UPSC Syllabus 2021 PDF - CSE Prelims & Mains

UPSC CSE (Civil Services Examination) which is considered as the toughest of all the exams in India is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission every year.

Students can download the exhaustive UPSC Syllabus 2021 PDF form the official website of UPSC, but it is hard to co-relate that syllabus with the reading material available with students.

The reality is that the questions in the UPSC exams can come from a wide array of topics and literally cover everything under the sun to test the candidate’s knowledge and ability to comprehend the same for solving societal issues.

UPSC Syllabus 2021 PDF

In this blog, we have tried to provide a detailed overview of the UPSC Syllabus 2021 issued in the PDF format by UPSC along with a list of suggested topics reading which will cover that respective portion of the syllabus. It is also worth noting that the syllabus has more or less remained the same since the change of pattern in 2011.

The UPSC CSE toppers of previous years have stressed the importance of deeply understanding the UPSC syllabus and considered this as a prerequisite for clearing the exam with flying colours. This is true as the knowledge of the syllabus will enable the aspirants to draw a line between the facts that are relevant and irrelevant from the examination point of view. In fact, a very good interpretation of the syllabus and previous year’s questions can help a student to study the right and relevant topics which are crucial and need to be given utmost importance.

The UPSC Civil services examination has 3 stages:

(i) Preliminary Examination (Objective type questions for the selection of candidates for the Mains Exam)

(ii) Mains Examination (Subjective/Written Test for the selection of candidates for the interview round)

(iii) Personality Test (Final Personal Interview for recruitment)

For a candidate to ace the examination, there is a need to have a deeper look into the UPSC syllabus, and comprehend the same as all the three stages of the exam have a syllabus that is more or less interlinked with each other.

UPSC IAS Prelims Exam 2021 - Syllabus

UPSC preliminary exam (A.K.A. Prelims Exam) is the screening test of the UPSC Civil services Examination which tests the logical, analytical and reasoning skills of the candidates.

Moreover, the UPSC CSE prelims exam is further divided into two segments:

(i) General Studies Paper-I (General studies objective questions)

(ii) General Studies Paper-II (CSAT - Qualifying paper)

The prelims exam is conducted on a single day with paper-1 in the morning session and paper-2 in the afternoon session. Both the papers have a well-defined time limit of 2 hours.

Sl. No. Subjects / Modules Topics


Ancient History

  • Prehistoric Cultures in India
  • Pastoral and Farming Communities 
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Vedic Society
  • Pre Mauryan Period
  • The Mauryan Empire
  • Post-Mauryan India (sc 200-AD 300)
  • Growth of Jainism and Buddhism
  • Imperial Guptas
  • Harshavardhana
  • The Southern Dynasties


Medieval History

  • Central Asian Politics and the Advance of Babur towards India
  • Struggle for Empire in North- India (Afghans, Rajputs, and Mughals)
  • Struggle for Empire in North India
  • The Establishment of the North Indian Empire
  • Consolidation and Expansion of the Empire - Akbar
  • State and Government under Akbar
  • Akbar’s Religious Views
  • The Deccan and the Mughals (Upto 1657)
  • Foreign Policy of the Mughals
  • India in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century
  • Aurangzeb - Religious Policies, North India and the Rajputs
  • Climax and Crisis of the Mughal Empire the Marathas and the Deccan
  •  Society-Structure and Growth
  •  Economic Life-Patterns and Prospects
  • Religion, Fine Arts, Science and Technology 
  • Northern India in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century
  • The Maratha Bid for Supremacy


Modern History

  • Scenario before 1857
  • Revolt of 1857
  • The struggle for Swaraj
  • Intimation of freedom
  • Towards achievement of freedom
  • Partition of India
  • During the freedom struggle


Post-Independence India

  • Reorganization of states
  • Linguistic Regionalism in India
  • Tribal Issue and Policy Consolidation
  • Issue of Women and Evolution of Women Movement
  • Problem of Caste and Social Consolidation
  • Communalism & Social Consolidation
  • Issue of Linguistic Minorities
  • Overview of Economic Development Since Independence
  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • New Economic Policy
  • Post-Independence Policy of Science and Technology



Physical Geography

  • Geomorphology
  • Climatology
  • Oceanography
  • Water Resource
  • Biogeography


Human Geography

  • Demography
  • Urbanization
  • Census


Economic Geography

  • Agriculture
  • Mineral Resource
  • Energy Resources
  • Industry


Recent Developments

  • Recent developments in Transport Sector
  • Recent Developments in industrial Sector
  • Recent development in agriculture field
  • Places in News


