UPSC Syllabus | UPSC Civil Services Exam 2023 -2024 Syllabus Download

On this page, you can read about the Civil Service exam pattern and UPSC syllabus.

UPSC Civil Services Exam 2024 syllabus

Abraham Lincoln wrote,

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.

So, as per the above saying by Lincoln, an aspirant needs to know the complete UPSC Syllabus inside out i.e. sharpening their tools, to start the preparation. UPSC syllabus should be in the aspirant’s head like a mind map. It will help the aspirant in several ways.

  • It helps an aspirant in keeping preparation on the right track. Sometimes, beginners start to over-read the subjects i.e. reading the topics beyond the scope of the UPSC exam.
  • Current Affairs is an important part of UPSC preparation. However, sources are plenty for it. Even in newspapers, all articles are not relevant for the Civil services exam. Thus, the UPSC civil services exam syllabus sets the boundaries within which, an aspirant has to prepare.
  • It helps in organizing the notes for revision. Due to the vast scope of the UPSC Syllabus, an aspirant can end up with a pile of notes, if the reading material is not divided into topics and sub-topics. Thus, dividing every reading material into topics and sub-topics help in organizing the revision material.
  1. UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam – Objective pattern
  2. UPSC Civil Services (Mains) Exam – Descriptive pattern
  3. Personal Interview

UPSC Syllabus for prelims 

The Preliminary Examination will consist of two papers of objective type i.e., Paper I and Paper II. This examination is meant for screening tests only. 

The marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the candidates who are qualified for the main examination will not be counted for determining their final rank. 

The Commission will make a list of candidates eligible for the Civil Services Main Examination based on two criteria:  

  1. Achieving at least 33% in the General Studies Paper of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination.
  2. Obtaining a total qualifying score in General Studies Paper-I of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination, as determined by the Commission.

There will be negative marking for incorrect answers for all questions except some of the questions the negative marking will be inbuilt in the form of different marks being awarded to the most appropriate and not-so-appropriate answer for such questions. 

There are four alternatives for the answers to every question. For each question for which a wrong answer has been marked by the candidate, one-third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as a penalty. 

If a candidate gives more than one answer it will be considered a wrong answer. No marks will be counted for unattempted questions, nor any marks will be deducted. The question paper is set in both languages: English and Hindi. Each paper will be of two hours.

Blind candidates and candidates with Locomotor Disability and Cerebral Palsy where the dominant (writing) extremity is affected to the extent of slowing the performance of function (a minimum of 40% impairment) will however, be allowed an extra time of twenty minutes per hour for each paper. 

The candidate must appear in both papers of the civil services preliminary exam to get evaluated. The candidate is disqualified if he/ she does not appear in both papers.  

Details Paper 1Paper 2
No. of questions 100 80 
Marks carried by each question. 2 2.5 
Negative Marking -0.66 marks for every incorrect answer. -0.83 marks for every incorrect answer. 
Nature  The marks obtained are calculated only for qualifying for the main exam. It is only a qualifying paper.  
Duration  2 Hours (9:30 AM -11:30 AM) 2 Hours (2:30 PM – 4:30 PM) 

Syllabus of Prelims GS Paper 1  

  • 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 specialization. 
  • General Science. 

Syllabus of Prelims Paper 2 (CSAT) 

  • 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 Mains Syllabus

The primary purpose of the Main Examination is to evaluate candidates based on their intellectual qualities and the depth of their understanding, rather than just the extent of their factual knowledge and memorization. 

The nature and standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will be such 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 confine socio-economic goals, objectives and demands.  

The Main written examination comprises nine papers, but only seven of them contribute to the final merit ranking. Each paper carries 250 marks, resulting in a total score of 1750 for the Main exam. 

There are 9 papers in the UPSC Mains (Written) Exam:

Paper – AIndian Language (Any of the language mentioned in 8th schedule)300
Paper – BEnglish300
Paper – IEssay250
Paper – IIGeneral Studies – I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)250
Paper – III


General Studies – II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International Relations)250
Paper – IV


General Studies – III (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Security & Disaster Management)250
Paper – V


General Studies – IV (Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude)250


Paper – VI


Optional Subject – Paper I250


Paper – VII


Optional Subject – Paper II250


Few important points to consider

  • Candidates can write Paper I to Paper VII in English or any of the languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • Paper I to Paper VII will be taken for evaluation only if the candidate obtained 25% of the marks in Paper A and Paper B.
  • There are 48 Optional Subjects in the UPSC exam. The candidate has to select any one subject among them. Two papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) will be conducted from that for 250 marks each.

The written examination consists of the following papers:  


The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose and to express his idea clearly and correctly, in English and Indian languages concerned. 


One of the Indian languages to be selected from the languages included in the eighth schedule to the constitution. It comprises 300 marks.  


English (300 marks)

The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows: 

  • Comprehension of the passages 
  • Precis writing 
  • Usage and vocabulary 
  • Short essays 

Indian languages: 

  • Comprehension of the passage 
  • Precis writing 
  • Usage and vocabulary 
  • Short essays 
  • Translation from English to the Indian language and vice versa  

Paper-I: Essay 

In Essay Paper, candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to adhere closely to the essay’s topic, arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression. 

Paper-II: UPSC Syllabus for General Studies Paper – I (To download Pdf: Click here)

(For topic-wise segregation of GS 1 – Click Here)

  • Art & Culture: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Modern History: 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: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Physical Geography: Salient features of world’s physical geography.
  • Human and Economic 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).
  • Geophysical Phenomena: 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.

