UPSC CSE Syllabus

UPSC conducts Civil Services Examination (CSE) for the selection of candidates for the various Services and posts.

Exam Stages

The Civil Services Examination comprises two successive stages:

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination:
    • Objective Type paper
    • For the selection of candidates for the Civil Services (Main) Examination
  2. Civil Services (Main) Examination:
    a. Written Exams
    b. Interview/Personality Test


The Examination shall comprise of two compulsory Papers of 200 marks each.

  • Both the question papers will be of the objective type (multiple choice questions) and
    each will be of two hours duration.
  • The General Studies Paper-II of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination will be a
    qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33%.
  • The question papers will be set both in Hindi and English.

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
  • 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

  • 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. ā€” Class X level);


The Main Examination is intended to assess the overall intellectual traits and depth of
understanding of candidates rather than merely the range of their information and memory.

The Written Examination will consist of the following papers:

Qualifying Papers:


One of the Indian languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth.
Schedule to the Constitution - 300 Marks

For the Language medium/literature of languages, the scripts to be used by the
candidates will be as under:

Language Script
Assamese Assamese
Bengali Bengali
Gujarati Gujarati
Hindi Devanagari
Kannada Kannada
Kashmiri Persian
Konkani Devanagari
Malayalam Malayalam
Manipuri Bengali
Marathi Devanagari
Nepali Devanagari
Odia Odia
Punjabi Gurumukhi
Sanskrit Devanagari
Sindhi Devanagari or Arabic
Tamil Tamil
Telugu Telugu
Urdu Persian
Bodo Devanagari
Dogri Devanagari
Maithilli Devanagari
Santhali Devanagari or Olchiki

The pattern of questions would be broad as follows :

  1. Comprehension of given passages.
  2. Precis Writing.
  3. Usage and Vocabulary.
  4. Short Essays.
  5. Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.


English - 300 Marks

The pattern of questions would be broad as follows :

  1. Comprehension of given passages.
  2. Precis Writing.
  3. Usage and Vocabulary.
  4. Short Essays.

Papers to be counted for Merit

Paperā€I 250 Marks


Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to
keep close to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in an orderly fashion and to write
concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.

Paperā€II 250 Marks

General Studiesā€I: Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from
    ancient to modern times.
  2. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the presentsignificant events, personalities, issues.
  3. The Freedom Struggle ā€” its various stages and important contributors/contributions from
    different parts of the country.
  4. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  5. 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.ā€” their forms and effect on the society.
  6. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  7. Role of women and womenā€™s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and
    developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
  8. Effects of globalization on Indian society.
  9. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
  10. Salient features of worldā€™s physical geography.
  11. 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).
  12. 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.

Paperā€III 250 Marks

General Studies ā€ II Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International

  1. Indian Constitution historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant
    provisions and basic structure.
  2. 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
  3. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  4. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  5. Parliament and State legislaturesā€”structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers &
    privileges and issues arising out of these.
  6. Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciaryā€”Ministries and
    Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their
    role in the Polity.
  7. Salient features of the Representation of Peopleā€™s Act.
  8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of
    various Constitutional Bodies.
  9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  10. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising
    out of their design and implementation.
  11. Development processes and the development industry ā€”the role of NGOs, SHGs, various
    groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  12. 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.
  13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
    Education, Human Resources.
  14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governanceapplications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency &
    accountability and institutional and other measures.
  16. Role of civil services in a democracy.
  17. India and its neighborhood- relations.
  18. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting Indiaā€™s interests.
  19. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on Indiaā€™s interests,
    Indian diaspora.
  20. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Paperā€IV 250 Marks

General Studiesā€III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment,
Security and Disaster Management

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth,
    development and employment.
  2. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  3. Government Budgeting.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Food processing and related industries in India- scopeā€™ and significance, location, upstream
    and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  7. Land reforms in India.
  8. Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on
    industrial growth.
  9. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  10. Investment models.
  11. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  12. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and
    developing new technology.
  13. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology
    and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  14. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  15. Disaster and disaster management.
  16. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  17. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  18. 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.
  19. Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with
  20. Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Paperā€V 250 Marks

General Studiesā€ IV: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

  1. This paper will include questions to test the candidatesā€™ 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 utilise the case study
    approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered :
  2. 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.
  3. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour;
    moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  4. 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.
  5. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and
  6. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
  7. 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.
  8. 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, Citizenā€™s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery,
    Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
  9. Case Studies on the above issues.

Optional Paper 1 and Paper 2 (250 Marks each)

List of optional subjects for Main Examination:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Anthropology
  4. Botany
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Commerce and Accountancy
  8. Economics
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Geography
  11. Geology
  12. History
  13. Law
  14. Management
  15. Mathematics
  16. Mechanical Engineering
  17. Medical Science
  18. Philosophy
  19. Physics
  20. Political Science and International Relations
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Sociology
  24. Statistics
  25. Zoology
  26. Literature of any one of the following languages:
    Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili,
    Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu
    and English.

Mains Exam Pattern and Language

  1. The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.
  2. Each paper will be of three hours duration.
  3. 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. Notwithstanding this, the Candidate
    will have the choice to write the Optional Papers in English also if candidates opt to write
    Paper I-V except the Qualifying Language Papers, Paper-A, and Paper-B, in any one of the
    language included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Interview/Personality Test

The candidate will be interviewed by a Board that will have before them a record of the
candidateā€™s career.

  • The object of the Interview/Personality Test is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a
    career in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers. The
  • Test is intended to judge the mental caliber of a candidate.
  • In broad terms, this is really an assessment of not only intellectual qualities but also social traits and interest in current affairs.
  • Some of the qualities to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgment, variety, and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
  • Test is not that of a strict cross-examination but of a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate.
  • Test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers.

Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their
special subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both
within and outside their own State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in new
discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth

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See the UPSC CSE notifications document for further details.

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