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UPSC CSE Syllabus

In this article, you will find the complete UPSC CSE syllabus 2021- 2022  for the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The syllabus is vast and contains much information, so you need to have patience while going through this article.

In order to understand the UPSC exam, it is important to understand the UPSC CSE syllabus. Understanding the syllabus helps to eliminate unnecessary efforts like reading unnecessary topics and gathering hell lot of materials. If you read your syllabus carefully, it will save a lot of time and effort. The syllabus clearly specifies that what UPSC demands, so go through this article and you will know everything about the Syllabus of UPSC CSE.

The UPSC IAS syllabus can be found at the UPSC official website – https://upsc.gov.in/ or scroll down to download the UPSC CSE syllabus pdf for both Prelims and Mains. Aspirants can also download the IAS Syllabus in Hindi|UPSC Syllabus in Hindi.

There is a common UPSC CSE syllabus pattern for services such as the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, to name a few. However, different stages of the IAS exam have a different syllabus, but an integrated approach for preparation is always recommended. Read about the comprehensive approach for preparation for Pre-cum-Mains 2021.

The UPSC CSE is conducted in three phases:

Phase 1: Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type)

Phase 2: Civil Services (Mains) Examination (Descriptive Type)

Phase 3: Personal Interview (Personality Test)

Phase 1: UPSC Prelims Exam

The UPSC Civil Services Prelims Examination collectively comprises of two parts:

1) General Studies

The UPSC CSE Prelims syllabus focuses on general and societal awareness. The answer mode for this exam is offline, and it is tested by objective-type (MCQ) questions.

2) Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

CSAT Paper is to test the comprehensive knowledge of reasoning along with aptitude and basic mathematics.

  • Broadly, the UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination consists of two papers of objective type, each of 200 marks (hence totaling 400 marks) and of two hours duration. To qualify for the Civil Services Mains, a candidate must attempt both the papers.
  • Further, the UPSC General Studies (GS) paper consists of 100 questions, while the CSAT paper consists of 80 questions. Both papers have negative marks for wrong answers marked to the tune of 1/3rd of the total marks assigned to that question.
  • To further illustrate this, each correctly answered GS question will be awarded 2 marks. So, 0.66 marks would be deducted from the total for every question that is wrongly marked.
  • Similarly, in the CSAT paper, since we have 80 questions for 200 marks, correctly answered CSAT question would attract 2.5 marks each, while every wrongly marked question would attract a penalty of 0.833 for each such wrong answer, which will be deducted from the total.
  • Questions that are not attempted will not attract any negative marks.
Number of Papers2 compulsory papers

(General Studies+ CSAT)

Type of QuestionsObjective (MCQ) type
Total Maximum Marks400 (200 each paper)
Duration of Exam2 hrs. each (20 minutes per hour extra time for blind candidates & candidate with Locomotor Disability & Cerebral Palsy [minimum 40% impairment])
Negative Marking1/3rd of the marks assigned to a question
Medium of ExamBilingual (Hindi & English)

UPSC CSE Prelims Syllabus

Syllabus for GS Paper (Prelims Paper I)

    • 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, Biodiversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
    • General Science

Syllabus for CSAT Paper (Prelims Paper-II)

    • Comprehension
    • Interpersonal skills including communication skills
    • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
    • Decision-making and problem solving
    • General mental ability
    • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

Note: The first stage of the UPSC CSE exam i.e., the Civil Services Preliminary Exam is only a screening test and is conducted to shortlist candidates for the Main Examination. Marks secured in Preliminary Exam are not taken into account while preparing the final merit.

Phase 2: UPSC Mains Exam (1750 Marks)

  • The Mains examination constitutes the 2nd phase of the Civil Services Examination. Only after successfully qualifying in the prelims exam would the candidates be allowed to write the IAS Mains.
  • The Mains exam tests the candidate’s academic talent in depth and his/her ability to present his/her understanding according to the requirements of the question in a time-bound manner.
  • The UPSC Mains exam consists of 9 papers, out of which two are qualifying papers of 300 marks each.
  • The two qualifying papers are:
    • Any Indian Language Paper
    • English Language Paper

The papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates who attain 25% marks in both the language papers as a minimum qualifying standard in these qualifying papers, will be taken cognizance of, for evaluation.

