UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2019 – General Studies & CSAT For Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam

UPSC Prelims is the screening stage of the Civil Services Exam which is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission every year. This stage is officially known as the Civil Services (Preliminary) exam but in common parlance, aspirants refer to it as UPSC Prelims or IAS Prelims.

The syllabus for UPSC Prelims 2019 is discussed in-depth in this article. Ever since the pattern change in the UPSC Prelims exam in 2011, the syllabus has remained the same, broadly speaking.

You can check the complete UPSC Syllabus here.

The UPSC Prelims syllabus can be divided into two parts:

  1. General Studies Paper I
  2. CSAT or General Studies Paper II

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2019

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2019 Maximum Marks Duration Of Exam
General Studies Paper – I

  • 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
200 Marks 2 Hours
CSAT/ General Studies Paper- II

  • 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)
200 Marks 2 Hours

UPSC Prelims Syllabus 2019 PDF:-Download PDF Here

UPSC CSAT Syllabus

The General Studies Paper II in UPSC Prelims is often referred to as CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test. The CSAT exam has been part of controversy ever since its introduction. A section of candidates has alleged that CSAT is negatively biased towards them. In 2014-2015, CSAT was declared to be a ‘Qualifying Exam’ with a 33% pass criteria. The GS II or CSAT intends to check the analytical skills of the IAS aspirants.

For complete details on CSAT (exam pattern, strategy, previous question papers, study material), please refer to the article CSAT 2019.

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for GS I

The GS I paper in the IAS prelims comprises of topics from history, geography, economy, polity and governance, general science, and most importantly current affairs. The subtopics are mentioned below.

Current Affairs Syllabus

In UPSC Prelims (and in Mains), the focus on dynamic questions has increased in recent years. Even from sections like Polity which were considered to be static, more and more questions seem to have their base in some recent issue/topic in the news. Moreover, Indian Economy and Environment portions in the UPSC Prelims Syllabus focus mostly on Current Affairs.

Few important sources for current affairs preparation are:

  1. Yojana Magazine and Kurukshetra Magazine
  2. Economic and Political Weekly
  3. Press Information Bureau Releases (PIB)
  4. The Hindu and The Indian Express

Important links related to UPSC Prelims syllabus for current affairs:

  1. Comprehensive daily news analysis
  2. The gist of Yojana
  3. The gist of EPW
  4. Daily video analysis of The Hindu
  5. Economy This Week for UPSC Preparation

UPSC Prelims Syllabus – History of India and Indian National Movement

The official UPSC Notification 2019 mentions under the syllabus of UPSC Prelims GS 1 that the paper will have questions on “History of India and Indian National Movement”. This is a broad classification and to prepare History as per UPSC Prelims syllabus, candidates need to use “divide and conquer” so as to speak.

Ancient History of India

  1. Prehistoric cultures in India
  2. Indus Valley Civilization. Origins- the different phases- society, economy, and culture- Contacts with other cultures- factors lead to the decline.
  3. Geographical distribution and characteristics of pastoral and farming society.
  4. Vedic society-Vedic texts- change from Rigvedic to later Vedic phases.
  5. Vedic society Religion- Upanishad thought-Political and social organization, the evolution of Varna system and monarchy.
  6. Formation of the State and urbanization, from the Mahajanapadas to the Nandas.
  7. Buddhism and Jainism- Factors for the spread of Buddhism.
  8. The Mauryan Empire- Chandragupta and Megasthenes.
  9. Ashoka and his inscriptions, his dhamma, culture, administration, and art
  10. Society of Post-Mauryan India, BC 200- AD 300- Evolution of Jatis.
  11. The Satavahanas and formation of the state in the Peninsula.
  12. Sangam texts and society.
  13. Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians, Kushans, Kanishka-Contacts with the outer world.
  14. Different Religion- Bhagavatism, Shaivism, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana, Jainism and Culture and art.
  15. The Guptas and their descendants.
  16. Literature science, Arts, Economy, and society -Modification in the political organization of empire.

