UPSC Syllabus: The Definitive Guide with detailed analysis (2019)

UPSC SYLLABUS: IAS Syllabus for Prelims, Mains, and Interview

Today’s I’m going to show you detailed upsc syllabus for students appearing for the UPSC exam. 

This article gives a broad overview of the UPSC syllabus with additional links containing in-depth information.

IAS syllabus is broadly divided into two parts i.e. UPSC prelims syllabus, UPSC mains syllabus.

The Civil Service exam is conducted in three phases

  1. Preliminary Examination (Objective Type)
  2. Mains Examination (Descriptive Type)
  3. Personal Interview (Personality Test)
upsc syllabus
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The Preliminary exam is first stage of  UPSC exam and a candidate must clear to qualify for the mains exam.

Marks in prelims exam will not be counted for final ranking, but just for qualification for the main exam.

Preliminary exam of IAS has two papers viz. General Ability test (Paper-1) and the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) (Paper-2).

The Commission will draw a list of candidates to be qualified for Civil Service (Main) Examination based on the criterion of minimum qualifying marks of 33% in General Studies PaperII of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and total qualifying marks of General Studies Paper-I of Civil Services Preliminary Examination as may be determined by the Commission.

  • The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory paper of 200 marks each.
  • Both the question papers will be the objective type (multiple choice questions)
  • The General studies paper- II of the civil services (preliminary)  examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33 %
  • The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.
  • Each paper will be of two hours duration.

IAS Syllabus Prelims

General Studies – Paper I                                         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

CSAT – Paper II                                                                    Duration :Two hours

  • 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)


Section-wise Questions Distribution

Paper Subject Marks
Paper 1 General Ability Test (GAT) 200
Paper 2 English Language and Aptitude 200
  Total marks 400



  • Mains exam is second stag of civil service examination. Only after successfully qualifying in the prelims exam would the candidates be allowed to write the IAS Mains.
  • A candidate’s rank in UPSC Exam depends only on the mark scored in Main and Interview.
  • 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
    • English Language Paper
  • The main exam has 1750 marks while interview has 275 marks.
  • Although, The written examination (main) will consist of the following 9 papers, but only 7 papers will be counted for final merit ranking.
  • For the rest two papers, the candidate should secure minimum marks prescribed by UPSC each year.

UPSC Mains Syllabus

Paper Subject Marks
Paper – I Essay (can be written in the medium of the candidate’s choice) 250
Paper – II General Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society) 250
Paper – III General Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations) 250
Paper – IV General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management) 250
Paper – V General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude) 250
Paper – VI Optional Subject – Paper I 250
Paper – VII Optional Subject – Paper II 250

UPSC SYLLABUS: Mains Examination

Summary of the Latest Pattern of Civil Services (Mains) Examination 
Paper – A
Language -300 Marks
Candidate can take any Modern Indian language but this paper is of qualifying nature

Paper – B
English -300 Marks
This paper is of qualifying nature

Paper – I
Essay – 250 Marks
Can be written in the medium or language of the candidate’s choice

General Studies-I 250 Marks
(Indian Heritage and Culture,
History and Geography of the World and Society)

General Studies -II: 250 Marks
(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

General Studies -III 250 Marks
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster

General Studies -IV 250 Marks
(Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)
Marks carried by General Studies papers are 4X 250=1000

Optional Subject – Paper 1 -250 Marks
Optional Subject – Paper II -250 Marks

The candidate is allowed to take up literature as an optional subject “without the condition of having it at the graduation level.”

Sub Total (Written test) 1750 Marks-
Marks of English and Language will not be counted in the total tally of marks for the
written exam. So, the total of the Mains exam will be 1750 Marks Only.

Interview/Personality Test – 275 marks
This part of the exam comes only after the results of the mains exams are declared.
Candidates can give preference for the language in which they may like to be
interviewed. UPSC will make arrangement for the translators. THE marks fetched in
this stage of the exam is combined with the marks obtained in the UPSC mains.

Grand Total 2025 Marks

A candidate is allowed to use any one language from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution or English as the medium of writing the examination.

UPSC Syllabus for Mains Examination in details 


Essay – 250 Marks – To be written in the medium or language of the candidate’s choice.
The candidate is required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given. They are expected to keep their thoughts closely to the subject and arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and be concise. Credit will be given to effective and coherent expression.


General Studies-I 250 Marks (Indian Heritage and Culture, History, and Geography of
the World and Society)
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, redrawing 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.

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., 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.


General Studies -II: 250 Marks (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.

Separation of powers between various organs disputes redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries

Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, the 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.

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

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 the 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.

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 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity,
Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

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, 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.

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. indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

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

Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


General Studies -IV 250 Marks (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.

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 nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance, and compassion
towards the weaker-sections.

Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and

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.


Optional Subject – Paper I -250 Marks


Optional Subject – Paper II -250 Marks

Interview/Personality Test – 275 Marks

1. The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his/her
career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the
interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by
a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The test is intended to judge the mental
caliber of a candidate. In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only his/her
intellectual qualities but also social traits and his/her interest in current affairs. Some of the
qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical
exposition, a balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion
and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
2. The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural,
though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities
of the candidate.
3. The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general
knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers.
Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their special
subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both
within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern currents of thought and
in new discoveries which should rouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.

UPSC Optional Subjects Syllabus

Ancient History Syllabus [Topic Wise ]



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UPSC Syllabus: The Definitive Guide with detailed analysis (2019)
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This Post Has 6 Comments

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