UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024, Optional Subjects, IAS Exam Pattern

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UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024

UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024: The UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024 is designed to assess candidates’ knowledge, aptitude, and analytical abilities through two main stages: The Preliminary Examination (Prelims) and The Main Examination (Mains), followed by an interview or personality test.


For the Prelims, candidates need to tackle two compulsory papers, namely General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test). These papers cover a wide range of subjects, including history, geography, economics, polity, environment, science, and current affairs.

Moving on to the Mains examination, the syllabus becomes more specialized. It consists of nine papers, including an essay paper, 4 General Studies papers, 2 optional subject papers, and two language papers, both of which are qualifying in nature. The Mains syllabus delves deeper into various topics, requiring a more in-depth understanding across different subjects such as essay writing, general studies, optional subjects, and language proficiency.

UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024: Overview

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the UPSC Civil Services Exam to select qualified candidates for various Grade-A posts in the government sector. To secure a prestigious job in the government, it’s essential to score well enough to meet the cut-off criteria. Achieving this, requires a thorough understanding of the UPSC Syllabus and Exam Pattern. By considering these aspects, candidates can better prepare for the exam and increase their chances of success in pursuing a coveted career in the government sector.

A quick overview of the UPSC CSE Syllabus and exam pattern: –

No. of PapersTwo Nine 
Types of QuestionsObjective TypeDescriptive Type
Duration of Exam2 hours each3 hours each 
Total Marks4001750
Medium of ExamEnglish & HindiEnglish & Hindi (except language paper)
Negative Marking ⅓rd markNo negative marking
Marks Counted in MeritNoYes

UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024: Preliminary

IAS Preliminary test is the initial phase of the UPSC CSE Selection Process, serving as the qualifying test for the subsequent stage, i.e., Mains. It is crucial for all UPSC Exam aspirants to acquaint themselves with the exam pattern and IAS Exam syllabus beforehand to kickstart their preparation. Understanding the syllabus is vital, as it forms the foundation for progressing through the examination stages.

UPSC CSE Prelims Exam Pattern

PaperSubjectsMarksNo. of QuestionDuration
IGeneral Studies (GS)2001002 hours
IICSAT200802 hours
  1. For every incorrect answer, 1/3 marks of the total mark will be deducted.
  2. For the blank answers, no marks will be deducted.
  3. In General Studies, each question will be of 2 marks and there will be a negative marking of 0.66 marks.
  4. In CSAT, each question will be of 2.5 marks and a negative marking of 0.833 marks for each wrong answer will be marked.
  5. The prelims marks will not be included in the final result. This stage is only for screening.
  6. Paper II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.

UPSC IAS Prelims Exam Syllabus

1. General Studies Paper-I

This paper will consist of 100 questions covering the mentioned topics, carrying a maximum of 200 marks with a time duration of 2 hours.

  • Current events of National & International importance.
  • History of India & Indian National Movement.
  • Indian & World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India & the World.
  • Indian Polity & Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic & Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity & climate change – that do not require subject specialization.
  • General Science.

2. General Studies Paper-II (CSAT)

This paper will consist of 80 questions covering the following topics, carrying a maximum of 200 marks with a time duration of 2 hours.

  • Comprehension.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning & analytical ability.
  • Decision making & problem solving.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic numeracy (numbers & their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level)

UPSC CSE Syllabus 2024: Mains

The Mains exam is the second phase of the Civil Services Examination. To take the IAS Mains, candidates must first pass the prelims exam. Mains assesses a candidate’s academic depth and their ability to express understanding within time limits. The UPSC Mains exam has 9 papers, two of which are qualifying papers carrying 300 marks each. Passing these qualifying papers is necessary to proceed in the selection process.

