UPSC Syllabus

By April 30, 2018 One Comment
Attention: The internal data of table “5” is corrupted!

General Studies Paper I
1. Current events of national and international importance
2. History of India and Indian national movement
3. Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the world
4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political system, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights issues, etc.
5. Economic and Social development – sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives etc.
6. General issues on environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change-that do not require subject specialization
7. General science

1. Comprehension
2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
3. Logical reasoning and analytical ability
4. Decision making and problem solving
5. General mental ability
6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude etc.) (Class X level), Data Interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. – Class X level)
7. English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)
8. Questions relating to English Language Comprehension skills of Class X level. (will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation)

The Mains is the most important stage in UPSC. It is the make or break step for getting a selected and achieving your dream. The syllabus of Mains is divided as follows:
1. Qualifying Papers

Attention: The internal data of table “3” is corrupted!

2. Papers to be counted for merit

Attention: The internal data of table “4” is corrupted!

For the optional papers in the Main Examination, UPSC has a list of about twenty-six subjects out of which any one subject has to be selected by the candidate

The syllabus for the mains as given by UPSC is:
Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given.
They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

General Studies- I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.
Indian Heritage and Culture
• Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
• Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
• The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
• Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
• 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.
• Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
• Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
• Effects of globalization on Indian society
• Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Geography of the World
• Salient features of world’s physical geography.
• Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)
• Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
Governance, Constitution, Polity
• Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
• Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
• Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
• Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
• Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
• Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.3
• Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
• Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
• Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
• Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
• Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
Social Justice
• Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
• Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
• Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
• Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
• Role of civil services in a democracy.
International relations
• India and its neighborhood- relations.
• Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
• Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
• Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
Economic Development
• Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
• Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
• Government Budgeting.
• Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
• Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
• Investment models.
• Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
• Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
• Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
• Land reforms in India.
• Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
• Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
• Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
• Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Disaster Management
• Disaster and disaster management.
• Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
• Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
• Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
• Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
• Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

General Studies- IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.
• Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
• Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
• Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
• Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
• Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
• Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.
• Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
Case Studies on above issues.

Optional Subject Syllabus


Physical Geography:
1. Geomorphology: Factors controlling landform development; endogenetic and exogenetic forces; Origin and evolution of the earth’s crust; Fundamentals of geomagnetism; Physical conditions of the earth’s interior;
Geosynclines; Continental drift; Isostasy; Plate tectonics; Recent views on mountain building; Vulcanicity; Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Concepts of geomorphic cycles and Landscape development ; Denudation chronology; Channel morphology; Erosion surfaces; Slope development; Applied Geomorphology : Geohydrology, economic geology and environment.

2. Climatology: Temperature and pressure belts of the world; Heat budget of the earth; Atmospheric circulation; atmospheric stability and instability. Planetary and local winds; Monsoons and jet streams; Air masses and fronto genesis, Temperate and tropical cyclones; Types and distribution of precipitation; Weather and Climate; Koppen’s, Thornthwaite’s and Trewartha’s classification of world climates; Hydrological cycle; Global climatic change and role and response of man in climatic changes, Applied climatology and Urban climate.

3. Oceanography: Bottom topography of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans; Temperature and salinity of the oceans; Heat and salt budgets, Ocean deposits; Waves, currents and tides; Marine resources: biotic, mineral and energy resources; Coral reefs, coral bleaching; sea level changes; law of the sea and marine pollution.

4. Biogeography: Genesis of soils; Classification and distribution of soils; Soil profile; Soil erosion, Degradation and conservation; Factors influencing world distribution of plants and animals; Problems of deforestation and conservation measures; Social forestry; agro-forestry; Wild life; Major gene pool centres.

5. Environmental Geography: Principle of ecology; Human ecological adaptations; Influence of man on ecology and environment; Global and regional ecological changes and imbalances; Ecosystem their management and conservation; Environmental degradation, management and conservation; Biodiversity and sustainable development; Environmental policy; Environmental hazards and remedial measures; Environmental education and legislation.

