UPSC Syllabus

Preliminary Examination

Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • 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, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science


Paper II- (200 marks) Duration: Two hours

  • 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 – Class X level)

Note 1: Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%
Note 2: The questions will be of multiple choices, objective type.
Note 3: It is mandatory for the candidate to appear in both the Papers of Civil Services (Prelim) Examination for the purpose of evaluation.


Mains Examination

Qualifying Papers on Indian Languages and English:

The aim of the paper is to test the candidate’s ability to read and understand serious discursive prose, and express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian Language concerned. The pattern of questions would be broadly as follows :-

(i) Comprehension of given passages

(ii) Précis Writing

(iii) Usage and Vocabulary

(iv) Short Essays Indian Languages

(v) Translation from English to the Indian language and vice-versa.

Note 1: 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 2: The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where translation is involved).

PAPER-I (Essay):

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.

PAPER-II (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- significant events, personalities, 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 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism – 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 , 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  (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

PAPER-IV (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 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 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 Achievement 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

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.

  • 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 behavior; 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 Case Studies on above issues.

PAPER-VI & VII Optional Paper:

  1. Political Science & International Relations
  2. Tamil Literature

1. Political Science & International Relations


A) Political Theory and Indian Politics

  • Political theory meaning and approaches
  • Theories of the state: Liberal, Pluralist, Marxist, Neoliberal, Post- colonial and feminist
  • Justice: Conceptions of justice with reference to Rawl’s theory of justice; communitarian critiques
  • Equality: Relationship between equality and freedom; Political, Social, and economic; Affirmative action
  • Rights: Meaning and theories; the concept of Human Rights; different kinds of rights
  • Democracy: Contemporary and Classical theories; different models of democracy – deliberative, participatory and representative
  • The concept of power, legitimacy, ideology and Hegemony
  • Political Ideologies:   Liberalism,   Marxism,   Fascism,   Feminism, Gandhism, and Socialism
  • Indian Political Thought: Arthashastra, Dharamshastra, and Buddhist traditions; Sri Aurobindo, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, R. Ambedkar, M.K. Gandhi, M.N. Roy.
  • Western Political Thought: Plato, Machiavelli, John Mill, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, Gramsci and Hannah Arendt.

B) Indian Government and politics

  1. Indian Nationalism:
  • Perspectives on Indian National Movement: Socialist, Liberal, and Marxist; Radical humanist and Dalit
  • Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Civil Disobedience, constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Non-cooperation; Peasant and workers’ movements, militant and revolutionary movements
  • Making of the Indian Constitution: Legacies of the British rule; Different political and social perspectives.
  • Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: Fundamental Rights and Duties, The Preamble, Directive Principles; Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine, Parliamentary System and Amendment Procedures.
  • Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, Executive, and Supreme Court.
  • Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, Executive, and High Courts
  • Grassroots Democracy: Significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government; Grassroot movements.
  • Statutory Institutions/ Commissions: Comptroller, Election Commission, and Auditor General, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Women; National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Human Rights Commission, National Backward Classes Commission, National Commission for Minorities.
  • Federalism: Changing nature of centre-state relations; Constitutional provisions; integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations; inter-state disputes.
  • Planning and Economic Development: the role of planning and public sector; Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives; land reforms and agrarian relations; Green Revolution, liberalization and economic reforms.
  • Religion, Caste, and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.
  • Party System: Ideological and social bases of parties; National and regional political parties, Pressure groups, trends in electoral behaviour; patterns of coalition politics; changing the socio-economic profile of Legislators.
  • Social Movements: Women’s movements; Civil liberties and human rights movements; environmentalist movements


A) Comparative Politics and International Relation

1. Comparative Politics: Political economy and political sociology perspectives; Nature and major approaches; limitations of the comparative method.

2. State in comparative perspective: Advanced industrial and developing societies, Characteristics and changing nature of the State in socialist and capitalist economies.

3. Politics of Representation and Participation: Pressure groups, Political parties, and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.

4. Globalisation: Responses from developing and developed societies.

5. Approaches to the Study of International Relations: Realist, Idealist, Functionalist, Marxist, and Systems theory.

6. Key concepts in International Relations: Balance of power and deterrence; Security, National interest, and power; World capitalist economy and globalisation; Transnational actors and collective security.

7. Changing International Political Order:

  • Rise of superpowers; arms race and Cold War; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, nuclear threat;
  • Non-aligned movement: Achievements and Aims;
  • Unipolarity and American hegemony; Collapse of the Soviet Union; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary

8. Evolution of the International Economic System: Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); From Brettonwoods to WTO; Globalisation of the world economy; Third World demand for new international economic order.

9. United Nations: specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; Envisaged role and actual record; the need for UN reforms.