Indian Polity

  • Historical Evolution & Features
  • Preamble
  • Citizenship
  • Fundamental Right
  • DPSP
  • Fundamental Duties
  • Other Principles
  • Separation of Powers
  • Comparison of the Indian constitution scheme with that of other countries
  • Union & States
  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
  • The President
  • Vice President
  • Prime Minister
  • Council of Ministers
  • Attorney General of India
  • Parliament
  • The Union Judiciary
  • Ministries and Departments of the Government
  • Panchayats
  • Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
  • Comptroller and Auditor-General of India
  • The Governor
  • Chief Minister
  • The Advocate-General for the state
  • State legislature



  • Need and importance of Government policies
  • Effective Implementation
  • Government intervention
  • Development process and industry
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability
  • e-Governance
  • Citizens Charters
  •  Role of civil services in a democracy
  • Pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
  • Elections in India
  • Political Parties in India
  • Role of Pressure Groups


Recent Developments

  • Bills
  • Union & State Government
  • Judiciary
  • Local government
  • Elections
  • Organisations/Bodies
  • Initiatives for Transparency & Accountability
  • Scheme
  • Reports & Policies
  • Miscellaneous


Basic Economy

  • Indian Economy and Issues Relating to Planning
  • Resource Mobilization
  • Inclusive Growth and Issues Arising from it
  • Government budgeting
  • Investment Models
  • Fiscal policy
  • Taxation
  • Financial System
  • Banking
  • Foreign Trade & International Organisations



  • Role of Agriculture in Indian Economy
  • Land Resource
  • Land Reforms
  • Agriculture Finance
  • Agricultural Credit Institutions
  • Crop Insurance in India
  • Agriculture Marketing
  • Subsidies
  • Agricultural Revolutions in India
  • Food Processing



  • Industrial Policy and Industrial Development: Main Issues
  • Main features of Industrial development in India



  • Means of Transport
  • Operating Costs in Transport
  • Government’s Transport Policy
  • Oceanic Transport Routes
  • Inland Waterways
  • Railways
  • Air Transport
  • Pipeline Transport
  • Transport and Trade in Modern Era
  • Negative Externalities of Transport
  • Important Issues on Transport


Recent Developments

  • Finance
  • Banking
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Infrastructure
  • External Sector
  • Committees
  • Miscellaneous


Ecology and Biodiversity

  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem and its Dynamics
  • Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Biomes: Forest, Grassland, Mountain, and Desert Ecosystems
  • Aquatic life Zones: Ocean, Rivers, Lakes, and Wetlands
  • Biodiversity Basics
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Effect of Human Activities on Environment
  • Water Resource Degradation
  • Minerals & Environmental Degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Waste Management
  • Sustainable Development
  • Environment Pollution
  • Solid Waste Management
  • Coastal Ecosystem Management
  • Recent Developments
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Environmental laws
  • Environment Related Institutions Organisations
  • Schemes
  • International Environmental Governance
  • Basics of Climate Change
  • Urbanization and Climate
  • Impact of Agriculture on Climate
  • Global Warming & Health


Recent Developments

  • Wildlife
  • Combating pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Renewable Energy
  • Initiatives for Environmental Conservation
  • Environmental Institutions
  • Miscellaneous Issues



  • Chemical Building Blocks of Life
  • History and Original of Life
  • Cells
  • Genetics
  • Classification of Living Things
  • Evolution
  • Tissues
  • Economic Zoology
  • Endocrine System
  • Respiration
  • The Transport System in Organisms
  • Skeletal and Muscular Systems
  • Reproduction
  • Excretion, Osmoregulation and Thermoregulation
  • Nutrition



  • Genetics and biotechnology
  • Biological fuel generation
  • Environmental Biotechnology
  • Plant and Forest Biotechnology
  • Animal and Insect Biotechnology
  • Food and beverage biotechnology
  • Protection of biotechnological inventions
  • Recent initiatives in Health & Biotechnology



  • Institutions & Policy
  • Space
  • Defence
  • Nuclear Energy
  • IT, Electronics & Telecom
  • Recent Developments in IT & Telecom
  • Nano-Science and Nano-technologies
  • Robotics


Current Affairs

Current Affairs with all Dimensions

If you are interested in learning about the type of questions asked in UPSC Prelims Exams, it’s a good idea to review the UPSC previous Year question papers

UPSC IAS Mains Exam 2021 - Syllabus

IAS Main Exam has four general studies papers, two compulsory language papers, one essay paper, and two papers of optional subject. It is a descriptive type of exam and it can be said that it has a much broader scope than that of IAS Prelims Syllabus.

