Detailed Syllabus Of UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam (New Pattern)

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IAS 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.




Essay: Candidates will be required to write an essay on a specific topic. The choice of subjects will be given.
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.

General Studies- I: 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

. 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 communismcapitalism, 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 Globalizationon 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 waterbodies 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.

. 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 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: Technology, Economic 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.

. 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

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 utilise 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; 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.

Optional Subject – Paper 2 250 Marks

  • akila natesan



    • Hello Sir,
      I am pursuing my masters in international business, and i am planning to prepare for IAS exam but i do not want to join any coaching institute. I want to prepare by myself but have very little idea from where to start and from which book.
      I want to write the exam this August, so please guide me.
      Thank you.

  • yaswanth

    plzz send updates to my email ID

  • Sweta Dey

    @VKGB Sir,I hope you are the best person who can answer my confusion…I strongly believe success is only a reflection of TRUE PASSION..I want to become a very efficient and hardworking administrator in near future…as you have the real experience you can tell me what are those magical factors in this service for that a young aspirant like me would feel the FIRE OF PASSION(except those words reiterated by toppers in competitive magazines with due respect to those achivers,I personally cant find enough passion and motivation from those words…I want to feel it from my heart.)Sir can you please elaborate it?….or you can suggest some of the books where I can find my answer…

    • Sweta,

      Clearing UPSC and becoming an IAS/IPS officer is not a success, it is what you do after becoming an officer, that makes you a success or a failure. Most aspirants start seriously thinking about why they want to join IAS/IPS during the time of Personality test. Some try to make-up some answers to impress the interview board, some with genuine passion for the job like you, don’t worry about this question – somewhere they know that the answer lies in their attitude, not in the cooked up answer.

      The passion for IAS must stem from the values we have in us, but not by the lure of incentives the job offers. The passion must be the result of ‘What can i do for the society’ concern, not, ‘What I would be getting’ selfishness.

      One magical factor that should inspire you to take up this job is the love you would get from the poorest person when you genuinely ‘help’ him in your capacity as an administrator. This job provides almost unlimited potential for you to change so many people’s lives. As the servants of people living a luxury life on the expenses of poor man’s tax, we don’t ‘help’ them – we merely facilitate delivery of services meant for them in an honest manner.

      A poor villager who gets his house meant for him without paying any bribe would remember you as long as his house survives, many a times beyond.

      As they say, let the fame chase you and not the other way round, this job provides you this opportunity. If you do the job honestly and with a sincere love for the people, you will be worshiped by the beneficiaries for many generations to come.

      In simple words, IAS doesn’t make difference to your life, and it should not, but it lets you make positive difference to thousands of people.

      The real success is when you sit back at the age of 65 and listen to a story narrated by a servant in your house about an young officer who ‘helped’ his fathers and grandfathers get their land back freeing them from a huge debt at a certain place in a certain year – and then you realize it was you who had helped them and when this realization brings a sense of fulfillment, a pure joy; you will be sure you are successful. In life. 🙂

      Keep your passion alive and let this passion benefit many people. I am sure, as you said, you would work hard and efficiently as an administrator to help others. All the best. 🙂

      • ashoo

        at last heard a good ethics ………… thx

      • suman

        u r right sir…..

      • Arjun

        Hello sir,

        I am a graduate of stream and doing master degree in commerce. I had decided to be an IAS officer in the first year of my graduation, firstly i could not used these three years properly because i had no detailed information (awareness) about the civil services examination but now i have realized that it is the most difficult examination in india.

        My family is low medium class and has given me two more years to prepare for the CS along with my master degree. I can not afford expensive coaching classes, predominantly i have decided to be an IAs officer because i know the pain of poverty and an appetite. I know that i alone can not eradicate the poverty problem from India but i am confidant that i can make a great effort to fight against these kind of problems. Being a part of that group which is working hard but getting nothing, being a segment of those peoples who are struggling whole day to feed their children and sleeping with empty stomach, being a member of that family in which there is no guarantee of having two times meal in a day, i can understand their pain and their constrains.(It seems absurd and futile but consider it positively)

        I know that it is not that much of easy for me to become an IAS officer but i believe that nothing is impossible for a willing mind. I wish to become an IAS officer because i want to do something for the society. I know, that only wish and willing is not enough.

        I am sincerely requesting to you sir, please guide me. How i would prepare for the prelims and mains without any coaching classes?