Human Geography:
1. Perspectives in Human Geography: Areal differentiation; regional synthesis; Dichotomy and dualism; Environmentalism; Quantitative revolution and locational analysis; radical, behavioural, human and welfare approaches; Languages, religions and secularisation; Cultural regions of the world; Human development index.

2. Economic Geography: World economic development: measurement and problems; World resources and their distribution; Energy crisis; the limits to growth; World agriculture: typology of agricultural regions; agricultural inputs and productivity; Food and nutrition problems; Food security; famine: causes, effects and remedies; World industries: locational patterns and problems; patterns of world trade.

3. Population and Settlement Geography: Growth and distribution of world population; demographic attributes; Causes and consequences of migration; concepts of over-under-and optimum population; Population
theories, world population problems and policies, Social well-being and quality of life; Population as social capital. Types and patterns of rural settlements; Environmental issues in rural settlements; Hierarchy of urban settlements; Urban morphology: Concepts of primate city and rank-size rule; Functional classification of towns; Sphere of urban influence; Rural urban fringe; Satellite towns; Problems and remedies of urbanization; Sustainable development of cities.

4. Regional Planning: Concept of a region; Types of regions and methods of regionalisation; Growth centres and growth poles; Regional imbalances; regional development strategies; environmental issues in regional planning; Planning for sustainable development.

5. Models, Theories and Laws in Human Geography: Systems analysis in Human geography; Malthusian, Marxian and demographic transition models; Central Place theories of Christaller and Losch;Perroux and Boudeville; Von Thunen’s model of agricultural location; Weber’s model of industrial location; Ostov’s model of stages of growth. Heartland and Rimland theories; Laws of international boundaries and frontiers.


1. Physical Setting: Space relationship of India with neighboring countries; Structure and relief; Drainage system and watersheds; Physiographic regions; Mechanism of Indian monsoons and rainfall patterns, Tropical cyclones and western disturbances; Floods and droughts; Climatic regions; Natural vegetation; Soil types and their distributions.

2. Resources: Land, surface and ground water, energy, minerals, biotic and marine resources; Forest and wild life resources and their conservation; Energy crisis.

3. Agriculture: Infrastructure: irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, power; Institutional factors: land holdings, land
tenure and land reforms; Cropping pattern, agricultural productivity, agricultural intensity, crop combination, land capability; Agro and social-forestry; Green revolution and its socio-economic and ecological implications; Significance of dry farming; Livestock resources and white revolution; aqua – culture; sericulture, apiculture and poultry; agricultural regionalisation; agro-climatic zones; agro- ecological regions.

4. Industry: Evolution of industries; Locational factors of cotton, jute, textile, iron and steel, aluminium, fertilizer, paper, chemical and pharmaceutical, automobile, cottage and agro-based industries; Industrial houses and complexes including public sector undertakings; Industrial regionalisation; New industrial policies; Multinationals and liberalization; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including eco-tourism.

5. Transport, Communication and Trade: Road, railway, waterway, airway and pipeline networks and their complementary roles in regional development; Growing importance of ports on national and foreign trade; Trade balance; Trade Policy; Export processing zones; Developments in communication and information technology and their impacts on economy and society; Indian space programme.

6. Cultural Setting: Historical Perspective of Indian Society; Racial, linguistic and ethnic diversities; religious minorities; major tribes, tribal areas and their problems; cultural regions; Growth, distribution and density of population; Demographic attributes: sex-ratio, age structure, literacy rate, work-force, dependency ratio, longevity; migration (inter-regional, intra- regional and international) and associated problems; Population problems and policies; Health indicators.

7. Settlements: Types, patterns and morphology of rural settlements; Urban developments; Morphology of Indian cities; Functional classification of Indian cities; Conurbations and metropolitan regions; urban sprawl; Slums and associated problems; town planning; Problems of urbanization and remedies.

8. Regional Development and Planning: Experience of regional planning in India; Five Year Plans; Integrated rural development programmes; Panchayati Raj and decentralised planning; Command area development; Watershed management; Planning for backward area, desert, drought prone, hill, tribal area development; multi-level planning; Regional planning and development of island territories.