10. Regionalisation of World Politics: SAARC, ASEAN, EU, APEC, NAFTA.

11. Contemporary Global Concerns: Gender justice, Human rights, Democracy, nuclear proliferation, environment, terrorism.

B)  India and the World

1. Indian Foreign Policy: Institutions of policy-making; Determinants of foreign policy; continuity and change.

2. India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement: Current role; Different phases;

3. India and South Asia:

  • South Asia as a Free Trade
  • Regional Co-operation: SAARC – future prospects and past
  • Impediments to regional co-operation: illegal cross-border migration; river water disputes; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border
  • India’s “Look East”

4. India and the Global South: Leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations, Relations with Africa and Latin America.

5. India and the Global Centres of Power: EU, China, USA, Japan, and Russia.

6. India and the UN System: Demand for Permanent Seat in the Security Council; Role in UN Peace-keeping.

7. India and the Nuclear Question: Changing policy and perceptions.

8. Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy: Growing relations with US and Israel; India’s position on the recent crisis in West Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the vision of new world order.

2. Tamil Literature


Section: A
Part: 1  History of Tamil Language

Major Indian Language Families-The place of Tamil among Indian languages in general and Dravidian in particular-Enumeration and Distribution of Dravidian languages.

The language of Sangam literature-The language of medieval Tamil: Pallava period only-Historical study of Nouns, Verbs, adjectives, adverbs Tense markers and case markers in Tamil.

Borrowing of words from other languages into Tamil-Regional and social dialects-difference between literary and spoken Tamil.

Part: 2 History of Tamil Literature

Tolkappiyam-Sangam Literatue-The division of Akam and puram-The secular characteristics of Sangam Literature-The development of Ethical literature-Silappadikaram and Manimekalai.

Part: 3 Devotional literature (Alwars and Nayanmars) The bridal mysticism in Alwar hymns-Minor literary forms (Tutu, Ula, Parani, Kuravanji)

Social factors for the development of Modern Tamil literature: Novel, Short story and New Poetry-The impact of various political ideologies on modern writings.

Section: B
Part:1 Recent trends in Tamil Studies

Approaches to criticism: Social , psychologiocal, hostorical and moralistic- the use of criticism-the various techniques in literature: Ullurai, Iraicchi, Thonmam (Myth) Otturuvagam (allegory), Angadam (Satire), Meyppadu, Padimam(image), Kuriyeedu (Symbol), Irunmai (ambiguity)-The concep[t of comparative literature-the principle of comparative literature.

Part: 2 Folk literature in Tamil:   

Ballads, Songs, proverbs and riddles- Sociological study of Tamil folklore. Uses of translation-Translation of Tamil works into other languages-Development of journalism in Tamil.

Part: 3 Cultural Heritage of the Tamils

Concept of Love and War-Concept of Aram-the ethical codes adopted by the ancient Tamils in their warfare-customs, beliefs, rituals, modes of worship in the five Thinais. The cultural changes as revealed in post sangam literature-cultural fusion in the medieval period (Jainism & Buddhism). The development of arts and architecture through the ages (Pallavas, later cholas, and Nayaks). The impact of various political, social, religious and cultural movements on Tamil Society. The role of mass media in the cultural change of contemporary Tamil society.


Answers must be written in Tamil.

The paper will require first hand reading of the Text prescribed and will be designed to test the critical ability of the candidate.

Section-: A
Part: 1 Ancient Literature

  • Kuruntokai (1-25 poems)
  • Purananurui (182-200 poems)
  • Tirukkural Porutpal : Arasiyalum Amaichiyalum (from Iraimatchi to Avaianjamai)

Part : 2 Epic Literature

  • Silappadikaram: Madhurai Kandam
  • Kambaramayanam: Kumbakarunan Vadhai Padalam

Part 3: Devotional Literature

  • Tiruvasagam: Neetthal Vinnappam
  • Tiruppavai: (Full Text)

Section-: B Modern Literature
Part:1 Poetry

  • Bharathiar: Kannan Pattu
  • Bharathidasan: Kudumba Vilakku
  • Kamarasan: Karuppu Malarkal Prose
  • Varadharajanar. Aramum Arasiyalum
  • C N Annadurai: Ye! Thazhntha

Part : 2 Novel, Short story and Drama

  • Akilon: Chittirappavai
  • Jayakanthan: Gurupeedam
  • Cho: Yarukkum Vetkamillai

Part: 3 Folk Literature

  • Muthuppattan Kathai Edited by Na. Vanamamalai, (Publication: Madurai Kamaraj University)
  • Malaiyaruvi, Edited by Va Jagannathan (Publication: Saraswathi, Mahal, Thanjavur)