  • Sweta Dey

    First of all want to thank you from the bottom of my heart as you respond individual query with no delay. From last night I’m thinking again and again over the lines written by you..trying to comprehend,assimilate…thinking again…your words have led me into deep introspection…really why I want to join civil service?…some days ago..while reading Karmayoga…I was stopped at some lines where Swami Vivekananda explains the lines of The Geeta…why an ideal work is that where the worker has no desire for the fruit of the work and the real human being is one who earns with keen interest to only give..your lines have led me at a point where I’m finding the convergence of all these,Sir.I’m consuming it still now…but probably and thankfully I have got a broader answer than I’ve asked you.Thank you for maintaining such a wonderful blog with such a high standard and also for leading me in a introspection at such an initial stage of my preparation days…I’ll surely try to read these books.Hope the high level of integrity and dedication of yours in this noble service of guiding us inspire many like me to win over own-self to join.From my heart I wish you all success in your life.

    • Sweta,

      I am happy that my words meant something for you. Keep visiting the blog and I see that your writing is good – if possible try to write a good article on current event, or on anything you like related to this exam. I will be happy to put it on the blog.

      Yes, the message of Karma Yoga matters a lot for all individuals doing their duty without expectations. Thanks for mentioning it in the comment.

      Thanks a lot for your wishes. 🙂

  • Sweta Dey

    Thank you again for replying.Yes Sir,those insightful words will guide me in the coming days.Thank you for your advice sir…I’m happy that you feel I’m eligible to write something at this platform.But I’m at a very initial stage to write anything.I’ll take some time for that to write anything meaningful.Visiting your blog is a wonderful experience sir…it enriches me with so many things everytime.It will be a proud moment for me if I can write a good article on related issues at this platform… but for now I beg your pardon.Thanks a lot for being so much helpful.

    • Sweta,

      Thanks again for appreciating this blog. You can send your articles whenever you are comfortable. It is good to take your own time. Aim high – dream of getting published in a newspaper. Blogs like this are so many, it is not a big thing to write here. Try writing letters to The Hindu for a starter. Good luck 🙂 Please let your friends know about this blog too!

  • Sweta Dey

    Thank you sir.I’ll surely do this.Sir,the previous GS question papers of 2008 onwards specify the words “CRITICALLY ANALYSE”,”CRITICALLY EXAMINE”,”CRITICALLY REVIEW”,”OBJECTIVELY ANALYSE”….by mentioning these words what UPSC demands from answers?How I can achive the skills to write answers exactly in this manner that is demanded by these words?

    • Tomorrow I will write a separate article on this which is very important. Good that you asked it here 🙂

    • I think I will answer here itself:

      Critically Analyze, Critically Examine are the common phrases we encounter in Mains questions. There is a fine difference between them.

      Critically: It has various negative connotation, but in this context, Critically means making a careful, unbiased, fair judgement about the good and bad qualities of something.

      Examine : it is a careful study (inspection/observation) of something trying to know if there is anything wrong and find the cause of the problem.

      Analyze: to examine methodically the structure or nature of something by separating it into parts and studying their relationship. When you are asked to analyze, you have to examine each part of the problem. It is a broader term than ‘Examine’.

      Now, when you are asked to,

      critically examine: you are asked to make a fair judgement by observing or inspecting both good and bad qualities, and find their causes.

      Example: “In the context of the growing demands for the ban of endosulfan in the country,’critically examine‘ the issues involved.What, in your view, should be done in the matter?” (2012, Paper-I)

      Here, you need to carefully judge whether ban on endosulfan is justified. Both good and bad of endosulfan use and its ban. After observing the problem, find the cause and offer solution. 🙂

      Critically Analyze:

      You need to judge based on the examination of all parts of the question/problem.

      Example: “Analyze critically the ‘interlinkages’ between the Convention on Biodiversity and FAO treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.”

      As analysis involves separating something into parts and examining their relationship, the question directly demands the same. Observe the word ‘interlinkages’. So, first examine CBD and FAO treaties separately, then observe if both are in harmony with each other or there is any conflict between them (they are in harmony). Then conclude your answer with your fair judgement. Regarding this question, more info here and here

      Hope this was helpful 🙂

  • Sweta Dey

    Great sir.Looking eagerly for tommorow.


    sir, i am doing my graduation,in Honors, from hindu college DU in sanskrit.
    I’m a second year student and have 3 years before i can attempt the CS exam. I want ask how i should prepare for the CS exam. Will help me a lot if you give a reply.

  • Egotricks

    Isn’t this post incomplete?

    The resources aren’t mentioned nor linked inline- for Paper IV and half of Paper III (Food and agrarian reforms etc)

    Please update.

  • biswajit biswas

    Hello sir how are u?
    Im writing here for the first time. Nd i have a question. I have never got myself inspired for doing any things in my life. U can say i like to take things practically. So i dont know what should i feel to b an administrative service man. Bt one think i can say that i just want to prove that im worth of something. And thats why im thinking to choose it. So is this attitude can help me to gain this?

