UPSC Syllabus 2021 | IAS Syllabus For UPSC Prelims & Mains

UPSC Syllabus 2021 | IAS Syllabus For UPSC Prelims & Mains

A thorough understanding of the UPSC syllabus is an extremely crucial milestone on the road to clear the UPSC Clear Services Examination. The Civil Services Exam (CSE) is a nationwide exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in India for recruitment of various designated posts viz IAS (Indian Administrative Service), IPS (Indian Police Service), IFS (Indian Foreign Service), IRS (Indian Revenue Service) and allied services. This exam is considered to be one of the toughest exams in India. Hence, to be able to get through the IAS exam successfully, candidates should know the latest IAS syllabus for UPSC in detail.

In this article, we have discussed the UPSC Syllabus 2021 for both UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam. In addition to that, we’ve also briefly touched upon the UPSC Exam Pattern. To ease your UPSC Civil Services preparation, download the micro list of topics included in the UPSC syllabus and refer to it while reading any new topic!

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UPSC Civil Services Exam (IAS Exam) is conducted in two stages:

  • UPSC Phase I:Civil Services Preliminary Examination or UPSC Prelims is an objective type exam for the selection of candidates for the Main Examination.
  • UPSC Phase II:Civil Services Main Examination or UPSC Main Examination consist of a Written Exam and Interview for the selection of candidates for various services & posts as mentioned in the official notification

The entire process of the IAS Exam from Prelims and Mains to Personality Development Test or Interview takes around a year to complete. As per the trends of the previous year, UPSC follows the following UPSC exam calendar every year:

Event Date
Release of Notification Last week of February
Prelims Exam First week of June
Mains Exam September/October 
Interview Process March of the following year
Final Result April/May of the following year

UPSC syllabus 2021

Phase 1: Preliminary Examination

UPSC Prelims consists of two compulsory multiple-choice-question based papers of 200 marks each. Here’s a brief about the UPSC Prelims paper pattern.

Number of Papers 2 compulsory papers (GS Paper-I and GS Paper-II)
Type of Paper GS Paper-I (Merit) 

GS Paper-II (Qualifying)

Type of Questions Objective (MCQ) type
Total Maximum Marks 400 (200 each paper)
Duration of Exam 2 hrs. each (20 minutes per hour extra time for blind candidates & candidate with Locomotor Disability & Cerebral Palsy [minimum 40% impairment])
Negative Marking 1/3rd of the marks assigned to a question
Medium of Exam Bilingual (Hindi & English)

UPSC Syllabus For Prelims

Download UPSC Syllabus Micro topics List Worth Rs. 599 For Free

The UPSC Civil Services Prelims has two papers namely General Studies-I and General Studies-II (CSAT). Check out the IAS syllabus for both the UPSC papers below:

UPSC Syllabus for Prelims: Paper-I

The IAS Syllabus for UPSC Prelims Exam includes the following topics:

  1. Current Events of National and International Importance.
  2. History of India and Indian National Movement.
  3. Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  4. Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  5. Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  6. General Issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization General Science

UPSC Syllabus For Prelims: General Studies Paper-II

The GS-II in UPSC Prelims is also known as CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The following topics are included in the IAS syllabus for this paper:

  1. Comprehension
  2. Interpersonal skills including communication skills
  3. Logica l reasoning and analytical ability
  4. Decision-making and problem solving
  5. General mental ability
  6. Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc., – Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc., – Class X level)

Also Read | How to prepare for CSAT for UPSC Prelims

Phase 2: UPSC Civil Services Main Examination

UPSC Mains exam consists of nine papers that are held over 4-5 days. Out of these, only seven papers are merit-oriented. The rest two papers including the Compulsory Indian Language paper and Compulsory English paper are qualifying in nature. Here’s a brief about UPSC Mains Paper:

Papers to be Counted for Merit

Sub Total (Written Test)

Personality Test

Grand Total

Qualifying Papers Marks
Paper-A One of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution (Compulsory Indian Language) 300
Paper-B English 300
Paper-I Essay 250
Paper-II General Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society) 250
Paper-III General Studies-II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations) 250
Paper-IV Genera Studies-III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) 250
Paper-V General Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) 250
Paper-VI Optional Subject – Paper 1 250
Paper-VII Optional Subject – Paper 2 250

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UPSC Syllabus For Civil Services Mains Examination

PAPER-I Essay:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Read more | Best strategy for essay writing for UPSC Mains

PAPER-II General Studies-I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature & Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  2. Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  3. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  5. History of the World will include events from the 18th century, such as Industrial Revolution, World Wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc., – their forms and effects on the society.
  6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organizations, 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.
  7. Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  8. 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 waterbodies and ice caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

PAPER-III 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, Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  5. 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.
  6. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  7. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  8. 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.
  9. Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  10. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Center and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  11. Issues related to development and management of Social Sector/Services in the field of Health, Education, Human Resources.
  12. Issues related to poverty and hunger.
  13. Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, e-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  14. Role of Civil Services in a democracy.
  15. 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.
  16. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

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PAPER-IV 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. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  2. 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;
  3. E-technology in the aid of farmers Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices;
  4. Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  5. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  6. Land reforms in India. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  7. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  8. Investment models. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievement of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  9. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  10. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
  11. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  12. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  13. 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.
  14. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

PAPER-V 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 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.

