Strategy for Civil Engineering Optional for UPSC

The UPSC offers three engineering subjects in the choice of optionals that a candidate can select for the IAS mains. Civil engineering is one of the optional subjects on offer. This is not a popular optional and less than 100 candidates opt for it every year. Nevertheless, it is considered a scoring optional in the UPSC exam. Needless to say, only civil engineering graduates are recommended to take this optional as it would be simply impossible for a person with any other background to study what engineering graduates have studied for four years. In this article, you can get all the information you need on the civil engineering optional – strategy, syllabus, toppers, success rate, etc.

How many take Civil Engineering optional?

The civil engineering optional is taken only by a few candidates every year as it is a highly specialised subject. Let us take a look at the number of candidates appearing and clearing the IAS exam with this optional.

Civil Engineering Success Rate

Year No.of candidates appeared No.of candidates cleared Success Rate (%)
2010 59 1 1.7
2011 59 2 3.4
2012 47 5 10.6
2013 54 7 13
2014 91 7 7.7
2015 80 4 5

Civil Engineering optional toppers

Name Year Rank
Sameer Kumar Jena 2017 684
Avdhesh Meena 2016 32
Vinay Tiwari 2014 193
Ashish Vashishth 2013 15

Civil Engineering optional pros and cons

In this section, we give you a list of the pros and cons associated with this optional. If you are a civil engineering graduate or pursuing a degree in civil engineering, you should go through the UPSC optional for civil engineering and then look at the pros and cons of this subject. Taking into consideration your own strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis this subject, you should come to a decision regarding your optional subject.

Civil Engineering optional pros

  • The subject would be familiar to you as you would have studied it for four years in college. There is no need to start from scratch.
  • It is a scoring subject as it has its basis in science and mathematics.With adequate practice, you can score really high marks.
  • This optional has seen consistent performance throughout the years.
  • You can score marks through diagrams and numericals.
  • You can also try for the engineering services exam (ESE) with this optional subject.
  • The subject has a defined and static syllabus. There is no current affairs portion in the syllabus.
  • The assessment is pretty objective as it is an engineering subject.

Civil Engineering optional cons

  • The overlap with general studies is almost nil.
  • The syllabus for the civil engineering optional is vast. It is actually difficult to finish it on time.
  • The two papers in this optional are also considered lengthy and many candidates have been unable to complete them.
  • Even though the subject is scoring, the average marks are not so high. It can be scoring and it depends entirely on the candidate.

Civil Engineering optional syllabus

Let us take a look at the syllabus for civil engineering for the UPSC mains exam.

There are two optional papers in the UPSC exam pattern. Both the papers are for a total of 250 marks making the total optional marks to 500.

UPSC Civil Engineering Syllabus PDF:-Download Syllabus PDF

Civil Engineering Optional Strategy

Paper I Strategy

Engineering Mechanics – For this part, you can refer to Engineering Mechanics by Irvin Shames. This is a relatively easy part of the syllabus. Solve previous years question papers and study from the book. That would do it.

Strength of Materials – This is a scoring section of the syllabus. You can refer to Strength of Materials by Stephen Timoshenko for the conceptual part and Strength of Materials By S. Ramamrutham for practice questions.

Structural Analysis – For this section, you can use Intermediate Structural Analysis by CK Wang for the conceptual part and Theory of Structures by Ramamrutham for practice questions.

Structural Steel Design – This is one of the lengthiest sections in the syllabus. The UPSC asks both the new code (limit state) and the old code (working stress). You can refer to Design of Steel Structures by S Duggal. Or, you can also use Design of Steel Structures by N Subramanian.

Design of Concrete and Masonry Structures – Refer to Handbook Of Reinforced Concrete Design by SN Sinha and Prestressed Concrete by N Krishna Raju.

Fluid Mechanics – For this section, you can study Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics Including Hydraulics Machines by Modi and Seth. Do remember the derivations of euler’s, navier-stokes, etc. Other important topics are boundary layer and turbulent flows.

Open Channel – This is an easy and scoring section and can be covered from Flow in Open Channels by K Subramanya.

Hydraulic Machines and Hydropower – The book by Modi and Seth covers this topic. This is a tough portion as the UPSC asks difficult questions here.

Geotechnical Engineering – Focus on shear strength, foundation and earth pressure as questions are frequently asked from them. You can refer to Basic and Applied Soil Mechanics by Gopal Ranjan and Rao for the conceptual part and Soil Mechanics And Foundation Engineering by SK Garg for practice questions.

Paper II Strategy

Construction, Construction Technology & CPM – For this lengthy section, you can use Building Construction by Arora and Bindra and Construction, Planning and Management by UK Srivastava. The questions here are mostly predictable. Use diagrams effectively here.

Surveying and Transportation Engineering – You can use Surveying by BC Punmia. You should not leave the topic photogrammetry. Basic things like PT survey and levelling should be done.

Railways Engineering – You can use A Text Book Of Railway Engineering by Saxena and Arora. The questions asked from here are generally simple.

Highway Engineering – Use Highway Engineering by Khanna and Justo for numericals. You should do all the designs well.

Hydrology – This section can be covered from Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering by SK Garg. Here, the UPSC generally asks easy questions in theory and slightly difficult questions in numericals.

Irrigation Engineering – For this section, read Irrigation Engineering and Hydraulic Structures by SK Garg. Here, do the theory part really well and practice previous years’ UPSC questions.

Environmental Engineering – SK Garg’s two volumes on Environmental Engineering are enough for the topic. Study all the formulas well as the UPSC does asks unconventional formulas from this topic.

General tips for civil engineering optional

  • Practice the previous years’ UPSC question papers. This will help you understand the important topics.
  • Have a list of formulas as a ready-reckoner with you.
  • Practice and incorporate diagrams in your answers.
  • Enrol in a mains test series as the papers are lengthy and you need ample exam simulation to be able to complete the papers.

UPSC Civil Engineering Study Material

  1. Engineering Mechanics by Irvin Shames
  2. Strength of Materials by Stephen Timoshenko
  3. Strength of Materials By S. Ramamrutham
  4. Intermediate Structural Analysis by CK Wang
  5. Theory of Structures by S. Ramamrutham
  6. Design of Steel Structures by S Duggal
  7. Design of Steel Structures by N Subramanian
  8. Prestressed Concrete by N Krishna Raju
  9. Handbook Of Reinforced Concrete Design by SN Sinha
  10. Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics Including Hydraulics Machines by Modi and Seth
  11. Flow in Open Channels by K Subramanya
  12. Basic and Applied Soil Mechanics by Gopal Ranjan and Rao
  13. Soil Mechanics And Foundation Engineering by SK Garg
  14. Building Construction by Arora and Bindra
  15. Construction, Planning and Management by UK Srivastava
  16. Surveying by BC Punmia
  17. A Text Book Of Railway Engineering by Saxena and Arora
  18. Highway Engineering by Khanna and Justo
  19. Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering by SK Garg
  20. Environmental Engineering (both volumes) by SK Garg

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