Medieval Indian History

  1. Early Medieval India. Major dynasties; Political and Agrarian organization. Status of women, Extent of social mobility. The Arabs in Sind and the Ghaznavids.
  2. Cultural trends, 750-1200, Religious circumstances: significance of temples and monastic institutions; Sankaracharya; Islam; Sufism. Art and architecture. Literature and Science.
  3. 13th and 14th Centuries: Ghorian invasions reasons and consequences. Delhi Sultanate under the Slave Rulers. Aladdin Khalji: invasion; administrative, agrarian and economic measures. Muhammad Tughlug’s innovations. Firuz Tughluq and the decline of the Delhi Sultanate. Development of urbanization and commerce. Spiritual movements in Hinduism and Islam. Literature. Architecture, Technological changes.
  4. The 15th and early 16th Century: Key Provincial dynasties; Vijayanagara Empire. The Lodhis, First stage of the Mughal Empire: The Sur Empire and administration. Monotheistic movements: Kabir; Guru Nanak and Sikhism; Bhakti. The spread of regional literature. Art and Culture.
  5. The Mughal Empire, Akbar: invasion, administrative measures, Policy of Sulh-I-Kul. Jagir and Mansab systems; Jahangir, Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb: extension of Mughal empire in the Deccan; religious policies. Shivaji. Persian and regional literature. Religious idea: Abul Fazl; Maharashtra dharma. Architecture. Painting. Economy: state of affairs of peasants and artisans, escalation in trade; trade with Europe. Social stratification and position of women.
  6. The decline of Mughal Empire, Reason behind the decline. Maratha power under the Peshwas. The Afghans. Regional states. Most important components of composite culture. Sawai Jai Singh, astronomer. The rise of Urdu language.

Modern India -Indian National Movement

  1. British extension: The Carnatic Wars, invasion of Bengal. Mysore and its confrontation to British expansion: The three Anglo-Maratha Wars. Regulating and Pitt’s India Acts. Early composition of the British raj.
  2. Economic Impact of the British Raj: land revenue settlements like Zamindari, Ryotwari, Mahalwari; Deindustrialization; Railways and commercialization of agriculture; increase of landless labour.
  3. Cultural encounter and social changes: inception of western education and modern thoughts. Indian Renaissance, religious and social reform movements; Social reforms events before 1857. Development of Indian middle class; the vernacular press and its effects: the rise of modern literature in Indian languages.
  4. Confrontation to British rule: Early uprisings; The 1857 Revolt-reasons, character, course and result.
  5. Indian Freedom struggle the first stage: Growth of national consciousness; creation of Associations; Establishment of the Indian National Congress and its Moderate stage; Swadeshi Movement; Economic Nationalism; The development of Extremism and the split in Congress; The policy of Divide and Rule; Congress-League Pact of 1916.
  6. Gandhian thoughts and techniques of mass mobilization- Civil Disobedience, the Khilafat movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, and Quit India Movement; another strand in the National Movement-Revolutionaries, Subhash Chandra Bose, and the Indian National Army.
  7. Separatist movements in Indian politics- the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League; Partition and Independence; The post -1945 developments.
  8. India independent to 1964. A parliamentary, democratic, secular. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision, Foreign policy of Non-alignment, Planning and state-controlled industrialization. Agrarian modification.

The art, culture and architecture in the ancient and medieval times are quite important from the IAS exam perspective, although it isn’t specifically mentioned in the syllabus for UPSC Prelims.

As History portion overlaps in UPSC Syllabus for Prelims and Mains, aspirants should make notes keeping in mind the descriptive nature of questions in IAS Mains, and practice MCQs for Prelims.