UPSC CSE Mains Exam Pattern

Qualifying paper

PaperSubject Maximum Marks
Paper- AOne of the Indian Language to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution300
Paper- BEnglish300

Structure of both the Language Papers: –

  1. Essay – 100 marks
  2. Reading comprehension – 60 marks
  3. Precis Writing – 60 marks
  4. Translation:
    • English to compulsory language (e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks
    • Compulsory language to English – 20 marks
  5. Grammar and basic language usage – 40 marks

The candidates have to select any language from the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution which is given in the table below: –

SindhiDevanagari or ArabicTeluguTelugu
SanthaliDevanagari or OlchikiDogriDevanagari

Paper counted for merit

PaperSubjectMaximum Marks
Paper-IIGeneral Studies-I (Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)250
Paper-IIIGeneral Studies-II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)250
Paper-IVGenera Studies-III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)250
Paper-VGeneral Studies-IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude)250
Paper-VIOptional Subject – Paper 1250
Paper-VIIOptional Subject – Paper 2250
  1. The papers on Indian languages and English (Paper A and paper B) will be of qualifying nature and the marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
  2. The papers on Essay, General Studies and Optional Subject of only such candidates will be taken considered who attain 25% marks in ‘Indian Language’ and 25% in ‘English’ as minimum qualifying standards in these qualifying papers.
  3. Marks obtained by the candidates for the Paper I-VII only will be counted for merit ranking.
  4. The question papers for the main examination will be of conventional (essay) type and each paper will be of 3 hour duration.
  5. Candidates will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A and Paper-B, in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India or in English.
  6. The question papers (other than the literature of language papers) will be set in Hindi and English only.
  7. Compensatory time of twenty minutes per hour shall be permitted for the Blind candidates and the candidates with locomotor disability and cerebral palsy where dominant (writing) extremity is affected to the extent of slowing the performance of function (minimum of 40% impairment) in both the Civil Services (Preliminary) as well as in the Civil Services (Main) Examination.

UPSC IAS Mains Exam Syllabus

1. Paper-I: Essay

Candidates might need to write essays on various topics. They are expected to stick closely to the essay’s subject, organize their ideas in a clear manner, and write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and precise expression in their writing.

1. Paper-II: General Studies-I

  • 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 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 & 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 waterbodies and icecaps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2. Paper-III: General Studies-II

  • 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.

3. Paper-IV: General Studies-III

  • 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.
  • 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, 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.

4. Paper-V: General Studies-IV

  • 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.

5. Paper-VI & VII: Optional Subject

For optional paper, A candidate can select any one from the following list; –

Optional PaperOptional Paper
AgricultureCivil Engineering
Animal Husbandry & Veterinary ScienceCommerce & Accountancy
BotanyElectrical Engineering
MathematicsMechanical Engineering
Medical SciencePhilosophy
Political Science & International RelationsPhysics
PsychologyPublic Administration

UPSC CSE Syllabus for IAS Interview

  • The UPSC Interview, also known as the Personality Test, is the last stage of the exam. Unlike other stages, there’s no fixed syllabus for the interview. Questions cover a wide range of topics.
  • Candidates passing the UPSC Mains Exam are called for the interview. The interview is conducted by a board appointed by the UPSC. Board consists of competent and unbiased observers who evaluate the candidate’s personal suitability for a civil services career.
  • The Interview is meant for a purposive conversation which aims to explore the candidate’s mental qualities and analytical ability.
  • The interview is worth 275 marks. Combined with the written exam (1750 marks), the total is 2025 marks.
  • Cumulative marks from the interview and written exam determine the final merit list.
Important LinksImportant Links
UPSC CSE 2024 Apply Online UPSC CSE 2024 Notification
UPSC CSE Eligibility CriteriaUPSC CSE Syllabus
UPSC CSE Exam PatternUPSC CSE Selection Process

UPSC CSE Syllabus FAQs

1. Is an attempt of UPSC CSE Prelims counted as an attempt?

An attempt of any paper in the Prelims Examination is counted as an attempt in the UPSC Civil Service Examination.

2. What is the language/medium of the question paper in UPSC CSE?

The question paper appears bilingual which means, Hindi and English.

3. UPCS CSE Exam is for how much marks?

The UPSC CSE Exam comprises total 2025 marks in which 1750 marks is for Written and 275 marks is for Interview.

4. Is there negative marking in both Prelims and Mains of UPSC CSE?

No, there is negative marking in only Prelims of UPSC CSE.


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