UPSC (IAS) Exam Main Syllabus

UPSC (IAS) Exam Main Syllabus



» The main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.

» The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such that a well-educated person will be able to answer them without any specialized study.

» The questions will be such as to test a candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will have relevance for a career in Civil Services.

» The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues and ability to analyze and take a view on conflicting socio- economic goals, objectives and demands.

»The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.

» The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.


» The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned.
» The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :-


» Comprehension of given passages
» Precis Writing
» Usage and Vocabulary
» Short Essays


» Comprehension of given passages
» Precis Writing
» Usage and Vocabulary
» Short Essays
» Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

The Papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).

General studies 







» 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.

» 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 water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.







» 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.

» 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 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 interest.

» 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.







» 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.

» 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 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.








» 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 weakersections.

» 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.

List of Optional Subjects




» Agriculture
» Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
» Anthropology
» Botany
» Chemistry
» Civil Engineering
» Commerce and Accountancy
» Economics
» Electrical Engineering
» Geography
» Geology
» History
» Law
» Management
» Mathematics
» Mechanical Engineering
» Medical Science
» Philosophy
» Physics
» Political Science and International Relations
» Psychology
» Public Administration
» Sociology
» Statistics
» Zoology
» Literature of any one of the following languages : Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

Public administrative syllabus


Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC Main Examination PAPER -1

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; Public Choice approach; Challenges of liberalization, Privatisation , Globalisation; Good Governance: concept and application; New Public Management.

  1. Administrative Thought:


Scientific Management and Scientific Management movement; Classical Theory; Weber’s bureaucratic model – its critique and post-Weberian Developments; Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett); Human Relations School (Elton Mayo and others); Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard); Simon’s decision-making theory; Participative Management (R. Likert, C. Argyris, D. McGregor).

  1. Administrative Behaviour:


Process and techniques of decision-making; Communication; Morale; Motivation Theories – content, process and contemporary; Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern.

  1. Organisations:


Theories – systems, contingency; Structure and forms: Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies, Boards and Commissions; Ad hoc and advisory bodies; Headquarters and Field relationships; Regulatory Authorities; Public – Private Partnerships.

  1. 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 Charters; Right to Information; Social audit.

  1. Administrative Law:


Meaning, scope and significance; Dicey on Administrative law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals.

  1. 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.

  1. Development Dynamics:


Concept of development; Changing profile of development administration; ‘Antidevelopment thesis'; Bureaucracy and development; Strong state versus the market debate; Impact of liberalisation on administration in developing countries; Women and development – the self­help group movement.

  1. 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; Administrative  ethics.

  1. Public Policy:


Models of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualisation, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review and their limitations; State theories and public policy formulation

  1. Techniques of Administrative Improvement:


Organisation and methods, Work study and work management; e-governance and information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.

  1. Financial Administration:


Monetary and fiscal policies; Public borrowings and public debt Budgets – types and forms; Budgetary process; Financial accountability; Accounts and audit.



Indian Administration

  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.

  1. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government:


Salient features and value premises; Constitutionalism; Political culture; Bureaucracy and democracy; Bureaucracy and development.

  1. Public Sector Undertakings:


Public sector in modern India; Forms of Public Sector Undertakings; Problems of autonomy, accountability and control; Impact of liberalization and privatization.

  1. Union Government and Administration:


Executive, Parliament, Judiciary – structure, functions, work processes; Recent trends; Intragovernmental relations; Cabinet Secretariat; Prime Minister’s Office; Central Secretariat; Ministries and Departments; Boards; Commissions; Attached offices; Field organizations.

  1. Plans and Priorities:


Machinery of planning; Role, composition and functions of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council; ‘Indicative’ planning; Process of plan formulation at Union and State levels; Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice.

  1. State Government and Administration:


Union-State administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates.

  1. District Administration since Independence:


Changing role of the Collector; Union state-local relations; Imperatives of development management and law and order administration; District administration and democratic decentralization.

  1. Civil Services:


Constitutional position; Structure, recruitment, training and capacity-building; Good governance initiatives; Code of conduct and discipline; Staff associations; Political rights; Grievance redressal mechanism; Civil service neutrality; Civil service activism.

  1. Financial Management:


Budget 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.

  1. Administrative Reforms since Independence:


Major concerns; Important Committees and Commissions; Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation.

  1. Rural Development:


Institutions and agencies since independence; Rural development programmes: foci and strategies; Decentralization and Panchayati Raj;73rd Constitutional amendment.

  1. Urban Local Government:


Municipal governance: main features, structures, finance and problem areas; 74th Constitutional Amendment; Globallocal debate; New localism; Development dynamics, politics and administration with special reference to city management.

  1. Law and Order Administration:


British legacy; National Police Commission; Investigative agencies; Role of central and state agencies including paramilitary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency and terrorism; Criminalisation of politics and administration; Police-public relations; Reforms in Police.

  1. Significant issues in Indian Administration:


Values in public service; Regulatory Commissions; National Human Rights Commission; Problems of administration in coalition regimes; Citizen-administration interface; Corruption and administration; Disaster management.

Geography 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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; agroforestry; Wild life; Major gene pool centres.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Resources:


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

  1. 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.

  1. 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

regionali-sation; New industrial policies; Multinationals and liberalization; Special Economic Zones; Tourism including eco – tourism.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 security; Environmental degradation; Deforestation, desertification and soil erosion; Problems of agrarian and industrial unrest; Regional disparities in economic development; Concept of sustainable growth and development; Environmental awareness; Linkage of rivers; Globalisation and Indian economy.

NOTE: Candidates will be required to answer one compulsory map question pertinent to subjects covered by this paper

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