UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 - Download Civil Services Syllabus in PDF

UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 - UPSC syllabus has been released along with the official notification for the Civil Service Exam on February 12, 2020. The UPSC syllabus for both prelims and mains exams are available in pdf format. The Civil Services Examination is considered as one of the most prestigious examinations conducted in India. The exam is conducted every year to recruit various candidates under the administrative departments of India. 

To understand the highly competitive UPSC exam, candidates must understand the UPSC syllabus in depth. Understanding the IAS syllabus will eliminate all the wasteful efforts and keeps you aligned to the expectations of the UPSC from the first day of your preparation. The UPSC Prelims paper is completely objective while the Mains syllabus is quite vast as this stage comprises nine theory papers.

The UPSC Civil services exam is comprised of three phases:

  1. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 
  2. Civil Services (Mains) Examination 
  3. Personal Interview (Personality Test)
Latest Update - Union Public Service Commission has released the final result of UPSC 2019 examination on August 4, 2020. Candidates can check their result here.

UPSC Preliminary Exam



Total Marks



General Studies (GS)


2 hours




2 hours

Broadly, the Civil Services Preliminary Examination consists of two papers of objective type, each of 200 marks of two hours duration. To qualify for the mains exam, a candidate must attempt both the papers.

General Studies (GS) paper of UPSC consists of 100 questions and CSAT paper consists of 80 questions. There is negative marking of ⅓ for each wrong answers

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UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 - Prelims and Mains

UPSC IAS Prelims Syllabus 2020 for Paper 1 - General Studies

In IAS Prelims GS Paper 1 most of the questions are asked by UPSC to test the conceptual clarity and understanding of the basics of IAS Prelims syllabus topics. There will be some 25 to 35 questions from current affairs section.

The IAS Prelims GS Paper 1 marks are counted for cut off marks to qualify for the IAS Mains exam. Each question carries 1 mark. For every wrong answer, 1/3rd marks will be deducted as negative marking.

IAS Prelims GS Paper 1 Syllabus topics are mentioned below:

History of India and Indian National Movement

Economic and Social Development, Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives etc.

Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World

General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change that do not require subject specialization

Indian Polity and Governance Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues etc.

Current events of national and international importance

General Science

Download UPSC Prelims Syllabus PDF

UPSC IAS Prelims Syllabus 2020 for Paper 2 - CSAT

IAS Prelims GS Paper 2, popularly called as Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) exam is to test candidate’s reasoning and aptitude ability. Most of the questions are simple numerical maths, reasoning, and reading comprehension questions.

CSAT paper marks are not included in the IAS prelims exam cut off consideration, this paper is qualifying in nature. Candidates need to get to 66.67 marks out of 200 marks to qualify IAS Prelims GS Paper 2 in UPSC Prelims exam.

IAS Prelims GS Paper 2 (CSAT) Syllabus topics are mentioned below:


Decision-making and problem-solving

Interpersonal skills including communication skills

General mental ability

Logical reasoning and analytical 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) 

UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 - Mains

UPSC IAS mains exam test the candidate’s understanding ability on the issues and events that are happening at national and international levels. Most of the questions demand the candidate’s analytical ability along with writing skills. 

IAS Mains exam is all about writing the answers to address the demand of the question in a well-structured manner. 

For IAS mains exam, UPSC shortlisted candidates based on IAS Prelims exam performance. Every year roughly 12 to 15 thousand candidates appear for the IAS Mains exam. Roughly this is 12 to 13 times the number of vacancies.

The mains qualified candidates will face the final phase of the UPSC civil services exam, i.e, IAS interview round to get the services listed in the civil services exam.

IAS Mains Syllabus topics and pattern are mentioned below: 

Download UPSC Mains General Studies Syllabus PDF


UPSC Exam Pattern



Indian Language - UPSC Syllabus. One of the Indian Languages to be selected by the candidate from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This paper will not be compulsory for candidates hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim

300 (25% for Qualifying)


English Language

300 (25% for Qualifying)


Essay - UPSC Syllabus, can be taken in the language of choice. Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to stick to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.



General Studies-I - UPSC IAS Syllabus Topics - Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society



General Studies-II - UPSC IAS Syllabus Topics - Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations



General Studies-III - UPSC IAS Syllabus Topics - Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management



General Studies-IV - UPSC IAS Syllabus Topics - Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude



Optional - Paper 1



Optional - Paper 2


Note: Download PDF - UPSC IAS General Studies Syllabus

UPSC IAS Mains 2020 GS Paper 1 Syllabus Topics 



Indian Heritage and Culture

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Modern Indian History

  • 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.

World History

  • 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.

Indian 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 sec- tor 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 ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

UPSC IAS Mains 2020 GS Paper 2 Syllabus Topics



Indian Polity and Constitution

  • 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 disputes 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.

Social Justice

  • 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 or 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.

International Relations

  • 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.

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UPSC IAS Mains 2020 GS Paper 3 Syllabus Topics



Indian Economy

  • 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

  • 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, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Disaster Management

  • 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, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; 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.

UPSC IAS Mains 2020 GS Paper 4 Syllabus Topics 



Ethics and Human Interface

  • 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; the role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.


  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; 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

  • Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.

Civil Services Values and Probity in Governance

  • 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 the above issues.

