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UPSC Mains Syllabus

UPSC Mains Syllabus

UPSC Mains Syllabus has a vast coverage area. A written exam and an interview/personality test will comprise the Civil Services (Main) Examination. There will be nine conventional essay-style papers in the written examination. The Civil Services Examination consists of three subsequent stages:

  • The Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Objective Type), which is used to select applicants for the Civil Services Main Examination; and
  • The Civil Services (Main) Examination (Conventional Type Written Exam)
  • Interview/Personality Test, which is used to select candidates for the various Services and posts.

Read More: UPSC Syllabus

UPSC Mains Syllabus Overview

UPSC Mains Syllabus 2023
Name Mains Syllabus
Exam Date 15th to 19th September 2023
Number of Papers Nine
Types of Paper Conventional Papers (Descriptive Type)
Duration of Exam 3 hours Each Paper
Total Marks 1750
Language of Exam English & Hindi (Except Language Paper)
Negative Marking  No negative marking but Penality Marking for various mistakes done by candidates
Marks Counted in Merit Yes

Read More: UPSC Prelims Syllabus

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern 2023

Candidates who pass the preliminary exam will be able to take the main exam. Candidates must be qualified for each paper as this is the stage of the exam procedure where scores and rankings are determined. The Mains exam assesses a candidate’s academic knowledge as well as their capacity to effectively and within the allotted time articulate their understanding in accordance with the requirements of the question.

Candidates must obtain minimum passing marks in each of the nine papers that comprise the Mains exam. Language papers i.e., English and Indian Language papers are qualifying papers, and the remaining papers i.e., GS-I, GS-II, GS-III, GS-IV, Essay paper, Optional Paper 1 and Paper 2 will be graded.

UPSC Mains Exam Pattern
Qualifying Papers Marks
Paper-A One of the Indian languages listed in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule needs to be selected by the candidate. 300
Paper-B English 300
Papers Counted for Merit
Paper 1 Essay Paper 250
Paper 2 – General Studies I General Studies Paper I consists mainly of History and Geography of the World and Society, Indian Heritage and Culture. This paper mainly revolves around History, Geography and Society. 250
Paper 3 – General Studies II General Studies Paper II consists mainly of Polity, Constitution, Governance, Social Justice and International relations. 250
Paper 4 – General Studies  III General Studies Paper III consists mainly of Economic Development, Technology, Environment, Biodiversity, Security and Disaster Management. 250
Paper 5 – General Studies  IV General Studies Paper IV consists mainly of Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. 250
Paper 6 Optional Subject – Paper 1 250
Paper 7 Optional Subject – Paper 2 250
Sub Total (Written Test) 1750
Personality Test 275
Grand Total 2025

Some Important Facts about UPSC Mains Exam:

  • The main exam consists of two qualifying papers at 300 marks each, “Paper A” and “Paper B.”
  • Any Indian Language from the Eight Schedule” and “English Language Paper” are two qualifying papers for Mains Exam.
  • Candidates must obtain 25% on each of the two qualifying exams, or 75 marks on each paper.
  • Because the remaining seven papers are all scoring in nature, the final merit list will incorporate their scores.
  • Candidates may answer every question in either English or one of the eight scheduled languages in the 7 merit-based papers.
  • For Papers VI and VII, candidates must choose one subject from the list as their optional subject.

Read More: UPSC Syllabus in Hindi

UPSC IAS Mains Syllabus Subject-wise

Apart from the Indian Language and English Papers, other papers of the main examination are counted for merit. For detailed coverage of the UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus of General Studies and Essay papers, read the complete article.

UPSC Syllabus Mains Language Paper

There are two language papers i.e., Paper A and Paper B in UPSC Mains Exam. The candidates need to select one language from the list of languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which is shown in the table below. And English is the second language paper. Candidates must use the script that corresponds to the language listed in the table below. The candidate can choose any of the following Indian Languages from the given table.

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 Gurmukhi
Sanskrit Devanagari
Sindhi Devanagari or Arabic
Tamil Tamil
Telugu Telugu
Urdu Persian
Bodo Devanagari
Dogri Devanagari
Maithili Devanagari
Santhali Devanagari or Olchiki*
Note: The question paper for the Santhali language will be printed in Devanagari script, however, candidates are free to answer in Olchiki or Devanagari.

Below is a breakdown of how “Paper A” and “Paper B,” the language papers, are structured.