Sl. No. Paper / Subjects Topics


Indian Society

  • Salient Features of Indian Society
  • Diversity of India
  • Role of Women’s organisation
  • Poverty and development issues
  • Population and associated issues
  • Urbanisation, their problems and remedies
  • Effects of globalisation on Indian Society
  • Social Empowerment
  • Communalism
  • Secularism
  • Regionalism


World History

  • Indian Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Nationalism in Europe
  • Colonialism and Imperialism
  • Emergence of USA
  • World War-I
  • Russian Revolution
  • Inter-War Years (1919-1939)
  • World War-II
  • Development in Middle East
  • Cold War
  • Post Cold War World



  • Salient Features of World’s physical geography
  • Distribution of key natural resources across the world
  • Factors responsible for the location of industries in various parts of the world
  • Important Geophysical phenomena
  • Geographical Features and their location
  • Changes in critical geographical features


Post-independence consolidation

  • Reorganisation of states
  • Issues related to vulnerable section
  • Overview of economic development since independence


Indian Culture

  • Paleolithic Art
  • Art & Culture during Indus valley Civilization
  • Religion and Indian Philosophy
  • Architecture and sculpture since Mauryan age
  • Indian Paintings
  • Classical forms of dance
  • Folk dance forms
  • Classical Music
  • Musical Instruments
  • Drama/Theatre
  • Pupper forms of India
  • Indian Pottery
  • Indian Literature
  • Government Institutes related to art  and culture
  • Culture and social change


Modern History

  • British Conquest of India
  • British Administration
  • Early resistance to British rule
  • Nationalism in India
  • Indian Freedom struggle under Gandhi
  • Social Reforms in British India
  • Struggle by the Masses
  • Partition of India



  • Indian Constitution
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the states
  • Federal Structure Issues
  • 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 
  • Executive & Judiciary Ministries
  • Ministries and Departments of the govt.
  • Pressure groups
  • Appointment of various constitutional posts
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial body
  • Applied Topics



  • Govt. policies and implementation
  • Development process and industry
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable section
  • Issues related to development and management of social sector/services relating to health, Education, Human Resources
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
  • E-governance
  • Citizens Charter
  • Role of Civil Services in a democracy


International Relations

  • India’s foreign policy
  • Post 1990 Scenario
  • Global Issues
  • Key Debates
  • South Asia
  • Central Asia
  • West Asia
  • Asia- Pacific
  • India & Africa
  • India & Europe
  • India-US & China
  • Indian Ocean
  • Indian Diaspora



  • Role of Agriculture in Indian Economy
  • Land Resource
  • Land Reforms
  • Agriculture Finance
  • Agricultural Credit Institutions
  • Crop Insurance in India
  • Agriculture Marketing
  • Subsidies
  • Agriculture revolutions in India
  • Food processing


Indian Economy

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning
  • Resource Mobilization
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
  • Government Budgeting
  • Industrial Policy and Industrial development
  • Infrastructure
  • Investment Models


Science and Technology

  • Institutional Structure for Science Development
  • S & T Policy after independence - 2003, 2013
  • Nanotechnology
  • IT
  • Space
  • Electronics
  • Defence
  • Energy
  • Nuclear technology
  • Telecommunication
  • Science and technology application and effects in everyday life
  • Science and inclusive growth
  • Science and economic development
  • Science and governance
  • Innovation: Need of the hour
  • Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology



  • Basic concepts
  • Biodiversity
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Water resource degradation
  • Climate change and environment
  • Environment and urbanisation
  • Mining and environment
  • Agriculture and environment
  • Renewable Energy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Concept of Sustainable Development


Internal Security

  • Linkage between development and spread of extremism
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenge to internal security
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of terrorism and organised crime
  • Various security forces and agencies and their mandate


Ethics and Human Interface

  • Essence
  • determinants and consequences of Ethics in human action
  • dimensions of ethics
  • ethics in private and public relationships


Human values

  • Human Values & Socialization
  • Individual Personality and Values
  • Values and Skill
  • Fundamental and Instrumental Values
  • Democratic values
  • Role of Ethical values in governance and society
  • Significance of values in civil services
  • Aesthetic values
  • Values in work life and professional ethics


Aptitude and Foundational Values of civil Services

  • Essential Aptitude for civil servants
  • Foundational Values of Civil Services
  • Civil Services Accountability
  • Neutrality, Anonymity, Integrity , Humility , Adaptability , Magnanimity , Perseverance
  • Impartiality and Non-Partisanship
  • Tolerance and compassion for the Weaker section
  • Contribution to society by Civil Services



  • Components of Attitude: Affective, Cognitive, Behavioral component
  • Functions of Attitude: Adjustive, Ego-Defensive, Value-Expressive , Knowledge Function
  • Attitude Formation Model
  • Impact of Beliefs and Values on Attitude
  • Group Influences
  • Social Influence
  • Persuasion Tactics and Tools of Persuasion
  • Moral Attitude formation
  • Political Attitude formation


