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UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Syllabus 2023-24 - IAS Prelims & Mains Syllabus

UPSC exams are considered to be the most prestigious exams in India. However, anyone can crack it with the right strategy and a deep understanding of the syllabus. UPSC Syllabus is essential to know what topics to read and what issues to avoid while preparing for the UPSC exam. This is the key to understanding what needs to be read and what not to read for UPSC preparation. UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts the IAS exam yearly to recruit for civil services. UPSC provides the IAS syllabus on the official website during the release of official notification for the civil services exam.

Syllabus of IAS 2020 IPS, IFS examination IPS syllabus 2020

The UPSC Exam has three stages:

1. Preliminary Exam (Prelims)
2. Main Exam (Mains)
3. Interview Round (Personality test)

There is a common UPSC syllabus for services (Group A and Group B) such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Revenue Service, etc. There is a different syllabus for each stage of the UPSC Exam.

UPSC Syllabus for Preliminary Exam

The preliminary exam is the first stage of the UPSC Civil services exams. The syllabus for this exam is designed to access the general awareness and aptitude of an IAS aspirant.

It is a compulsory and qualifying paper. The questions in this exam are objective in nature.
The preliminary examination is only meant for screening a candidate for the next stages of the exam.

The marks obtained in preliminary will not be counted in ranking since the paper is of qualifying nature.
The Preliminary Exam consists of 2 papers:

1. General Studies paper 1
2. General Studies paper 2
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General studiesNo. of QuestionsNo. of MarksDuration
Paper-1100200120 minutes(2 hours)
Paper -280200120 minutes(2 hours)
Total180400250 minutes(4 hours)

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for General studies paper-1



Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

• Current events of national and international importance.
• History of India and Indian National Movement.
• Indian and World Geography- Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
• Indian Polity and Governance- Constitution, Political System. Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, Etc.
• Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
• General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate change – that do not require subject specialization.
• General Science.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for General studies paper-2 (CSAT)

This paper is also known as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). It tests the analytical, logical and reasonable ability of the candidate.
1. Comprehension Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
2. Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
3. Decision making and problem-solving.
4. General mental ability.
4. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. — Class X level).
Both papers have negative marks for wrong answers which will be marked as 1/3rd of the total marks assigned to the question.
Questions that are not attempted will not get any negative marks. Candidates need to score at least 33% to appear in the Mains exam. The ‘Decision Making’ based questions are mostly exempted from negative marks in CSAT.

Note 1 : Questions relating to English language Comprehension skills of Class x level (last item in the Syllabus of Paper II) will be tested through passages from English language only without providing Hindi translation thereof in the question paper.

Note 2 : The questions will be of multiple choices, objective type. One – third marks will be deducted for every wrong answer.

Note 3 : The preliminary examination is meant to serve as a screening test only. The marks obtained in the prelims exam will not be counted for determining their final order of merit. It is eligibility test for admission to the main examination.

Note 4 : Examination (Prelims) conducts in the month of May every year. But in 2014 the Prelims Exam will be held in the month of August.

Note 5 : Result comes in October first Week. The number of total candidates to be declare qualified in this (Pre) exam will be about ten to twelve (10-12) times the total approximate number of vacancies to be filled in that particular year.

UPSC Syllabus for Main Exam

Mains exam is the second stage of the UPSC Exam. This exam is descriptive in nature. The main exam consists of 9 papers. It consists of 2 qualifying papers and 7 Merit papers.
The marks obtained in English and Hindi (Any Indian Language) (Paper A and B) are of qualifying nature and will not be counted for ranking. The question papers of these papers will be of Conventional (Essay type)
The Commission will release the list of candidates shortlisted for the Civil Services Main Exam based on merit and reservation.

The structure of Qualifying papers:

PaperSubjectMaximum MarksDurationNature
Paper AAny Indian language300 (25% For Qualifying)3 HoursQualifying
Paper BEnglish paper300 (25% For Qualifying)3 Hours QualifyingQUALIFYING

Qualifying papers:
1. Paper-A: Indian Language
One of the Indian Languages has to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

(i) comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precise Writing.
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv) Short Essays.
(v) Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.