    • To be an IAS officer all you need is empathy for the society. Don’t do it for self prestige. IAS gives you opportunity to do things that will change people’s lives for better.

      You are worth more than anything even if you don’t become IAS. Worth must be measured by one’s character, not by the Three letters next to his/her name.

      • amit pathak

        sir u have touched spritual aspect which people generaly dont consider

  • swati

    how the 250 marks will be distributed in gs papers i mean to ask that early in paper there was two section to solve from which atleast one question from each question had to solve and had to attempt 5 question including 1st and 5th question compulsory….so how the subjects like history,geography.heritage, culture and security will b distributed with equal weightage..???????

  • prem

    hello sir,
    I am going for 2014’s attempt. so please post the details for study plan for how manage days to complete syllabus because I am starting form 1 oct this year ,whether study mains first or pre. please help me am fresher……

  • Hrishikesh Roy

    it is really a delightful moment for me, that after much hard labour I have come in touch with your blog. I am preparing for the most prestigious job, where I can reshape the the broken dreams of the society, true to its fact your inspirational words have made a mark, and I shall definitely try build in the solid rock foundation to reach the level , the post of IAS .It would be of immense help, if you can guide me and other budding aspirants with correct strategy to score the goal. My request is a mere part of the exclusive, but your simple inspiration and guidance shall definitely bring in the change to us.
    thanking you
    Hrishikesh Roy

    • Thanks Hrishikesh. We are here to guide you. Take time to explore all article on the home page. Go through comments. Strategy is already there on the site. If you have any doubts, you can clear them on ‘Doubts Corner’.

  • anu

    Insights contribution to aspirants is invaluable. kindly keep going. pls:-)

  • sachin kumar

    hello sir mai b.arch kar raha hun kya mai civil exam (IAS) mai qualifie kar sakta hun apne pasand ke subject se

  • sachin kumar

    hello sir mai b.arch kar raha hun mai civil exam (IAS) mai qualiefied karna chahta hun kya mai apne pasand ke subject se qualiefied kar sakta hun

  • Priyanka Joshi

    Hello sir,
    I have done my graduation in English honours from D.U. and want to make a real contribution for the betterment of the society. CS seems to be the best way to create change at the grass root level where I will be able to take decisions for the upliftment of the society.
    I have decided to take literature, one of the two optional papers but I am facing some problems in deciding the other subject.could you please help me in choosing one?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Priyanka,

      Good to know about your ambition and concerns. From last year UPSC has changed the pattern. Now there is only one optional subject. So no worries. You can stick with Literature alone.

      All the best.

  • Nandan

    sir i am basically kannada medium student and complete my degree from distance education.i wrote kas mains 2011 but i coudnt qualify for interview but now i used to read all the books in english medium.i can understand english but i cant express my views.pls guide me how can i able to write main exam in english .i am waiting for ur ans thank u sir

    • Choose a medium that you are very comfortable to write answers. Marks are not determined by the medium you choose. If you are good in Kannada then go for it. If you want to write on English then of its fine too. You need basic English. You should be able to convey your message clearly. Read standard newspapers magazines and books too.

    • Reading serious literature helps you communicated well in English.

  • jaibir singh

    if coaching classes for the preparation of civil services exam are essentially required ? if yes then please provide me with names of best coaching classes in north india or some centres providing best study materials for the preparation of the same.

  • priyanka

    please give me the information about kannada medium books for ias mains gs

  • jatin patel

    Priyankaji Bali me paper ka detail kab milega ?

  • Krishna Saini

    sir.i am a student pursuing my geography and am a second year student..i wud first of all like to appreciate ur effort to help serious civil service aspirants with ur more than useful guidance .i am nt an exception either and want to join the services.this is my first post on insights.i am a bit confused on how start preparing for ias and whether i shud do preparation for prelims or mains first. .please guide me for the same.i apologize in starting as i am going to ask alot in comment section so that i cn get valuable guidance from you..and sincerely spealking..i think i have found an alternative for coaching- a big brother who cn guide me through all this.till the whole journey upto the gate of rply sir.

  • Neha Sharma

    UPSC Exam Calendar kab me publish hoga ,, Time Table  upsc ke site pe nhi dikh rha.

  • Jiya Jiya

    sir , I have seen the following syllabus in upsc official website, please give me more information

  • Wasiq Bhat

    What is the opinion with regards to choosing Law as an optional subject?

  • Ajay Agarwal

    Sir, Please let us know whether we need to buy all those books recommended above