Important links related to UPSC Prelims Syllabus for History:

  1. Download PDF of History syllabus for UPSC Prelims
  2. Check out the UPSC Mains syllabus for General Studies
  3. Some tips, tricks and infographics for History portion of UPSC Prelims
  4. UPSC mains optional History Syllabus

UPSC Prelims Syllabus – Indian and World Geography

As per the UPSC Prelims Syllabus, Geography portion comprises Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World. Similar to History, Geography is a vast subject with overlap in both UPSC syllabus for Prelims and Mains. Also, Geography is an optional subject choice in IAS Mains.

Indian Geography

  1. The basic idea about India
    1. Location, latitude, longitude, time zone,
    2. Neighbouring countries
    3. States and its position and the states on International boundaries
    4. Important straits
  2. Physical features of India
    1. The Himalayas
      1. Geological Formation
      2. Physiographic divisions
      3. Climate, Vegetation, Soil and Biodiversity
      4. Major passes
      5. Significance
      6. Recent issues
    2. The Great North Indian plains
      1. Geological Formation
      2. Physiographic divisions
      3. Climate, Vegetation, Soil and Biodiversity
      4. Significance
    3. Peninsular Plateau
      1. Geological formation
      2. Deccan plateau
      3. Central Highlands
      4. Western and Eastern Ghats
      5. Socio-economic issues related
    4. Indian Desert
    5. Coastal plains and Islands
  3. River systems – Characteristics, comparison and significance
    1. Himalayan rivers
    2. Peninsular rivers
    3. River basins
    4. Hydro-Power projects, Power plants and Major Dams
    5. Regional development and planning
    6. West flowing and east flowing rivers
    7. Interlinking of rivers
  4. Climate in India
    1. Monsoon
      1. Driving mechanism
      2. Effects of La-Nino and El-Nino
      3. Recent theories
    2. Season of India
    3. Cyclones
  5. Mineral and industries
    1. Distribution of minerals
    2. Industrial policies
    3. Location factors
    4. Issues and challenges of the industries
    5. Industrial clusters
  6. Agriculture and Allied-characteristics and Problems
    1. Land utilization
    2. Types of agriculture practices
    3. Soils and Crops
    4. Trends agriculture (Green revolution )
    5. Irrigation
    6. Major irrigation projects
    7. Land reforms
    8. Government policies and schemes
    9. Animal husbandry (livestock resources)
  7. Natural vegetation and fauna- Characteristics, importance, comparison and significance
    1. Classification of natural vegetation
    2. Rainfall distribution
    3. Wildlife sanctuaries
    4. National Forest Policy
    5. Biosphere reserve
    6. National parks
    7. Environmental issues
    8. Red-listed species (in recent news)
  8. Economic infrastructure
    1. Transportation,
    2. Road(National Highways)- Rail- Air- Water(Major inland waterways) and its Significance
    3. Power and energy sector
    4. Sources of conventional and non-conventional energy
    5. Energy conservation and crisis
    6. Recent developments
  9. Human Geography
    1. Demographics
    2. Recent census- 2011