9. Political Aspects: Geographical basis of Indian federalism; State reorganisation; Emergence of new states; Regional consciousness and inter state issues; international boundary of India and related issues; Cross border terrorism; India’s role in world affairs; Geopolitics of South Asia and Indian Ocean realm.

10. Contemporary Issues: Ecological issues: Environmental hazards: landslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods and droughts, epidemics; Issues relating to environmental pollution; Changes in patterns of land use;
Principles of environmental impact assessment and environmental management; Population explosion and food


1. Sociology – The Discipline: Modernity and social changes in Europe and emergence of sociology. Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences. Sociology and common sense.

2. Sociology as Science: Science, scientific method and critique. Major theoretical strands of research methodology. Positivism and its critique. Fact value and objectivity. Non- positivist methodologies.

3. Research Methods and Analysis: Qualitative and quantitative methods. Techniques of data collection. Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.

4. Sociological Thinkers: Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle. Emile Durkheim- Division of labour, social fact, suicide, religion and society. Max Weber- Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism Talcolt Parsons- Social system, pattern variables. Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups Mead – Self and identity.

5. Stratification and Mobility: Concepts- equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty and deprivation, Theories of social stratification- Structural functionalist theory, Marxist theory, Weberian theory. Dimensions: Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity and race. Social mobility- open and closed systems, types of mobility, sources and causes of mobility.

6. Works and Economic Life: Social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, feudal society, industrial /capitalist society. Formal and informal organization of work Labour and society.

7. Politics and Society: Sociological theories of power, Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties. Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology. Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.

8. Religion and Society: Sociological theories of religion. Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults. Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.

9. Systems of Kinship: Family, household, marriage. Types and forms of family. Lineage and descent, Patriarchy and sexual division of labour, Contemporary trends.

10. Social Change in Modern Society: Sociological theories of social change. Development and dependency. Agents of social change. Education and social change. Science, technology and social change.

1. INDIAN SOCIETY : STRUCTURE AND CHANGE: Introducing Indian Society: Perspectives on the study of Indian society: Indology (GS. Ghurye). Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas). Marxist sociology ( A R Desai).

2. Impact of colonial rule on Indian society: Social background of Indian nationalism. Modernization of Indian tradition. Protests and movements during the colonial period. Social reforms.

3. Social Structure: Rural and Agrarian Social Structure: The idea of Indian village and village studies, Agrarian social structure- evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.

4. Caste System: Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille. Features of caste system. Untouchability – forms and perspectives

5. Tribal communities in India: Definitional problems. Geographical spread. Colonial policies and tribes. Issues of integration and autonomy.

6. Social Classes in India. Agrarian class structure. Industrial class structure. Middle classes in India.

7. Systems of Kinship in India: Lineage and descent in India. Types of kinship systems. Family and marriage in India. Household dimensions of the family. Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour.

8. Religion and Society: Religious communities in India. Problems of religious minorities.

9. Social Changes in India: Visions of Social Change in India: Idea of development planning and mixed economy. Constitution, law and social change. Education and social change.

10. Rural and Agrarian transformation in India: Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes. Green revolution and social change. Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture. Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.

11. Industrialization and Urbanisation in India: Evolution of modern industry in India. Growth of urban settlements in India. Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization. Informal sector, child labour. Slums and deprivation in urban areas.

12. Politics and Society: Nation, democracy and citizenship. Political parties, pressure groups , social and political elite. Regionalism and decentralization of power. Secularization

13. Social Movements in Modern India: Peasants and farmers movements. Women’s movement. Backward classes & Dalit movement. Environmental movements. Ethnicity and Identity movements.

14. Population Dynamics: Population size, growth, composition and distribution. Components of population growth: birth, death, migration. Population policy and family planning. Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.

15. Challenges of Social Transformation: Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability. Poverty, deprivation and inequalities. Violence against women. Caste conflicts. Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism. Illiteracy and disparities in education.

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Akshay Palande

Author: Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

Akshay Palande

Author Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

More posts by Akshay Palande

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  • Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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