  • Essay – 100 marks
  • Reading Comprehension – 60 marks
  • Precis Writing – 60 marks
  • Translation: (i) English to Compulsory Language (for e.g. Hindi) – 20 marks and (ii) Compulsory Language to English – 20 marks
  • Grammar and Usage of Basic Language – 40 marks

UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies I

The History, Heritage, Geography, and Culture of the World and Society are the main topics of the first General Studies paper. The commission has outlined the essential themes of the General Studies I syllabus which is mentioned below for candidates.

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society:

  • Indian Culture: It covers the salient features of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient times to modern times.
  • Modern Indian History: It includes the significant events, personalities, and issues from the middle of the 18th century until the present.
  • In The Freedom Struggle, Various stages and important contributors and contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Consolidation and Reorganisation of the country after independence.
  • Events from the 18th century will be included in the history of the world, such as the industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national borders, colonisation, and decolonization, as well as political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, and others—their manifestations and social effects.
  • Important characteristics of Indian society and India’s diversity.
  • The role of women and the organisation of women, population and related issues, poverty and developmental challenges, urbanisation, related issues, and solutions.
  • The social effects of globalisation in India.
  • Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism, and Social Empowerment.
  • Important physical geography characteristics of the world.
  • Distribution of major natural resources worldwide (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); determinants of where primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries are located globally (including India).
  • Critical geographic features and their location-changes in flora and fauna, as well as in water bodies and ice caps and the impact of such changes. Important geophysical phenomena include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, cyclones, etc.

Read More: UPSC CSE 2023 Notification

UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies II

The Polity, Governance, Constitution, Social Justice, and Interrelations topics are covered in the UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies II paper. The detailed syllabus is provided to candidates below.

Governance, Polity, Constitution, Social Justice and International Relations:

  • The basic structures, features, modifications, major provisions, and historical context of the Indian Constitution.
  • Functions and duties of the Union and the States, problems and difficulties with the federal system, and obstacles with the devolution of authority and resources to local levels.
  • Power separation between multiple organs, conflict resolution procedures, and institutions.
  • Comparing the Indian constitutional design to other countries’ systems
  • Structure, administration, business practises, powers, and privileges of the Parliament and State Legislatures, as well as challenges resulting from these.
  • Governmental Ministries and Departments; Pressure Group organisations and formal/informal associations; and their purpose in the Polity.
  • Structure, organisation, and operation of the Executive and the Judiciary.
  • The Representation of People’s Act’s key characteristics.
  • Appointment to several constitutional Bodies, as well as their respective duties and responsibilities.
  • Statutory, regulatory, and various quasi-judicial agencies; Government interventions for development in many sectors; Problems resulting from the planning and execution of these interventions.
  • The role of NGOs, SHGs, diverse groups and associations, funders, charities, institutional, and other stakeholders in development processes and the development industry.
  • Welfare programmes put in place by the federal government and individual states for the population’s most vulnerable groups, as well as the effectiveness of these programmes; institutions, laws, and other organisations created to safeguard and improve the lives of these vulnerable groups.
  • Issues pertaining to the growth and administration of the social sector and services in the fields of health, education, and human resources.
  • Hunger and poverty-related issues.
  • Transparency and accountability are crucial components of governance, as are e-governance applications, models, accomplishments, limitations, and possibilities; citizens’ charters, transparency & accountability, and institutional and other measurements.
  • The function of the civil service in a democracy
  • India’s relationship with its neighbours.
  • Groupings and agreements at the bilateral, regional, and international levels involving or impacting India and/or its interests.
  • Effect of developed and developing countries policies and politics on India’s interests and the Indian diaspora.
  • Important international organisations, agencies, and forums: their makeup and objectives.

Read More: UPSC CSE 2023 Exam Pattern

UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies III

The subjects of Science, Technology, Economics, Defense, Disaster Management, and Nature are thoroughly covered in UPSC Mains General Studies III. This paper would raise ask relating to many facets of life as well as recent developments in all areas of life.