World Geography & Physical Geography

  1. Universe
    1. Theories related to Solar System
    2. Theories related to the formation of the universe
    3. Recent updates on the same
  2. The basic idea about Earth
    1. The motion of the Earth – Rotation and Revolution
    2. Latitudes and Longitudes
    3. The inclination of the Earth’s Axis – effect on seasons
    4. Solar Eclipse, Lunar Eclipse and Tides and their significance
  3. Geomorphology
    1. Earth’s movement (exo-genetic and endo-genetic)
    2. Earthquakes, volcanic activity
    3. The basic idea about Continental Drift Theory, Plate Tectonics Theory, Sea Floor Spreading
  4. Interior of the earth
    1. lithosphere
    2. Interaction of lithosphere with other spheres
    3. Boundaries and composition
  5. Mass Movements of landforms, erosion and deposits
    1. Basic information about geographical landforms and their significance
    2. Rock system and Classification of Rocks
  6. Climatology
    1. Structure and composition of the atmosphere
    2. Factors controlling the temperature distribution
    3. Insolation and terrestrial radiation
    4. Heat budget
    5. Global warming and ozone layer
    6. Humidity and condensation
    7. Clouds
    8. Classification of clouds
    9. Precipitation
    10. Precipitation mechanism
    11. Different types and forms of precipitation
    12. Pressure belts
    13. Atmospheric circulation
    14. Winds
    15. Planetary Winds
    16. Seasonal and local Winds
    17. Cyclones Tropical and Temperate cyclone
    18. Formation of cyclone, characteristics and impact
    19. Jet streams
    20. Various atmospheric phenomenon
  7. The hydrosphere
    1. Bottom relief of ocean
    2. Salinity and temp variation
    3. Ocean Currents
    4. Ocean deposit
    5. Ocean resources
    6. Recent issues and development with ref to oceanography- Eg: UNCLOS
  8. Biosphere
    1. Major Biomes
    2. Flora and fauna
    3. International organization for biodiversity
    4. Conservation of Biodiversity
    5. Recent issues
  9. Economic geography
  10. Map work
  11. Places in news

Note – Part of Geography portion and Environmental Ecology overlap in the syllabus of UPSC Prelims.

Important links related to UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Geography:

  1. UPSC Mains optional Geography Syllabus
  2. Video lecture on understanding Geography and IR through Maps

UPSC Prelims Syllabus – Indian Polity and Governance

As per the UPSC Prelims Syllabus, Polity portion comprises Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc. Polity has a lot of static and dynamic elements and it has overlap with the syllabus of UPSC Prelims and Mains.