  1. 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 behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  3. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, 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. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  5. 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.
  6. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;
  7. 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.

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Paper-VI: Optional Paper-I

  1. Optional Subject -Paper I (250 Marks) )

Paper-VII: Optional Paper-III

  1. Optional Subject – Paper-II (250 marks)

List of Optional Subject for UPSC Mains

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

Literature of the following languages are also a part of the UPSC optional subjects for UPSC Mains exam from which you can choose your best suited optional subject for UPSC:

Assamese Bengali Bodo Dogri Gujarati
Hindi Kannada Kashmiri Konkani Maithali
Malayalam Manipuri Marathi Nepali Odia
Punjabi Sanskrit Santhali Sindhi Tamil
Telugu Urdu English    

Phase 3: Interview/Personality Test (275 Marks)

  1. Candidates who are selected after the UPSC Mains Exam move to the next and final phase called Personality Test/Interview. Here, the candidates are interviewed by a competent and unbiased board. This board will have the candidate’s DAF (Detail Application Form) with them.
  2. The interview round is held to assess the candidate’s social traits and his interest in current affairs. The motive of the board is to analyze the personal aptness of the candidate for a career in public service
  3. Candidates can give interviews in their preferred language as UPSC will make arrangements for the translators.

Personality Test:

  1. The Interview test will consist of 275 marks.
  2. The total mark of the written examination is 1750 Marks.
  3. Therefore, the grand total will consist of 2025 Marks

Read more | Preparation Strategy for UPSC Civil Services Interview

How To Prepare UPSC Syllabus For IAS Exam | Preparation Tips For UPSC Syllabus

Now that you have an idea of how elaborate the IAS syllabus is, we thought it would be nice to give you some UPSC Syllabus preparation tips. These tips will help you preparing the IAS syllabus holistically.

#Tip 1: Mind-Map the IAS Syllabus

Since the UPSC syllabus is extensive, it is important to read it extremely carefully multiple times to mind-map it. It is crucial to have an understanding of the UPSC syllabus to filter out irrelevant content from the relevant one. It will save you a lot of time in your UPSC preparation and UPSC syllabus completion.

#Tip 2: Download IAS Syllabus Micro Topics List PDF

The best way to achieve mind-mapping of the UPSC syllabus is to keep a copy of micro-topics with you. It will further break down the IAS syllabus into important micro topics that you need to prepare for the IAS exam. You can download IAS Syllabus micro topics from the right panel, print the document. And keep it on your study table. Refer to it whenever you need to know the relevance of any topic vis-a-vis the UPSC syllabus.

#Tip 3: Build Your Foundation

Now, coming to how to cover the UPSC syllabus, first and foremost, it is important to build a strong foundation. Read NCERTs of all the standard subjects. These are available for free on their official website. If you’re on a time-crunch, you can also check out our NCERT course. Read how to read NCERTs for UPSC preparation to have a detailed understanding of why NCERTs is important to cover the UPSC syllabus.

#Tip 4: Strengthen Your Concepts

Strengthen your concepts with the standard books on each subject. You can get a detailed booklist for UPSC in the linked article. You can also check out our subject-wise strategy to cover the IAS syllabus in the linked article to cover each subject in great detail.

#Tip 5: Revise! Revise! Revise

Revision is really the key to the IAS syllabus! It helps in conceptual clarity and concept retention. Make it a habit to revise whatever you read on a particular day in the night. Dedicate specific days in your weekly and monthly planner specifically to revision. The UPSC exam is not about how much you study but how much you’re able to retain from the UPSC syllabus.

Download UPSC Syllabus Micro topics List Worth Rs. 599 For Free

The first step to UPSC Preparation starts with the sound knowledge of the UPSC Syllabus. So, download the UPSC Syllabus Micro list PDF and get your UPSC journey started! Should you have any further queries, you can trust the guidance of our experts with IAS syllabus coverage. Our courses cover the UPSC syllabus comprehensively. So, whether you’re a fresher or a seasoned aspirant, you’ll have an incredible learning experience. Get in touch with our counsellors to get further information on the courses or check out the UPSC course listing

FAQs Regarding UPSC Syllabus

What are the subjects included in UPSC Syllabus For Prelims?

In UPSC Prelims GS-I, questions are asked from History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Environmental Science and Current Affairs. The GS Paper II although is qualifying in nature has questions from Maths, English (Reading Comprehension) and Logical Reasoning.

Where can I get the UPSC Syllabus PDF?

You can download the UPSC syllabus along with the microlist of topics included in the UPSC syllabus at this link → UPSC Syllabus 2021

How to prepare UPSC syllabus?

Having a robust preparation strategy is necessary for an effective preparation of this exam. Check out the complete UPSC preparation strategy → UPSC Preparation Strategy



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