Emotional Intelligence

  • Concept of Emotional Intelligence Models of emotional intelligence
  • Peter Salovey and John Mayer
  • Reuven Bar-on Model
  • Goleman’s model
  • Utilities of Emotional Intelligence
  • Main Components of emotional intelligence
  • Importance of emotional intelligence in bureaucracy
  • Relevance of Emotional intelligence in Civil Services
  • Critiques of emotional intelligence


Values and ethics in public Administration

  • Values & Ethics in Public Administration
  • Ethical Concerns in Public Institution
  • Ethical Concerns in Private Institutions
  • Ethical Dilemmas in Public and Private Institutions
  • Laws, Rules and Regulations as Source of Ethical Guidance
  • Accountability and Ethical Governance Strengthening of Ethical and Moral Values in Governance
  • Moral Judgments in International Relations Ethical Relation in Funding
  • International Relations and concept of Moral Responsibility
  • Ethics in working of international organizations
  • What is Corporate Governance?
  • Models of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Steps taken by World Bank for Good Corporate Governance
  • Norms for Corporate Government in India
  • Concept of business ethics   


Probity in Governance

  • Concept of Public Service
  • Philosophical basis of Governance and Probity
  • Information Sharing, Transparency and  Right to Information
  • Flaws in RTI and recommendations for improvement
  • Importance of vigilant citizens
  • Information sharing and participation Importance of Code of ethics
  • Code of Ethics in Professions
  • Code of Conduct for Ministers; for Legislators; for Civil Servants; for Regulators and for the Judiciary
  • Components of a Citizen Charter
  • Steps in formulation of a Citizen’s Charter … Concept of Work Culture
  • The Indian Approach to Work
  • Methods of improving Work Culture
  • Quality of Service Delivery
  • Utilisation of Public Funds
  • Problems in Fund Release and Utilization Parliamentary Control on Expenditure
  • Corruption in India: extent, dimension, and response
  • Corruption as a social evil
  • Probity in public life Corrupt practice among civil servants and official misconduct
  • Exposing corruption: Civil Society initiatives and role of Whistleblower Act
  • Tackling corruption: Role of government and institutions of governance
  • Controlling corruption: Various approaches and efficacy


Leaders, Reformers & Administrators, Contribution of Thinkers

  • Indian Thinkers
  • Administrative thinkers
  • World Thinkers
  • Indian & World Leaders


Applied Ethics

  • Euthanasia Issue
  • Surrogacy
  • Ethics & Sports
  • Media Ethics
  • Business Ethics
  • Ethics Related to Economic Sanctions
  • Refugees & Ethics
  • Ethical Dilemmas of Globalization
  • Ethics of War
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Ethical Issues in biotechnology
  • Animal Ethics
  • Food Adulteration and ethics
  • Abortion: Ethical or Unethical
  • Marital Rape
  • Child Labour
  • Ethical Issues involved in Juvenile Justice System


Contemporary topics

All contemporary and current topics



Local Language

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


English Language

  • Comprehension of given passages
  • Précis Writing
  • Usage and Vocabulary
  • Short Essays

List of local Languages For UPSC Mains Exam 2021:

  1.  Assamese, 
  2. Bengali, 
  3. Bodo, 
  4. Dogri, 
  5. Gujarati, 
  6. Hindi, 
  7. Kannada, 
  8. Kashmiri, 
  9. Konkani, 
  10. Maithili, 
  11. Malayalam,
  12.  Marathi, 
  13. Manipuri, 
  14. Oriya, 
  15. Punjabi, 
  16. Sanskrit, 
  17. Santhali, 
  18. Sindhi, 
  19. Tamil, 
  20. Telugu, 
  21. Urdu, 
  22. English.


List of Optional Subjects For UPSC Mains Exam 2021:

  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

UPSC IAS Interview 2021 Syllabus

The UPSC personality test is taken to judge the overall persona of the candidate. The interview board looks for honesty, integrity, confidence, intelligence, understanding of various topics and presence of mind.

To be precise, there is no fixed syllabus for the interview and anything and everything can come up in the interview. The candidates need to focus on their basic understanding of the concepts learnt as part of their prepration and their application in practical situations. Apart from this they must be well aware of the important international and national events.

All the relevant information about this much-coveted exam along with the syllabus is available in the notification issued by UPSC in the PDF format, which can be downloaded from here.

We hope this blog was helpful for all the potential aspirants out there. The candidates are recommended to use our virtual study rooms platform to maximise their productivity and consistency.

UPSC Syallabus 2021 pdf solving online on StudyGang

Those who don’t know about us, StudyGang is a free virtual reading room which is an alternative to physical libraries with an inbuilt Pomodoro timer. The platform gives you an opportunity to track your daily study hours and connect with other aspirants across India. The best thing about our website is that it uses the power of social accountability to improve the user's productivity.

Image Description
Compiled by

Avinash Tripathi

Founder & Chief Productivity Engineer at StudyGang. Making a dent in the universe, one user at a time.