Indian Polity and Governance

  1. Preamble
    1. Features of preamble
    2. 42nd Amendment
    3. Swaran Singh committee
  2. Schedules
    1. The basic idea about 12 schedules
  3. Constitution of India
    1. The basic idea about All articles
    2. Historical Background
    3. Drafting committee and the making of the Constitution
    4. Influence of other constitutions
    5. Its salient features
  4. Union and its Territory
    1. The basic idea about Article 1-4
    2. State reorganization and different Commissions
    3. Federal nature
    4. Recent issues
  5. Citizenship
    1. The basic idea about Article 5-11
    2. PIO, NRI, OCI and Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
    3. Privileges available for Indian citizens and foreigners
    4. Citizenship Amendment Act of 2016
    5. New policies, schemes and recent changes in voting.
  6. Fundamental Rights (FR)
    1. The basic idea about Article 12-35
    2. A thorough understanding of Articles 14- 30 and Art. 32
    3. Rights and privileges available to citizens of India only and both to citizens and foreigners
    4. 44th amendment act
    5. Different types of Writs
    6. Enforcement and Exceptional cases with regard to FR’s
    7. RTE and recent issues related to FR
  7. Fundamental Duties(FD)
    1. Article 51A
    2. Difference between FR and FD
    3. Significance and Criticism
    4. Enforcement of FD’s
    5. Recent issues about FD
  8. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
    1. The basic idea about Article and Article 36-51 and Article 368
    2. Sources and key features of DPSP
    3. Classification of DPSP
    4. Comparison/ conflicts between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
    5. Keshavananda Bharathi, Minerva Mills, Golaknath Case, Maneka Gandhi case.
    6. Important Amendments- 42nd Amendment, 44th Amendment, and 97th amendment
  9. Union
    1. The basic idea about Article 52-73
    2. Qualification and Election
    3. Function and Powers- (Executive, Legislative, Financial, Judicial, Diplomatic, Military and Emergency Powers)
    4. Resignation and impeachment
    5. Role and responsibilities and relationship with Prime minister, Council of Minister, Cabinet ministers.
    6. Prime minister and council of ministers- Basic idea about Article 74-75
    7. Powers and Functions
    8. Council of ministers
    9. Resignation and Removal
    10. Attorney general
    11. Parliament
      1. The basic idea about Article related
      2. Role and functions of the Parliament
      3. Sessions, Motions, Parliamentary procedure – Summoning, Prorogation, Joint Sitting
      4. Parliamentary proceedings like Question Hour, Zero Hour, and Adjournment Motion etc.
      5. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,
      6. Special powers of Rajya Sabha
      7. Anti-defection law and 10th schedule
      8. Parliamentary Privileges
      9. Bill and lawmaking procedure
      10. Budget, funds and it’s summary
      11. Parliamentary Committees
  10. Judiciary
    1. The basic idea about Article related to the judiciary.
    2. Powers of Supreme court and high court
    3. Qualification and appointment
    4. Removal procedure
    5. Recent controversy, verdicts, and constitutional provisions.
  11. State Government- State Executive
    1. Governor- appointment, removal and special powers.
    2. Executive, Legislative, Financial, Judicial powers and discretionary of the governor
    3. 7th constitutional amendment
    4. Chief minister and council of ministers
    5. Power of chief minister
    6. State Legislature
      1. State legislature compared to the Parliament with regard to composition, powers, and functions.
      2. Bicameral legislatures
      3. Creation and abolition of the Legislative councils
    7. Administration of Union Territories (UT)
    8. Special provision for Delhi
    9. Administration and jurisdiction in UT’s
  12. Administration of Special Areas
    1. Basic idea about 5thSchedule 6th Schedule
    2. Recent issues related to Administration of Special Areas
    3. Special provision for Jammu and Kashmir-Article 370
    4. Difference between constitutional provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir
  13. Emergency Provisions
    1. National emergency- Article 352
    2. President’s rule or State emergency- Article 356
    3. Financial emergency- Article 360
    4. 44th amendment act
    5. Effects and implications of emergency
    6. Role of President in emergency time
    7. The State of FR, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha
    8. Revoking emergency
  14. State- centre and interstate relations
    1. The basic idea about Articles 262 and 263
    2. Composition and functions of Interstate council and Zonal council
    3. Inter-State trade and Commerce
    4. Recent disputes between states, controversies etc
    5. New policies or schemes which impact interstate relations
  15. Panchayati Raj and municipalities
    1. Elections, auditing, powers and authority of panchayats
    2. 3 tier structure
    3. 73rd Amendment Act and the 74th Amendment Act
    4. Relation with FR and DPSP
    5. Schemes introduced
    6. Metropolitan planning committee and urban development
  16. Reservation
  17. Constitution Bodies
    1. Election Commission
    2. UPSC
    3. SPSC
    4. JPSC
    5. Finance Commission
    6. National Commission for SCs and ST’s,
    7. Composition, Powers and functions, Removal of the Constitutional bodies
  18. Non-Constitutional Bodies
    1. The basic idea about Composition, Functions, Working of the Non-Constitutional bodies such as National Human Rights Commission, Central Information Commission, Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, State Human Rights Commission, State Information Commission etc
  19. Tribunals
    1. The basic idea about Article 323A and tribunals under Article 323B
    2. Recent controversial issues related to tribunals
    3. Different tribunals and importance
  20. Special Provisions for SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians
    1. Privileges and right issued to SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians
    2. Issues related to vulnerable sections like women, child, SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians
  21. Current affairs
    1. Recent issues related to above-mentioned categories
    2. Important schemes, programs, missions, laws, and policies launched by the government.
    3. Recent Government Bills and Governance- Actions

Important links related to UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Polity:

  1. Polity preparation strategy for UPSC Prelims
  2. Indian Polity syllabus for UPSC Mains GS II

UPSC Prelims Syllabus – Indian Economy

The UPSC Syllabus for Prelims mentions the broad topic Economic and Social Development which includes Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc. While Indian Economy portion is common to the syllabus of UPSC Prelims and Mains, Economics is also an Optional Subject in the UPSC Mains.