Note: This paper will not be compulsory for candidates coming from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim.

2. Paper-B: English
The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :
(i) Comprehension of given passages.
(ii) Precise Writing.
(iii) Usage and Vocabulary.
(iv) Short Essays.

Note: A Student must obtain 25% marks in Paper A and Paper B as minimum qualifying standards to appear in Paper I to VII. Aspirants should answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where the translation is involved).

List of Indian Language:
1. Assamese
2. Bengali
3. Bodo
4. Dogri
5. Gujarati
6. Hindi
7. Kannada
8. Kashmiri
9. Konkani
10. Maithili
11. Malayalam
12. Manipuri
13. Marathi
14. Nepali
15. Oriya
16. Punjabi
17. Sanskrit
18. Santhali
19. Sindhi
20. Tamil
21. Telugu
22. Urdu
23. English


The structure of Merit papers:

PaperSubjectMaximum MarksDuration
Paper-IEssay2503 Hours
Paper-IIGeneral Studies-I2503 Hours
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies-II2503 Hours
Paper-IVGeneral Studies-III2503 Hours
Paper-VGeneral Studies-IV2503 Hours
Paper-VIOptional Subject – Paper 12503 Hours
Paper-VIIOptional Subject – Paper 22503 Hours

Merit Papers:
1. Paper-1 (Essay)
Aspirants should write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep close 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.

2. Paper-II (General Studies-I)
Subject: Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of the World and Society

Indian Heritage: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Modern Indian History: 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.

World History: History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redraw of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.— their forms and effect on society.

Indian 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: Salient features of the world’s physical geography. Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent);

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.

3. Paper-III(General Studies-II)
Subject: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations

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.

Indian Polity: 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, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Social Justice: 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. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Indian Governance: 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.

4. Paper IV(General Studies-III)
Subject: Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Indian Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Government Budgeting. Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System. Food processing and related industries in India. Land reforms in India. 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.

Science and Technology: 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.

Environment & Biodiversity: Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Disaster Management: Disaster and disaster management.

Security: 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, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; money. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

5. Paper V (General Studies-IV)
Subject: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude

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; the role of family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

Aptitude: 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: Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the 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 the above issues.

6 & 7. Optional Subject – Paper 1 and 2
Candidates may choose any optional subject from amongst the list of optional subjects. Aspirants can also choose one Indian language as an optional subject amongst the list.

1. Agriculture
2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3. Anthropology
4. Botany
5. Chemistry
6. Civil Engineering
7. Commerce and Accountancy
8. Economics
9. Electrical Engineering
10. Geography
11. Geology
12. History
13. Law
14. Management
15. Mathematics
16. Mechanical Engineering
17. Medical Science
18. Philosophy
19. Physics
20. Political Science and International Relations
21. Psychology
22. Public Administration
23. Sociology
24. Statistics
25. Zoology
26. Indian Language

Public Administration

Administrative Theory

1. Introduction : Meaning, scope and significance of Public Administration; Wilson’s vision of Public Administration, Evolution of the discipline and its present status, New Public Administration; PublicChoice approach; Challenges of liberalization Privatisation, Globalisation, Good Governance, concept and application; New Public Management.

2. Administrative Thought : Scientific Management and Scientific Management movement. Classical Theory; Webers’ bureaucratic model-its critique and past-Weberian developments; Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett): Human Relation Theory (Elton Mayo and others}; Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard); simon’s decisions making theory; Participative Management (R. Likert. C. Argyris, D. McGregor).

3. Administrative Behaviour : Process and techniques of decision-making; Communication; Morale, Motivation Theories Content, process and contemporary, ’ Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern.

4. Organizations : Theories-systems, contingency; Structure and farms: Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies, Board and Commissions; Ad hoc and advisory bodies; Headquarters and Field relationship; Regulatory Authorities; Public -Private Partnerships.

5. Accountability And Control: Concepts of accountability and control; Legislative, Executive and Judicial control over administration, Citizen and Administration’ Role of media, interest groups, voluntary, organizations, Civil society; Citizen’s, Characters; Right to information; Social audit.