Paper III: UPSC Syllabus for General Studies Paper II (To download: Click here)

(For topic-wise segregation of GS 2 – Click Here)

    • Indian Constitution and Polity: 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.
    • GovernanceGovernment 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.
    • 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 JusticeWelfare 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.
    • International RelationsIndia 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.

Paper IV: UPSC Syllabus for General Studies Paper III (To download: Click here)

(For topic-wise segregation of GS III– Click Here)

  • Economic developmentIndian 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, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Environment and Bio-diversityConservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster Management: Disaster and disaster management.
  • Security Issues: 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.

Paper V: UPSC Syllabus for General Studies Paper IV (To download: Click here)

(For topic-wise segregation of GS IV – Click Here)

  • 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.

Paper VI and Paper VII comprise Paper I and Paper II of the optional subjects from among the list of optional subjects.

UPSC IAS Syllabus for Optional Subjects

The UPSC Exam syllabus includes 48 optional subjects covering a wide horizon of subjects including Literature, Arts, Science, Agriculture, Etc. Candidates have to select one optional subject from the IAS syllabus and there will be two papers for 500 marks (250 marks each).

Scope of the syllabus 

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 bachelor’s degree and lower than the master’s degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelor’s degree. 

The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answer. 

Candidates need to choose any one of the below-mentioned subjects as their optional.

Serial NumberList of optional subjectsDetailed  Syllabus


AgricultureSyllabus for Agriculture
2Animal Husbandry and Veterinary ScienceSyllabus for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
3AnthropologySyllabus for Anthropology
4BotanySyllabus for Botany
5ChemistryUPSC Syllabus for Chemistry
6Civil EngineeringUPSC Syllabus for Civil Engineering
7Commerce & AccountancyUPSC Syllabus for Commerce & Accountancy
8EconomicsUPSC Syllabus for Economics
9Electrical EngineeringUPSC Syllabus for Electrical Engineering
10GeographyUPSC Syllabus for Geography
11GeologyUPSC Syllabus for Geology
12HistoryUPSC Syllabus for History
13LawUPSC Syllabus for Law
14ManagementUPSC Syllabus for Management
15MathematicsUPSC Syllabus for Mathematics
16Mechanical EngineeringUPSC Syllabus for Mechanical Engineering
17Medical ScienceUPSC Syllabus for Medical Science
18PhilosophyUPSC Syllabus for Philosophy
19PhysicsUPSC Syllabus for Physics
20Political Science & International RelationsUPSC Syllabus for Political Science & International Relations
21PsychologyUPSC Syllabus for Psychology
22Public AdministrationUPSC Syllabus for Public Administration
23SociologyUPSC Syllabus for Sociology
24StatisticsUPSC Syllabus for Statistics
25ZoologyUPSC Syllabus for Zoology
Serial NumberList of Literature optional subjectsDetailed  Syllabus
1AssameseUPSC Syllabus for Assamese
2BengaliUPSC Syllabus for Bengali
3BodoUPSC Syllabus for Bodo
4DogriUPSC Syllabus for Dogri
5GujaratiUPSC Syllabus for Gujarati
6HindiUPSC Syllabus for Hindi
7KannadaUPSC Syllabus for Kannada
8KashmiriUPSC Syllabus for Kashmiri
9KonkaniUPSC Syllabus for Konkani
10MaithiliUPSC Syllabus for Maithili
11MalayalamUPSC Syllabus for Malayalam
12ManipuriUPSC Syllabus for Manipuri
13MarathiUPSC Syllabus for Marathi
14NepaliUPSC Syllabus for Nepali
15OriyaUPSC Syllabus for Oriya
16PunjabiUPSC Syllabus for Punjabi
17SanskritUPSC Syllabus for Sanskrit
18SanthaliUPSC Syllabus for Santhali
19SindhiUPSC Syllabus for Sindhi
20TamilUPSC Syllabus for Tamil
21TeluguUPSC Syllabus for Telugu
22UrduUPSC Urdu Syllabus 
23EnglishUPSC English Syllabus 

Interview Stage

The objective of the interview stage is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.  

Qualities such as mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, and intellectual and moral integrity are judged during the interview. The interview test is 275 marks. 

Candidates are anticipated to exhibit a keen interest in contemporary events happening within and outside their own state or country as well as in modern intellectual trends and recent breakthroughs that should stimulate the curiosity of well-educated young individuals. 

FAQs Related UPSC Civil Services exam syllabus 

How many days to cover the UPSC syllabus? 

UPSC conducts a civil services exam every year. This allows the candidate a period of one year to comprehensively cover and revise the syllabus for the exam. However, it must be noted that the preparation of the examination should be a balanced coverage of both prelims and mains syllabus.  

Does the syllabus of UPSC change every year? 

There are no changes in UPSC Syllabus 2024 in comparison to UPSC Syllabus 2022 and UPSC Syllabus 2021. 

Is the UPSC syllabus very difficult? 

UPSC syllabus not only examines the knowledge of the individual but also the mental caliber of the candidate. Due to vast syllabus and tough competition, this exam is often regarded as one of the toughest exams in the country. Although with strategic and comprehensive preparation, one can successfully cover the syllabus within the needed duration of time.   

How many months current affairs need to be covered for UPSC civil services examination? 

Candidates are recommended to be updated with at least 1-year of current affairs before appearing the exam. However, an overview of all the relevant events is required thoroughly. Candidates are required to not only know the facts and figures but have a deep and analytical understanding of events.

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