Crisis
  • Collapse of Soviet Union

Definition, Types & Social Impact

  • Communism
  • Capitalism
  • Socialism

We have come to an end of the list of important topics for World History-UPSC Mains. We hope you found it useful. 

To make your World History preparation easier, we have listed below a few recommended books for studying. 

Important Books for World History - UPSC Mains

To make your preparation easier, here is a list of the most recommended World History Books for UPSC. 

  • NCERT Books
  • Norman Lowe - Mastering Modern History
  • Jain and Mathur - History of the Modern World
  • B.V. Rao - History of the Modern World 

These books are highly recommended by experts. Once you have finished reading the topics you need, you must test your knowledge with a few mock tests that are in line with the exam pattern. The importance of mock tests cannot be understated as they help you remember what you have studied longer. 

Also read: Why Mock Tests are a Must for UPSC CSE Preparation.

If you need high-quality mock tests, you can find them on the PrepLadder App. In addition, you will find expertly curated notes, and well-planned video lectures comprising India’s top UPSC faculties. 

For more interesting topics like World history UPSC, keep following our articles and Telegram channel to keep yourself updated with the latest information about the exam. 

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Arindam is a Content Marketer who looks after the Medical Super Specialty segment, specifically the NEET SS category, at PrepLadder. He aims to help aspirants crack exams and realize their dreams through his work.


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