6. Administrative Law: Meaning, Scope and significance, Dicey an Administrative Law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals.

7. Comparative Public Administration: Historical and Sociological factors affecting administrative systems; Administration and politics in different countries, Current status of Comparative Public Administration; Ecology and administration, Riggsian models and their critique.

8. Development Dynamics: Concepts of development; Changing profile of development administration; Anti-development thesis’Bureaucracy and development; Strong state versus ‘the market debate; Impact of liberalisation an administration-in developing countries; Women-and development -the self-help group movement.

9. Personnel Administration: Importance of human resource development-Recruitment training; career advancement, position classification discipline, performance appraisal, promotion;’ pay· and service conditions; employer- employee relations, grievance redressal mechanism; Code of conduct; Administration ethics,

10. Public Policy: Models of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualization, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review and their limitations; State theories and public policy formulation.

11. Techniques Of Administrative Improvement: Organization and methods, Work study, and work management; e-governance and”: ‘information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERTCPM.

12. Financial Administration: Monetary” and. fiscal policies; Public borrowings ‘and’ public- debt Budgets types and farms; Budgetary process: Financial accountability: Accounts -and audit.


1. Evolution Of Indian Administration : Kautilya’s Arthashastra; Mughal administration; Legacy of British rule in politics and administration Indianization of public: services, revenue administration, district administration, local self-government.

2. Philosophical And Constitutional Framework of Government : Main feature, constitualism, political culture, Bureaucracy and Democracy, Bureaucracy and Development.

3. Public Sector Undertakings: Public sectors in modern India; Forms of Public Sector undertakings; Problems of autonomy, accountability and control Impact of liberalization and privatization.

4. Union Government And Administration: Executive, Parliament, Judiciary-Structure, functions, work processes, Recent trends; Intergovernmental relations; Cabinet Secretariat; Prime Minister’s Offices; Central Secretariat; Ministries and Department; Boards, Commissions; Attached offices; Field organizations.

5. Plans And Priorities: Machinery of planning; Role, composition and function of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council; ‘Indicative’ planning; Process of plan formulation at Union and. Stat levels; Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice.

6. State Government And Administration: Union – state administrative; administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates.

7. District Administration Since Independence: Changing role of the Collector; Unionstate -local relations; Imperatives of development management and law and order administration; District administration and democratic decentralization.

8. Civil Services: Constitutional position; Structure’, recruitment training and capacitybuilding; Good governance initiatives; Code of conduct and discipline: Staff associations; Political rights; Grievance redressal mechanism; Civil service neutrality; Civil Service activism.

9. Financial Management: Budge as a political instrument; Parliamentary control of public expenditure; Role of finance ministry in monetary and fiscal area; Accounting techniques; Audit; Role of Controller General of Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

10. Administrative Reforms Since Independence: Major concerns; Important Committees and Commissions, Reforms in financial management and human-resource development: Problems of implementation.

11. Rural Development: Institutions and agencies since independence; Rural development programmes: local strategies; Decentralisation and Panchayati Raj: 73 Constitutional amendment.

12. Urban -Local Government: Municipal governance: main features, structures, finance th and problem areas; 74 Constitutional Amendment; Global – local debate; New’ localism;’ Development dynamics, politics and administration with special reference to city management.

13. Law And Order Administration: British legacy; National Police Commission; Investigative agencies; Role of central and state agencies including paramilitary forces -i n maintenance of law and .order. and countering insurgency ‘and terrorism;’ Criminalisation of Politics and administration; Police, public relations; Reforms in Police.

14. Significant Issues In Indian Administration: Values in Public service: Regulatory Commission; National Human Rights Commission; Problems of administration’ in coalition regimes; .Citizen- administration interface; Corruption and administrationDisaster management.

Interview Round

The board will test the candidates on various areas like their career and general interest. The assessment will be based on the intellectual qualities along with their social traits and his interests in current affairs.

The board will also assess the candidate’s mental caliber. The qualities that will be judged are mental alertness, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.

This round will determine if a candidate is fit for a career in Civil Services.