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UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus



  • Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until significant events, personalities, and 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 the 18th century such as the Industrial Revolution, world wars, Redrawal of National Boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization, political philosophies like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, etc.— their forms and effect on society.

Art & Culture

  • Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times


  • 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, cyclones, etc., geographical features and their location changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Indian 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.



Indian Constitution

  • Historical underpinnings of the constitution

  • Evolution of the Constitution

  • Salient features

  • Basic structure

  • Amendments

  • Significant provisions

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the states

  • Issues and challenges related to the Federal Structure

  • Devolution of powers and finances up to local government level

  • Challenges in the devolution of power

  • Separation of powers between various organs of the government

  • Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

  • Comparison of India’s constitutional scheme with other countries

Governance & Polity

  • Parliament and State Legislatures

    • Structure

    • Functioning

    • Conduct of Business

    • Powers & Privileges

    • Issues arising out of Powers & Privileges of legislative bodies

  • Executive and Judiciary

    • Structure

    • Organization

    • Functioning

    • Ministries and departments of the government

  • Pressure groups

  • Formal & Informal associations and their role in the polity

  • Salient features of the People’s Representation 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 the development of various sectors

  • Issues arising out of design and implementation of government intervention

  • Development processes and the development of industry

  • The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

  • 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

Social Justice

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by centre and states

  • The performance of welfare schemes

  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections of the population

  • Issues related to the development and management of the social sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

  • Issues related to poverty and hunger

International Relations

  • India and its neighborhood

  • Relations between India and neighbouring countries

  • 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

    • Structure

    • Mandate


Indian Economy

  • Issues related to planning

  • Mobilization of resources

  • Growth

  • Development

  • Employment

Inclusive Growth

  • Inclusive growth

  • Issues arising from or related to inclusive growth


  • Government Budgeting

Major Crops and Cropping Patterns

  • Major crops and cropping pattern in different parts of the country

  • Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

  • Transport and marketing of agricultural produce

  • Issues related to transport and marketing of agricultural produce

  • E- technology in the aid of farmers

Subsidies, Poverty Alleviation and Agricultural Technology

  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies

  • Issues related to Minimum Support Prices

  • Public Distribution System

    • Objectives

    • Functioning

    • Limitations

    • Revamp

  • Issues related to buffer stocks and food security

  • Technology missions

  • Economics of Animal rearing

Food Processing and Related Industries

  • Food processing and related industries in India

    • Scope and significance

    • Location

    • Upstream and downstream requirements

  • Supply chain management

Land Reforms

  • Land reforms in India



  • Effects of Liberalization on the economy

  • Changes in industrial policy

  • Effects of changes in industrial policy on industrial growth



  • Energy

  • Ports

  • Roads

  • Airports

  • Railways etc.


  • Investment models such as Public-Private Partnerships, Build Operate Transfer etc.


Science and Technology

  • Developments in Science and Technology

  • Applications of scientific developments in everyday life

  • Effects of scientific developments in everyday life

Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology

  • Important contributions of Indians in Science and Technology

  • Indigenization of technology

  • Developing new technology indigenously

General Awareness

  • Awareness in the following fields:

    • IT

    • Space

    • Computers

    • Robotics

    • Nanotechnology

    • Biotechnology

  • Issues related to Intellectual Property

  • Rights in these fields



  • Conservation

  • Environmental pollution and degradation

  • Environmental Impact Assessment

Disaster Management

  • Disasters

  • Disaster Management


  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism

  • Role of 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 mandates



Ethics and Human Interface


Aspirants should learn:

  • How you inculcate it 

  • How you deal with society

  • How do you see whether the action is ethical or not and 

  • What are the principles that you follow to ensure that the action is ethical or not?

Note: Questions may be asked in the part I section

Human Values Aspirants should focus on:

  • How do people acquire values and majority of people acquire values when they read about the personality of importance like freedom fighters

  • Consider a few books about 5-6 of great thinkers whom you admire, like or follow


  • UPSC may give some statement of any great personalities and would ask to discuss it by applying it to the present context.

