Civil Services Syllabus


Before you see the Syllabus, you may want to have a quick look at the Civil Services pattern. Civil Services Examination consists of 3 stages and we’ll talk about Prelims and Mains syllabus:

  1. Preliminary Syllabus
  2. Mains Syllabus
  3. Interview

Each year lakhs of aspirants compete against each other to fulfil their dream of becoming an IAS officer. But, to achieve the ultimate goal, one needs a careful and well strategised approach towards the exam as the syllabus is huge and hundreds of books and resources available in the market. Hence, aspirants need to understand the Civil Services Syllabus thoroughly and focus on understanding concepts in minimum time possible rather than reading multiple books for the same subject and wasting time. Remember that the Civil Services Examination tests your breadth of knowledge rather than the depth. A candidate having broad knowledge about various issues and being able to link them to create a holistic picture of various socio-economic targets will have an edge over a candidate who has in-depth knowledge about one or two issues only.

So it is important that you understand and remember the Civil Services Syllabus really well as it will keep you on track with your preparation. Make notes in such a way that each topic should have “static notes” as well as “current affairs notes” sections in itself. This will help immensely during revision. Remember, your ultimate goal is to secure a good rank in the Civil Services Examination. Everything you do or “not do” should be aligned with your final goal. Understanding the syllabus, making short notes and revising them again and again will help you gain confidence in the exam. So let’s begin with the Civil Services Syllabus:

Prelims Syllabus

The Preliminary (Prelims) Exam consists of two papers (2 hours duration each / 200 marks each):

  1. General Studies
  2. CSAT

General Studies Syllabus

  • 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, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.
  • General Science.

CSAT Syllabus

  • 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);

Mains Syllabus

Civil Services Mains Examination consists of 9 papers:

  1. Essay (250 marks)
  2. General Studies-1 (250 marks)
  3. General Studies-2 (250 marks)
  4. General Studies-3 (250 marks)
  5. General Studies-4 (250 marks)
  6. Language Paper-1 (300 marks)
  7. Language Paper-2 (300 marks)
  8. Optional Subject Paper-1 (250 marks)
  9. Optional Subject Paper-2 (250 marks)

The Syllabus for these Papers is as under:


UPSC does not provide any specific syllabus for Essay but instead provides guidelines as under:

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.

Generally UPSC asks two essays of 125 marks each. Their are two sections, each having four essays from which candidates should choose one. Over the past year, essays have been asked from various areas which can be broadly categorised into:

  1. India: Democracy, administration, Society, culture
  2. Economy, Development
  3. Education
  4. Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics
  5. Women empowerment
  6. International issues, Internal Security
  7. Science-Technology

General Studies-1

General Studies has 4 papers viz. GS-1, GS-2, GS-3 and GS-4. Each paper has a pre-defined syllabus and aspirants must carefully read, analyse and memorise the same.

General Studies broadly covers Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society:

  • History – Ancient, Medieval, Modern History of India and World History.

  • Sociology

  • Geography of India and World

The detailed syllabus is as follows:

  • 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 reorganisation 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 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, 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-2

GS-2 paper broadly covers:

  • Governance

  • Constitution of India

  • Indian Polity

  • Social Justice

  • International relations

The detailed syllabus is as follows:

  • 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 neighbourhood- 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-3

GS-3 paper broadly covers:

  • Technology

  • Economic Development

  • Bio diversity

  • Environment

  • Security and Disaster Management

The detailed syllabus is as follows:

  • 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; etechnology in the aid of farmers.
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution Systemobjectives, 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 organised crime with terrorism.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

General Studies-4

GS-4 paper broadly covers:

  • Ethics

  • Integrity

  • Aptitude

UPSC has provided clear guidelines about the scope of this paper. According to UPSC:

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 detailed syllabus is as follows:

  • 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 weaker-sections.
  • 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


The aim of the paper is to test the candidates’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and to 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.

Note: 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.

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