In this research, graphene oxide-zinc oxide nanocomposite film (GO-ZnO) was prepared by cost-effective solvothermal, spin-spray coating methods and studied for its UV sensing properties. I-V curve of prepared nanocomposite was recorded under illumination of an ultraviolet lamp. SEM and TEM images indicated the layer formation of GO and showed a uniform distribution of ZnO nanoparticles into GO nanosheets. XRD, Raman and EDX results indicated characteristic peaks of GO, ZnO and related elements in composite. For the first time based on ion beam induced luminescence (IBIL) study, GO-ZnO nanocomposite exhibited strong light emission in the UV-blue range at room temperature. The photoluminescence and IBIL investigations indicated that the optical quality of the GO-ZnO nanocomposite was improved compared with pure ZnO. The sensitivity in GO-ZnO composite and ZnO sample for = 5 v was obtained about 24 and 3 respectively. The GO-ZnO nanocomposite with ZnO particle size of 20–30 nm showed higher sensitivity and faster response time as compared to bare ZnO. According to obtained results, it is anticipated that GO-ZnO nanocomposite would hold suitable potential for application in UV–Vis optoelectronic devices.