UPSC IAS Mains Syllabus 2020 - Optional Subject 

In UPSC IAS mains exam candidates need to choose one optional subject from the list of 48 subjects. Each optional subject has 2 papers, 250 marks for each paper. So the optional subject weightage in the UPSC IAS Mains exam is 500 marks.

Candidates need to choose optional subjects wisely to secure good marks in the IAS mains exam since the optional subject plays a major role in qualifying the mains exam. (Read More: How to Best Choose Optional Subject for IAS Exam)

UPSC IAS Mains Optional Subjects Syllabus List


UPSC IAS Mains Literature Optional Subjects Syllabus List

 UPSC IAS Interview Syllabus (Personality Test)

The candidates who successfully qualify the UPSC Mains 2020 Exam are called for the final phase of the process, i.e. Personality Test (Interview) carrying 275 marks. The test is conducted by a board of competent evaluators who check how suitable the candidate is for the job. 

  1. The candidate will be interviewed by a board who will have before them a record of his/her career and interests filled by him/her in the Detailed Application Form (DAF).
  2. The test is intended to determine the suitability of the candidate by judging his/her mental caliber, reasoning ability, and moral integrity.
  3. In the personality test, apart from their academic study, candidates must be aware of the affairs happening both within and outside their state or country.

The final merit list is issued on the basis of the cumulative marks scored by the candidates in the Mains and Personality Test. The merit list is published on the UPSC website as well as in the leading newspapers.

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Recommended book list for UPSC 2020 Preparation

The following books are extremely important for the UPSC Civil Service exam preparation, recommended by IAS toppers and teachers:

Books List for IAS Exam Preparation 2020

In UPSC Civil Services exam candidates need to stick to standard preparation books and read these books as many times as possible instead of reading the same subject from multiple books.

The important books for IAS Exam preparation are listed below:


Must Read (NCERT)

Primary Material

Reference Material


OLD NCERTs: Ancient India RS Sharma Medieval India Sathish Chandra Modern India Bipan Chandra

New NCERTs: 9th to 12th Standard New NCERTs Themes in Indian History

Brief History of Modern India (Spectrum) 


Geography NCERTs 6th to 12th Contemporary India (9th and 10th standard) Fundamentals of Physical Geography

(11th Standard) India Physical environment (11th Standard) Fundamentals of Human Geography (12th Standard) India People and Economy (12th Standard)

Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong

School Atlas - Oxford or Orient BlackSwan School Atlas

Indian Polity

Political Science NCERTs (11th and 12th Standard) Indian Constitution at Work Politics in India Since Independence

Indian Polity - Laxmikanth


Science NCERTs (6th to 12th Standard)

Hindu Newspaper Science and Tech Weekly Column (Sunday)

Indian Economy

Economy 11th and 12th NCERTs Micro and Macroeconomics Indian Economic Development

Indian Economy - Ramesh Singh

Art and Culture

Art and Culture NCERTs (11th Standard) Introduction to Indian Art

Indian Art and Culture By Nitin Singhania


Science Biology 12th Standard NCERT (Last four Chapters 13 to 16)

Shankar IAS Environment Material (Act, Policies and Convention)

IGNOU Environment notes.

Current Affairs

The Hindu or Indian Express

Live Mint, Economic Times, Business Standard



Kurukshetra Frontline Economic and Political Weekly

Year Book

India Year Book - PIB Publication

FAQs related to UPSC Syllabus and IAS Exam Preparation

Q. What is the syllabus for UPSC prelims exam?

The syllabus for the prelims exam provided by UPSC is not comprehensive, it provides the broad topics of the subjects. To know more about UPSC Prelims Syllabus check here.

Q. What is the syllabus of the UPSC General Studies Mains exam?

A. In the IAS mains exam, there are four general studies papers. 

GS Paper 1 deals with History, Geography, Society; 

GS Paper 2 covers Polity, Governance, International Relations, and Social Justice topics;

GS paper 3 topics include Economy, Science and Tech, Environment, Security and Disaster Management; 

GS paper 4 is ethics, integrity, and aptitude. 

Check out the detailed UPSC Mains GS Syllabus here

Q. Where can I find the syllabus of UPSC Mains Optional Subjects?

A. In UPSC mains, there is a total of 25 major subjects and 23 literature subjects. The detailed Syllabus for the Optional Subject will be provided by UPSC in the Civil Services Preliminary Exam Notification. In the meantime, candidates can check their respective optional subject syllabus in detail provided here.

Q. What is the difference between the UPSC Prelims and UPSC mains Syllabus?

A. There is no major difference between the UPSC prelims and the UPSC Mains syllabus. In general, the UPSC Prelims syllabus is the subset of the UPSC Mains exam syllabus. If any aspirant preparing for the Civil Services exam, if he/she prepares comprehensively for the UPSC Mains syllabus, then his/her prelims exam preparation is taken care of.

Q. What is the importance of UPSC Syllabus in IAS Exam preparation?

A. UPSC Syllabus is the key to Civil Services exam preparation. Aspirants preparing for the UPSC exam should have a copy of UPSC Syllabus handy and need to prepare all the subjects according to topics mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus.

Also, if you are aware of all the syllabus topics provided by UPSC, then it will be helpful in newspaper reading and current affairs preparation.

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