UPSC Syllabus – Syllabus of UPSC 2021

The Civil Services Exam (CSE) is a nationwide exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in India for recruitment of various designated posts viz IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service), IFS (Indian Foreign Service), IRS (Indian Revenue Service) and allied services. It is important to be aware of the UPSC syllabus for preparing for this coveted exam.

This exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India. Hence, to be able to get through the exam successfully, candidates should know the syllabus of the exam in detail. This article details the UPSC exam pattern as well as UPSC Exam syllabus 2021.

UPSC Civil Services Exam is conducted in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Preliminary Examination (Objective Section)
  • Phase 2: Main Examination (Subjective Section)
  • Phase 3: Personality Development Test

Phase 3: Personality Development Test

The entire process of Prelims, Mains and Personality Development Test or Interview takes around a year to complete. As per the trends of the previous year, UPSC follows the following exam calendar every year:

Event Date
Release of Notification Last week of February
Prelims Exam First week of June
Mains Exam September/October
Interview Process March of the following year
Final Result April/May of the following year

Phase 1: Preliminary Examination

UPSC Syllabus For Prelims

The UPSC Civil Services Prelims has two papers namely General Studies-I and General Studies-II (CSAT). Check out the UPSC syllabus for both the papers below:

UPSC Syllabus for Prelims: 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 General Science

UPSC Syllabus For Prelims: Paper-II

  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)

Phase 2: UPSC Civil Services Main Examination

UPSC Syllabus For Civil Services Mains Examination

PAPER-I Essay:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

PAPER-II General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature & Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  2. Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  3. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  5. History of the World will include events from the 18th century, such as Industrial Revolution, World Wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc., – their forms and effects on the society.
  6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organizations, 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.
  7. Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  8. 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, cyclones, 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.

PAPER-III General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations.

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.
  2. 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.
  3. Separation of powers between various organs,dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  7. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  8. 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.
  9. Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  10. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Center and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  11. Issues related to development and management of Social Sector/Services in the field of Health, Education, Human Resources.
  12. Issues related to poverty and hunger.
  13. Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, e-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  14. Role of Civil Services in a democracy.
  15. 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.
  16. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

PAPER-IV General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  2. Government Budgeting. 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;
  3. E-technology in the aid of farmers Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices;
  4. Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  5. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  6. Land reforms in India. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  7. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  8. Investment models. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievement of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  9. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  10. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
  11. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  12. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  13. 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.
  14. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

PAPER-V 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 utilize 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.

  1. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  2. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  3. 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.
  4. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  5. 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.
  6. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;
  7. 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.

Paper-VI : Optional Paper-I

  1. Optional Subject -Paper I (250 Marks)

Paper-VII : Optional Paper-II

  1. Optional Subject – Paper II (250 marks)

Phase 3: Interview/Personality Test (275 Marks)

  1. Candidates who qualify the UPSC Mains Exam will move to the next and final phase called Personality Test/Interview, where the candidate will be interviewed by a Board. The Board will have the candidate’s DAF (Detail Application Form) with them.
  2. The interview round is held by a competent and unbiased Board, intended to assess candidate’s social traits and his interest in current affairs. The motive of the board is to analyse the personal aptness of the candidate for a career in public service
  3. Candidates can give interviews in their preferred language as UPSC will make arrangements for the translators.

Personality Test:

  1. The Interview test will be of 275 marks.
  2. The total mark of the written examination is 1750 Marks.
  3. The Interview/Personality Test will be of 275 marks.
  4. The Grand Total 2025 Marks
  5. Read more | Preparation Strategy for UPSC Civil Services Interview

Download UPSC Syllabus PDF

Download the UPSC Syllabus PDF.

UPSC Syllabus FAQs

Q. What is the UPSC Syllabus for the Civil Services exam?

Ans. UPSC Syllabus is notified in the UPSC notification every year. In short, we can say it includes everything which is linked and relevant to India and our citizens.

Q. How many optional subjects are there in UPSC Syllabus?

Ans. The total number of subjects in the UPSC exam is 48. UPSC provides full opportunity to all the candidates to select his subject from the list of optional subjects notified in the UPSC notifications every year. There are 25 subjects and 23 literature languages subjects to choose from.

Q. How many language literature subjects are there in UPSC Syllabus?

Ans. There are 23 literature subjects in the UPSC syllabus. The candidates can opt for any literature subject. The list of the subjects is given above for the perusal.

Q. How to prepare UPSC syllabus?

Ans. UPSC syllabus can only be prepared with the right strategy. The candidates need to study the fundamentals first and then go for the application part of the topics. Interlinking the topics is the key to scoring more marks in the UPSC exam.

Q. How much time will it take to cover the UPSC Syllabus?

Ans. UPSC syllabus can be covered in 1.5 to 2 years’ time with a consistent effort The UPSC toppers and mentors always suggest covering the UPSC main syllabus first.

Q. What are the sources to prepare the UPSC Syllabus?

Ans. The topics given in the UPSC syllabus should be covered through the standard textbooks. Starting with the NCERT books, the candidates should prepare the topics from the standard reference books and relate it with the newspapers.

Q. Is UPSC Syllabus covers everything?

Ans. The IAS syllabus covers everything which is relevant to India and Indian citizens. But in the case of the Science and Technology area, there are no limits for the UPSC syllabus. Previous year’s question papers can immensely help in ascertaining the boundaries of UPSC syllabus.

Q. What is the role of current affairs in the UPSC syllabus?

Ans. Current Affairs plays a very important role for UPSC preparation. All the topics in the UPSC Syllabus need to be linked with the current events national and International happenings. Current affairs should have the roots in the static General Studies Topics.

Q. Which subjects are best for UPSC Exam?

Ans. There is no right answer to these questions. Every year is different and every year the passing percentage of each subject is different. But after analyzing the trend, we can say that the following subjects have the highest success ratio are Law, Medical Science, Psychology, Anthropology, Geography.

Q. Where anyone can get details of UPSC syllabus topics?

Ans. The UPSC prelims syllabus is not well defined in the UPSC notification. But the UPSC main exam syllabus is very well defined and explained in the notification itself. The candidates need to read, understand, learn and explore the UPSC main syllabus.

Q. Does UPSC Syllabus changes every year?

Ans. No, UPSC syllabus is very much static and before changing the syllabus, the UPSC needs to take approval from the Ministry of Personnel and Training.