In case a candidate does not qualify in these language papers, then the marks obtained by such candidates will not be considered or counted.

Structure of the language papers:

The types of questions asked are –

  1. Essay – 100 marks
  2. Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  3. Precise Writing – 60 marks
  4. Translation:
    1. English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
    2. Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  1. Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks

The rest of the seven papers can be written in any of the languages mentioned under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India or in English.

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus

Mains paper comprises a total of 7 papers containing a total of 1750 marks (250 each).

             Paper            Subject               Marks

 

Paper – IEssay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice)250
Paper-II (GS -1)General Studies – I

(Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)

250
Paper – III (GS-2)General Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)250
Paper – IV (GS- 3)General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)250
Paper – V (GS – 4)General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)250
Paper – VIOptional Subject – Paper I250
Paper – VIIOptional Subject – Paper II250

Below is a detailed list of the topics to be studied for the GS papers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

UPSC Exam General Studies- PAPER I

 

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society:

  • Indian culture covers the salient features of Literature, Art Forms, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern Indian history includes significant events, personalities, issues during the middle of the eighteenth century until the present
  • Various stages and important contributors and contributions from different parts of the country in ‘The Freedom Struggle’
  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
  • History of the world includes events, forms, and effect on the society from the 18th century like world wars, the industrial revolution, colonization, redrawal of national boundaries, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc
  • Salient aspects of Diversity of India and Indian Society
  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty, and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and remedies
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism
  • 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
  • Effects of globalization on Indian society
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone, etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
  • Salient features of the world’s physical geography.
UPSC Exam General Studies- PAPER II

 

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
  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
  • 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
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
  • 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
  • Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • Role of civil services in a democracy
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and its neighborhood- relations
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
UPSC Exam General Studies- PAPER III

 

Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • 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
  • Economics of animal-rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • 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
  • 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- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
  • Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; money-laundering and its prevention
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
UPSC Exam General Studies- PAPER IV

 

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude: This paper includes questions to check the candidate’s attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his/her problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him/her while dealing with society. Questions may utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects and covers area:

  • 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 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 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.

The UPSC Mains syllabus gives a list of 48 Optional Subjects including subject specialization and Literature of different languages. Candidates need to choose any one of the ‘Optional Subjects’ from the list of subjects given below:

 

Optional Subjects

AgricultureMedical ScienceKashmiri (Literature)
Animal HusbandryPhilosophyKonkani (Literature)
AnthropologyPhysicsMaithili (Literature)
BotanyPolitical Science and International RelationsMalayalam (Literature)
ChemistryPsychologyManipuri (Literature)
Civil EngineeringPublic AdministrationMarathi (Literature)
Commerce and AccountancySociologyNepali (Literature)
EconomicsStatisticsOdia (Literature)
Electrical engineeringZoologyPunjabi (Literature)
GeographyAssamese (Literature)Sanskrit (Literature)
GeologyBengali (Literature)Santhali (Literature)
HistoryBodo (Literature)Sindhi (Literature)
LawDogri (Literature)Tamil (Literature)
ManagementGujarati (Literature)Telugu (Literature)
MathematicsHindi (Literature)English (Literature)
Mechanical EngineeringKannada (Literature)Urdu (Literature)

Phase 3: IAS Interview/UPSC Personality Test (275 Marks)

  • Candidates who qualify the UPSC Mains Exam will be called for the ‘Personality Test/Interview’. These candidates will be interviewed by a Board appointed by the UPSC.
  • The objective of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in the civil services by a board of competent and unbiased observers.
  • The interview is more of a purposive conversation intended to explore the mental qualities and analytical ability of the candidate.
  • The Interview test will be of 275 marks and the total marks for written examination is 1750. This sums up to a Grand Total of 2025 Marks, based on which the final merit list will be prepared.

Read How to prepare for UPSC CSE Interview?

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