  • UPSC does not want thinkers’ point of view but what it looks for is how much the candidate has analyzed, utilized and applied it to the current context.



Candidates should focus on Attitude: 

  • Content, structure, function, its influence, and relation with thought and behavior for Part 2 of the question paper i.e. Case Study

  • The moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion would be for Part 1 of the Ethics Question Paper i.e. theory.

Note: Question may be asked either in Part 1 or Part 2 i.e. either in theory or case study

AptitudeImportant list of words that a candidate should embed in their answer in order to enhance their answer and score high.

Integrity: not compromising on anything if someone offers your bribe will you compromise

●  Impartiality: Don’t show nepotism either for political parties or the common man

●  Nonpartisanship: no biases for different political parties

●  Objectivity: be neutral

●  Dedication to public service

●  Empathy

●  Tolerance

●  Compassion towards weaker section

Note: Candidates can refer to the ‘Ethics in Governance’ to cover this area as it gives a clear definition of the last five words or concepts including Nolan Committee Recommendations.


Emotional Intelligence

Here as an administrator, one has to follow the three procedures of Emotional Intelligence and they are:

●  Understand your emotions and control them

●  Understand others emotions and control them

●  Then, act according to solve the issue genuinely and effectively

Note: Questions may be asked in both Part 1 and Part 2

Ethical issues in international relations 

  • Candidates can take the example of the Nepal Earthquake video how funding aided or any current similar such scenarios

Note: Questions may be asked Part 2 i.e. case study

Sharing and transparency in government, Right to information, codes of ethics, codes of conductCandidates can refer to CCS, 1964 – The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which is of 300-400 pages

Citizen’s Charters, Work Culture, Quality of Service delivery, utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption

  • UPSC may ask direct questions on Citizen’s Charter

  • Candidates should be aware of how to frame a Citizen’s Charter and the rules and regulations that should be followed before framing a citizen charter

  • Questions in Case Study may also be expected

Indian Languages and Scripts Allowed by UPSC for Civil Services Exam

1.      Assamese-   Assamese

2.      Bengali-      Bengali

3.      Gujarati-     Gujarati

4.      Hindi-          Devanagari

5.      Kannada-    Kannada

6.      Kashmiri-     Persian

7.      Konkani-     Devanagari

8.      Malayalam- Malayalam

9.      Manipuri-    Bengali

10.  Marathi-        Devanagari

11.  Nepali-          Devanagari

12.  Odiya-           Odiya

13.  Punjabi-         Gurumukhi

14.  Sanskrit-        Devanagari

15.  Sindhi-           Devanagari or Arabic

16.  Tamil-             Tamil

17.  Telugu-           Telugu

18.  Urdu-              Persian

19.  Bodo-             Devanagari

20.  Dogri-             Devanagari

21.  Maithili-          Devanagari

22.  Santhali-         Devanagari or Olchiki

Optional Paper

The UPSC Optional Subject list consists of 48 subjects, out of which one can be selected by the candidate for both papers. Each optional subject comprises two papers (Paper I and Paper II) each of 250 marks, making it a total of 500 marks

The syllabus of the optional papers is at the honors degree level, which is higher than an undergraduate degree level but lower than a master's degree level. 

UPSC Optional Subject-

  • Agriculture

  • Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science

  • Anthropology

  • Botany

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Commerce & Accountancy

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Geography

  • Geology

  • History

  • Law

  • Management

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Medical Science

  • Philosophy

  • Physics

  • Political Science & International Relations

  • Psychology

  • Public Administration

  • Sociology

  • Statistics

  • Zoology

UPSC Literature Subject-

  • Assamese

  • Bengali

  • Bodo

  • Dogri

  • Gujarati

  • Hindi

  • Kannada

  • Kashmiri

  • Konkani

  • Maithili

  • Malayalam

  • Manipuri

  • Marathi

  • Nepali

  • Oriya

  • Punjabi

  • Sanskrit

  • Santhali

  • Sindhi

  • Tamil

  • Telugu

  • Urdu

  • English

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