Economic Development, Technology, Environment, Bio-diversity, Security and Disaster Management:

  • Indian Economy, including planning, resource mobilisation, growth, development, and employment difficulties.
  • Inclusive growth and the problems it raises.
  • Budgeting of Government.
  • Major crops, patterns of cropping in various regions of the nation, various types of irrigation and irrigation systems, challenges with storage, transport, and marketing of agricultural products, and related limitations; the use of e-technology by farmers.
  • Concerns about buffer stocks and food security, direct and indirect farm subsidies, and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System goals, operations, and shortcomings; Technology missions; and the economics of animal husbandry.
  • Food processing and related sectors in India: their size and importance, where they are, what is needed in the upstream and downstream, and supply chain management.
  • Indian land reforms.
  • The economic implications of liberalisation, changes to industrial policy, and how these affect the expansion of the industrial sector.
  • Infrastructure includes things like ports, roads, airports, and railroads.
  • Models for investments.
  • Science and technology breakthroughs, as well as how they are used and impact daily life.
  • Scientific and technological advances made by Indians; indigenization of technology; and the creation of new technology.
  • Awareness of issues relating to intellectual property rights as well as IT, space, computers, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.
  • Environmental impact assessment, pollution and degradation of the environment, and conservation.
  • Disasters and disaster management; Relationships between extremism’s growth and dissemination.
  • The contribution of non-state and state actors from outside to the problems with domestic security.
  • Threats to internal security posed by communication networks, the media’s and social media’s role in such threats, the fundamentals of cyber security, and money laundering and its prevention.
  • Security issues and how to manage them in border regions – connections between organised crime and terrorism.
  • The function of various security agencies and organisations.

UPSC Mains Syllabus General Studies IV

Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude: This paper contains questions to assess the candidate’s attitude and approach toward matters relating to integrity, probity in public life, and their approach to problem-solving when dealing with a variety of challenges and disputes in society. In order to determine these elements and cover area, questions may use the case study approach.

  • Ethics and Human Interaction: The purpose, factors, and outcomes of ethical behaviour in people; the dimensions of ethics; and the application of ethics in both personal and professional settings. The importance of family community and educational institutions in instilling values may be seen in the study of human values, which draws lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators.
  • Moral and political attitudes, social influence, and persuasion are all aspects of attitude that include its content, structure, and function as well as its relationship to cognition and behaviour.
  • Civil service aptitude and core principles, including honesty, objectivity, and non-partisanship; dedication to public service; empathy; tolerance; and compassion for the weaker groups.
  • Emotional intelligence concepts, as well as their benefits and use in governance and administration.
  • Contributions from moral philosophers and thinkers in India and around the world.
  • Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration: Status and Issues; Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding; Corporate Governance; Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Conscience as Sources of Ethical Guidance. Accountability and Ethical Governance.
  • Probity in governance includes the idea of public service, the philosophical underpinnings of governance and probity, information sharing and transparency in government, the right to information, codes of ethics and conduct, citizen’s charters, workplace culture, the effectiveness of service delivery, the use of public resources, and challenges posed by corruption.
  • Case Studies on the aforementioned concerns

UPSC Optional Subjects

Paper 6 and Paper 7 of the UPSC Mains exam are Optional subject papers. Candidates may select any one of the optional subjects from the UPSC Optional Subjects List given below.

List of Optional Subjects for UPSC Mains Exam

Agriculture Law
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Management
Anthropology  Mathematics
Botany  Mechanical Engineering
Chemistry  Medical Science
Civil Engineering  Philosophy
Commerce and Accountancy  Physics
Economics  Political Science and International Relations (PSIR)
Electrical Engineering  Psychology
Geography Public Administration
Geology Sociology
History Statistics
Zoology Literature of any one of the following languages:

Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English.

UPSC Mains Syllabus PDF

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UPSC Mains Syllabus FAQs

Q. What is the Syllabus for Mains UPSC?

Ans. UPSC Mains has an exhaustive syllabus which includes two qualifying Language Papers, 4 General Studies Papers, 2 Optional Papers, and 1 Essay Paper.

Q. What are the 9 papers in UPSC mains?

Ans. 9 papers in the UPSC Mains exam are:

  • Indian Language Paper
  • English Paper
  • Essay Paper
  • General Studies I
  • General Studies II
  • General Studies III
  • General Studies IV
  • Optional Paper I
  • Optional Paper II

Q. How many total marks are in UPSC Mains?

Ans. There are 1750 total marks from the UPSC CSE mains written exam and 275 marks for the Personality Test or Interview. To determine the final merit list, both marks are clubbed together.

Q. What are the 7 papers of UPSC counted for Merit?

Ans. 7 papers of UPSC counted for Final Merit:

  • Paper‐1: (Essay) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐2: (General Studies I) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐3: (General Studies II) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐4: (General Studies III) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐5: (General Studies IV) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐6: (Optional Subject Paper I) – 250 Marks
  • Paper‐7: (Optional Subject Paper II) – 250 Marks

Q. How to download UPSC Mains Syllabus PDF?

Ans. The UPSC mains syllabus 2022 in PDF format is available to candidates on the UPSC website in the form of official notification.

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