For UPSC Prelims, the focus should be on current affairs related to the Indian Economy and basic concepts.

Economic and Social Development

  1. Economic growth and development – basic concept and definition of economy and economics, uses and transfer of resources, distributive effects, macro and micro economic policy, micro-macro balance, distributive impact of economic policies, development versus growth, determinant of growth and development, concepts such as HPI/MPI, HDI, PQLI, GEM, GDI/GII, TAI, Green index, sustainable development, India’s ranking in the various indices.
  2. Poverty – definitions, causes, distribution-deprivation, income versus calories, measurement of poverty, the status of poverty, eradication programmes, poverty and resource policy, tribal rights and issues, livelihood mission.
  3. Inclusion – definition, relevance, types, financial inclusion, recent initiatives.
  4. Demographics – census data, populations by gender, by state, by age group, socio-economic status, caste, religion, literacy levels, etc. Trends in human development – interstate comparison, etc.
  5. Fiscal policy – definition, component, receipts, revenue and capital account, tax revenue, expenditure, budget.

Important links related to UPSC Prelims syllabus for Indian Economy

  1. UPSC Mains optional Economics syllabus
  2. Analysis of Interim Budget 2019-20

UPSC Prelims Syllabus – General Science

In UPSC Prelims, candidates should not spent a lot of time preparing General Science from theory books as most questions come from topics/issues in the news. However, some focus areas as a broad reference are given below.

You can also get some tips for general science preparation for IAS here.

  1. Universe – Big Bang, Redshift, Blueshift
  2. Star Formation – Stellar Evolution, Life Cycle of A Star
  3. Solar System Formation – Nebular Theory of Laplace
  4. Solar System – Planets, Inner Planets, Outer Planets
  5. Sun – Internal Structure, Atmosphere
  6. Nuclear Fission, Nuclear Reactor Types
  7. India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme
  8. Cell Organelles – Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell
  9. Carbohydrates – Monosaccharides, Polysaccharides
  10. Proteins – Amino Acids, Enzymes
  11. Vitamins and Minerals – Deficiency Diseases
  12. Fats – Healthy Fats and Unhealthy Fats
  13. Animal Tissues – Epithelium, Connective Tissues
  14. Human Digestive System – Digestive Glands
  15. Respiratory System – NCERT General Science
  16. Endocrine Glands and Hormones
  17. Human Neural System – Human Brain
  18. Muscular and Skeletal System
  19. Nucleic acids – DNA and RNA, Recombinant DNA
  20. Mitosis – Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Meiosis – Mitosis – Meiosis Comparison
  21. Inheritance – Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, Chromosomal Theory, Human Genome Project
  22. Sex Determination – Genetic Disorders
  23. Diseases Caused by Microorganisms
  24. Microbes in Human Welfare – Useful Microbes
  25. Immunity – Human Immune System
  26. AIDS, Cancer – causes
  27. Drugs and Alcohol Abuse
  28. Diseases – Acute, Chronic, Communicable Diseases
  29. Blood – Blood Groups – Formed Elements
  30. Circulatory System, Double Circulation
  31. Excretory System – Kidney, Urine Formation
  32. Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth
  33. Biological Classification
  34. Five Kingdom Classifications of Plants and Animals
  35. Plant Parts and Their Functions
  36. Plant Kingdom – Halophytes, Bryophytes
  37. Plants with Seeds – Gymnosperms and Angiosperms
  38. Plant Tissue – Simple, Complex Permanent Tissue
  39. Plant Nutrition – Photosynthesis, Nitrogen Cycle, Fixation
  40. Sexual and Asexual Reproduction in Plants
  41. Classification of Animal Kingdom (Animalia)
  42. Classification of Vertebrata (Phylum Chordata)
  43. Human Reproductive System
  44. Biotechnology – Genetic Engineering – Processes and Applications
  45. Atomic Theory – Structure of an Atom

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