Syllabus for UPSC – Prelims Mains & Interview

UPSC Syllabus for IAS exam or civil services exam is provided each year through the Civil Services Exam Notification. It is broadly divided into two parts: UPSC Prelims Syllabus and UPSC Mains Syllabus. 

The internet is littered with out-dated information for the same and accessing complete and latest IAS Syllabus at one place, in an easy to understand format, can be challenging. Below, you will find the full IAS Syllabus broken down into various phases and subjects. This article gives a broad overview of the civil services syllabus with additional links containing in-depth information.


The UPSC divides the Civil Services Exam into three successive stages:

1: Preliminary Examination (Objective)

2: Mains Examination (Subjective)

3: Personality Test (Verbal)

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Prelims

The UPSC Prelims Exam is the first and foremost exam intended to determine the reasoning and analytical ability of a candidate. It consists of two objective type papers (multiple choice questions), each carrying 200 marks (total of 400 marks) with an allocated time of 2 hours each.  This purpose of the exam is to screen the candidates for Main Examination and the marks obtained in prelims are not counted in the final merit.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 1 – General Studies

Marks: 200 | Duration: Two hours | Counted for Mains Selection

  • 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 specialisation.
  • General Science.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for IAS Prelims Paper 2 – CSAT

Marks: 200 | Duration: Two hours | NOT Counted for Mains Selection but 33% Marks Needed for Qualifying

  • 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).

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Mains

The UPSC Mains Exam is a crucial part of the Civil Services Exam as every mark scored in this stage counts in the selection process. The UPSC Mains Syllabus is designed in a way that helps in assessing the academic talent of the individual in the form of his/her ability to apply and present his/her knowledge. Rather than memorisation and rote learning, the exam is designed to analyse the overall understanding of the subject and depth of intellect.

It consists of 9 subjective papers, out of which two papers are qualifying, carrying 300 marks each. The remaining 7 papers include: Essay Paper, GS Paper I-IV and Optional Paper I-II. Each paper carries 250 marks (total of 1750 marks). Only the marks obtained by the candidates in these 7 papers are counted in the final merit.

Paper UPSC Exam Pattern Marks
A Indian Language – UPSC Syllabus. One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim 300 (25% for Qualifying)
B English Language 300 (25% for Qualifying)
Paper-I Essay – UPSC Syllabus. Can be taken in the language of choice. Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely 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. 250
Paper-II General Studies-I – UPSC Syllabus. (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
Paper-III General Studies-II – UPSC Syllabus (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250
Paper-IV General Studies-III – UPSC Syllabus (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250
Paper-V General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
Paper-VI Optional – Paper 1 250
Paper-VII Optional – Paper 2 250


The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broadly of the honours degree level. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree. A candidate can select any optional subject from the list of following subjects including Language/Literature.

General Studies-I Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society

Indian Culture : Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

Indian History :

  1. Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  2. The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country
  3. Post-independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the country.

Indian Society :

  1. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  2. Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated
  3. Issues, Poverty and Developmental issues, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  4. Effects of Globalization on Indian society.
  5. Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism.

World History :

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.

Geography :

  1. Salient features of 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).
  2. 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 – 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.
  5. Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
  6. 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.
  7. Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  8. Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various
  9. Constitutional Bodies.
  10. Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
  11. Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
  12. Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  13. 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.
  14. Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.
  15. Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability and institutional and other measures.
  16. Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.
  17. India and its Neighborhood- Relations.
  18. Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  19. Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
  20. Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

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.
  2. Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.
  3. Government Budgeting.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Food Processing and Related Industries in India- Scope’ and Significance, Location,Upstream and Downstream Requirements, Supply Chain Management.
  7. Land Reforms in India.Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.
  8. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  9. Investment Models.
  10. Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
  11. Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.
  12. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Biotechnology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.
  13. Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
  14. Disaster and Disaster Management.
  15. Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.
  16. Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.
  17. Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social
  18. Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money Laundering and its prevention.
  19. Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.
  20. Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

General Studies-IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

  1. 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.
  2. Attitude: Content, Structure, Function; its Influence and Relation with Thought and Behaviour; Moral and Political Attitudes; Social Influence and Persuasion.
  3. Aptitude and Foundational Values for Civil Service, Integrity, Impartiality and Nonpartisanship, 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.
  5. Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and World.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Case Studies on above issues.

UPSC Syllabus for IAS Interview

The candidates who successfully qualify the UPSC Mains Exam are called for the final phase of the process, i.e. Personality Test (Interview) carrying 275 marks. The test is conducted by a board of competent evaluators who check the suitability of the appearing candidate.

  • The candidate will be interviewed by a board who will have before them a record of his/her career and interests filled by him/her in the Detailed Application Form (DAF).
  • The test is intended to determine the suitability of the candidate by judging his/her mental calibre, reasoning ability and moral integrity.
  • In the personality test, apart from their academic study, candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their state or country as well as in modern currents of thought.



Lastly, the final merit list is issued on the basis of the cumulative marks scored by the candidates in Mains Exam and Personality Test. The merit list is published on the website of Union Public Service Commission as well as in the leading newspapers.



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