IAS Syllabus Prelims and Mains

UPSC prelims syllabus 2018/Full syllabus of IAS/Indian Civil Services syllabus

This article will give in detail about the UPSC Syllabus for IAS Prelims and Mains. Read through to know the complete IAS Syllabus Prelims and Mains/syllabus of UPSC civil services.

Before getting into the UPSC Syllabus for IAS let’s check on the number and nature of the papers for prelims and mains exam.

Syllabus Of Civil Services exam syllabus/Civil Service Exam Syllabus

UPSC IAS Prelims Exam Papers

  1. General Studies (GS) Paper I
  2. General Studies (GS) CSAT Paper II (Qualifying in nature)


UPSC IAS Mains Exam Papers

The IAS Mains Exam has 9 papers and they are:

  1. Essay Paper
  2. Compulsory English Paper
  3. Compulsory Indian Language Paper
  4. General Studies Paper I
  5. General Studies Paper II
  6. General Studies Paper III
  7. General Studies Paper IV
  8. Optional Paper I
  9. Option Paper II


What is the syllabus of IAS Exam?

IAS Syllabus Prelims

 IAS Syllabus Prelims General Studies Paper I

Below mentioned is the syllabus for prelims as defined by the Union Public Service Commission in their notification released every year. Unlike the UPSC Exam Pattern, the UPSC Syllabus has not seen much change.

Syllabus: Prelims 
Marks: 200
Duration: 2 hours

  • Current Events of National & International Importance
  • History of India and Indian National Movement
  • Indian and World Geography: Physical, Social, and Economic Geography of India and the World
  • Indian Polity and Governance: Constitution, Political System, Panchayat 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 

Syllabus: Prelims General Studies Paper II
Marks: 200

Duration: 2 hours

  • Comprehensions
  • 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 10 level, Data interpretation: Chart, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc. -Class 10 level


Paper II of the UPSC IAS Prelims exam is of qualifying nature and a candidate should score minimum of 33% The questions of GS Paper I and II are multiple choice and objective type.

Candidates should compulsorily appear for both the papers of prelims exam for the purpose of evaluation. A candidate will be disqualified I appeared for only paper.



IAS Syllabus Prelims

The UPSC Main Exam assesses the intellectual qualities and depth of understanding of candidates rather than the information they have studies and mugged up.

The UPSC syllabus for the general studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) of mains exam are such that a candidate without any specialized study can prepare for the exam.

The syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and VII) is broadly of honours degree level i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the Masters’ degree. While for Engineering, Medical Science and Law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.

IAS Syllabus Mains : Compulsory English Paper

Nature: Qualifying
Marks: 300 
Duration: 3 Hours

  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Short Essays


IAS Syllabus Mains: Compulsory Indian Language Paper

Nature: Qualifying
Marks: 300
Duration: 3 Hours

  • Comprehension of given passages.
  • Precis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Short Essays
  • Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa


The question papers on Indian Language and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will be counted for ranking.

The candidates should answer the English and Indian Language Paper in English and respective Indian Language correspondingly. 


IAS Syllabus Mains: Essay Paper

Marks: 250
Duration: 3 Hours

  • Candidates are required to write essays on multiple topics.
  • Should keep the essay closely to the topic
  • Arrange the ideas in orderly fashion
  • Write concisely
  • Present the essay with exact expression and in an effective way.


IAS Syllabus Mains: General Studies Paper I

Marks: 250
Duration: 3 Hours

Subjects: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the Word and Society

Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture Form from Ancient to modern times

Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century till Present; Significant events, personalities, issues.

The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors / Contributions from various Parts of the Country

Post-Independence consolidation as well as 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, 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 and 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.


IAS Syllabus Mains: General Studies Paper II

Marks: 250
Duration: 3 Hours

Subjects: 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


IAS Syllabus Mains: General Studies Paper III

Marks: 250
Duration: 3 Hours

Subjects: 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 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.

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 organized crime with terrorism.

Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


IAS Syllabus Mains: General Studies Paper IV

Marks: 250
Duration: 3 Hours

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 ethics paper was introduced by the USPC to analyse the candidate’s attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his/her problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him/her while dealing with society. Questions are asked in the UPSC Exam based on these traits and these questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects.