UPSC Mains Syllabus for Optional Subjects

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UPSC Main exam is the second stage of IAS examinations. The first seven papers are fixed but for the last two papers, candidates can choose their subject. These subjects are called optional subjects which a candidate can choose according to her/his preference.

There are 48 UPSC optional subjects in total. Out of these, 23 are literature subjects. Let’s take a look at the Syllabus for UPSC Optional Subjects.

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1. UPSC Agriculture Syllabus

UPSC Agriculture paper looks at the ecosystem with relevance to agricultural activities in India. The second paper gets into the science of the paper with basic knowledge of plant and crop management. This is the syllabus for UPSC Agriculture Optional Paper.

UPSC Agriculture Paper I Syllabus

  • Ecology and its relevance
  • Cropping patterns
  • Types of forestry plantations – features and scope
  • Propagation of forest plants
  • Forest products
  • Soil Types and Fertility
  • Principles of soil fertility
  • Soil conservation
  • Water-use efficiency
  • Farm management
  • Agricultural price policy
  • Crop Insurance
  • Agricultural extension
  • Training programmes for extension workers

UPSC Agriculture Paper II Syllabus

  • Cell structure
  • Laws of heredity
  • History of plant breeding
  • Seed production and processing technologies
  • Role of public and private sectors in seed production and marketing
  • WTO and Agriculture
  • Principles of Plant Physiology
  • Physiology of seed development
  • Enzymes and plant pigments
  • Important fruits, crops, vegetables, spices, and flower
  • Diagnosis of pests and diseases of crops and their economic importance
  • Classification of pests and diseases and their management
  • Integrated pest and disease management
  • Food production and consumption trends in India
  • Food security and growing population

2. UPSC Animal Husbandry Syllabus

It focuses on the science of Animal Husbandry in the first paper and technology/hygiene part in the second paper. This is the syllabus for UPSC Animal Husbandry Optional Paper.

UPSC Animal Husbandry Paper I Syllabus

  • Animal Nutrition
  • Animal Physiology
  • Livestock Production and Management
  • Animal Reproduction
  • Genetics and Animal Breeding
  • Basic Philosophy of Extension

UPSC Animal Husbandry Paper II Syllabus

  • Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Hygiene
  • Animal Diseases
  • Veterinary Public Health
  • Milk and Milk Production Technology
  • Meat Hygiene and Technology

3. UPSC Anthropology Syllabus

Anthropology as a subject studies the human and societal behavior of past and present. This paper focuses on the basics of anthropology in the first part and then the role of anthropology in the Indian context in the second part. This is the syllabus for UPSC Anthropology Optional Paper.

UPSC Anthropology Paper I Syllabus

  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • Nature of Culture and Society
  • Family
  • Kinship
  • Marriage
  • Economic Organisation
  • Political and Social Control
  • Religion
  • Anthropology Theories
  • Communication Language and Culture
  • Research Methods of Anthropology
  • Human Genetics
  • Applications of Anthropology

UPSC Anthropology Paper II Syllabus

  • Evolution of Indian Culture
  • Civilization and Palaeo
  • EthnoArchaeology in India
  • Demographic Profile in India
  • Tribal Situation in India
  • Problems of Tribal Communities
  • Caste System in India
  • Indian Villages

4. UPSC Botany Syllabus

It is a scientific paper that studies plants and their structure. The first paper looks at microbiology at large while the second paper looks at the breeding and evolution part. This is the syllabus for UPSC Botany Optional Paper.

UPSC Botany Paper I Syllabus

  • Microbiology
  • Plant Pathology
  • Cryptograms
  • Morphogenesis
  • Phanerogams
  • Plant Resource Development

UPSC Botany Paper II Syllabus

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology and Evolution
  • Physiology and Biochemistry
  • Plant Breeding
  • Biotechnology and Biostatistics

5. UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Candidates with a science background should opt for this paper. The first paper covers the basics of chemistry like atoms, states, kinetics, and more. The second paper looks at different reactions and bondings and gets more detail-oriented. This is the syllabus for UPSC Chemistry Optional Paper.

UPSC Chemistry Paper I Syllabus

  • Atomic Structure
  • Chemical Bonding
  • Solid State
  • The Gaseous State and Transport Phenomenon
  • Liquid State
  • Thermodynamics
  • Phase Equilibria and Solutions
  • Electrochemistry
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Photochemistry – light, and hydrogen
  • Surface Phenomenon and Catalysts
  • Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Coordination Chemistry
  • Main Group Chemistry
  • General Chemistry

UPSC Chemistry Paper II Syllabus

  • Delocalized Covalent Bonding
  • Reaction Mechanisms
  • Pericyclic Reactions
  • Preparation and Properties of Polymers
  • Synthetic uses of Regents
  • Photochemistry – organic compound
  • Spectroscopy

6. UPSC Civil Engineering Syllabus

This branch of engineering deals with the design and construction of machinery. The first paper looks at the basic concepts of the subject and the second paper gets into the construction and environmental part of the discipline. This is the syllabus for UPSC Civil Engineering Optional Paper.

UPSC Civil Engineering Paper I Syllabus

  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Kinematics and Kinetics
  • Strength of Materials
  • Deflection of beams
  • Structural Analysis
  • Slope Deflection
  • Moment distribution
  • Rolling loads and Influences lines
  • Matrix methods of analysis
  • Arches
  • Plastic Analysis of beams and frames
  • Unsymmetrical bending
  • Structural Steel Design
  • Design of Concrete and Masonry Structures
  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Water tanks
  • Prestressed concrete
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Open Channel Flow
  • Hydraulic Machines
  • Dimensional Analysis and Similitude
  • Boundary layer
  • Turbulent flow through pipes
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Soil Type and structure

UPSC Civil Engineering Paper II Syllabus

  • Construction Technology
  • Construction Equipment
  • Planning and Management
  • Surveying
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Hydrology
  • Groundwater flow
  • Water Resources and Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental pollution

7. UPSC Commerce Syllabus

As the name suggests, the papers focus on finance and taxation in the first part and organizational behavior and human resource management in the second half. This is the syllabus for UPSC Commerce Optional Paper.

UPSC Commerce Paper I Syllabus

  • Financing Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Taxation and Auditing
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Institutions
  • Finance Markets

UPSC Commerce Paper II Syllabus

  • Organization Theory
  • Organization Behaviour
  • Human Resource Management
  • Industrial Relations

8. UPSC Economics Syllabus

The first paper looks at economics in general with a focus on micro and macroeconomics. The second paper gets into the Indian Context with the main focus on the Indian economy post-New Economic Policy. This is the syllabus for UPSC Economics Optional Paper.

UPSC Economics Paper I Syllabus

  • Advanced Micro Economics
  • Advanced Macro Economics
  • Money Banking and Finance
  • International Economics
  • Growth Theories
  • Development Theories

UPSC Economics Paper II Syllabus

  • Indian Economy Post Independence
  • Liberalization
  • Privatization
  • Globalization

9. UPSC Electrical Engineering Syllabus

This branch of engineering deals with the application of equipment in machinery. The first paper looks at the basic concepts of the subject like circuit theory and electronics and the second paper gets into the control system and instrument part of the discipline.

This is the syllabus for UPSC Electrical Engineering Optional Paper.

UPSC Electrical Engineering Paper I Syllabus

  • Circuits Theory
  • Signal and Systems
  • EM Theory
  • Analog Electronics
  • Digital Electronics
  • Energy Conversion
  • Power Electronics and Drives
  • Analog Communications

UPSC Electrical Engineering Paper II Syllabus

  • Control System
  • Microprocessors and Microcomputers
  • Measurement and Instrumentation
  • Power System Analysis and Control
  • Power System protection
  • Digital Communication

10. UPSC Geography Syllabus

This paper looks at geography in very much detail. The first part looks at different geographical concepts like – climatology and oceanography, and different perspectives. The second part is about Indian Geography and different aspects of it. This is the syllabus for UPSC Geography Optional Subject.

UPSC Geography Paper I Syllabus

UPSC Physical Geography
  • Geomorphology
  • Climatology
  • Oceanography
  • Biogeography
  • Environmental Geography
UPSC Human Geography
  • Perspectives in Human Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Population and settlement geography
  • Regional Planning
  • Models, theories and laws in human Geography

UPSC Geography Paper-II Syllabus

  • Physical Setting of India
  • Natural Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Industry
  • Transport, Communication, and Trade
  • Cultural Settings
  • Settlement
  • Regional Planning & Development
  • Political Aspects
  • Contemporary Issues

11. UPSC Geology Syllabus

This paper looks at geology as a basic discipline. The first part looks at different types of geology. The second part is about petrology and mineralogy. This is the syllabus for UPSC Geology Optional Subject.

UPSC Geology Paper I Syllabus

  • General Geology
  • Geomorphology
  • Remote Sensing
  • Structural Geology
  • Paleontology
  • Indian Stratigraphy
  • Hydrogeology
  • Engineering Geology

UPSC Geology Paper II Syllabus

  • Mineralogy
  • Igneous Petrology
  • Metamorphic Petrology
  • Sedimentary Petrology
  • Economic Geology
  • Mining Geology
  • GeoChemistry
  • Environmental Geology

12. UPSC History Syllabus

It is one of the most extensive papers with a wide syllabus. The first paper looks at the history of India and the world from the time of Indus Valley Civilisation till the end of the Mughal Empire.

The second paper focuses on Indian National Movements and World Wars at large. This is the syllabus for UPSC History Optional Subject.

UPSC History Paper I Syllabus

  • Sources of History
  • Pre History and Protohistory
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Megalithic Cultures
  • Aryans and Vedic Period
  • Period of Mahajanapadas
  • Mauryan Empire
  • Post Mauryan Period
  • Early State and Society in India, Deccan, and South India
  • Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
  • The regional States during the Gupta Era
  • Themes in Early Indian History
  • Early Medieval India: 750-1200
  • Cultural Traditions in India: 750-1200
  • The Thirteenth Century
  • The Fourteenth Century
  • Society and Culture in 13th and 14th
  • Fifteenth and sixteenth century- Political Developments and Economy
  • Akbar
  • Mughal Emperors
  • 17th Century – Society and Economy
  • Culture during Mughals
  • The 18th Century

UPSC History Paper-II Syllabus

  • European Penetration in India
  • British Expansion in India
  • Early Structure of British Raj
  • Economic Impact of British Colonial
  • Social and Cultural Developments
  • Social and Religious Reforms in Bengal and others
  • Indian Response to British Rule
  • Indian Nationalism Rise
  • Rise of Gandhi
  • Constitutional Developments
  • Features of National Movement
  • Politics Separatism
  • Consolidation of Nation
  • Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  • Economy after Independence
  • Enlightenment and Modern Ideas
  • Origins of Moderns
  • Industrialization
  • Nation-State System
  • Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Revolution and Counter-Revolution
  • World Wars
  • The aftermath of World Wars
  • The liberation of Colonial Rule
  • Decolonization and Underdevelopment
  • Unification of Europe
  • The disintegration of Soviet Union
  • Rise of Unipolar World

13. UPSC Law Syllabus

The first paper looks at the Indian Constitution at large while the second paper is more inclined towards different types of laws. This is the syllabus for UPSC Law Optional Subject.

UPSC Law Paper I Syllabus

  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • International Law
  • Constitution
  • Fundamental Rights
  • DPSP and Fundamental Duties
  • President and Council of Ministers
  • Governors
  • Supreme and High Court
  • Centre and State – services
  • Emergency Provisions
  • Amendments in Constitution
  • Legislation and Execution
  • Judiciary
  • Introduction
  • State Recognition
  • Law of the Sea
  • Individuals
  • Treaties
  • United Nations
  • Territorial Jurisdiction
  • Lawful Recourse to Force
  • Nuclear Weapon Legalities
  • International Tourism
  • International Monetary Law

UPSC Law Paper-II Syllabus

  • Law of Crimes
  • Law of Torts
  • Contemporary Legal Developments
  • Law of Contracts and Mercantile Law

14. UPSC Management Syllabus

As the name suggests, the papers focus on managerial functions and marketing in the first part and decision making and different types of management in the second half. This is the syllabus for UPSC Management Optional Paper.

UPSC Management Paper I Syllabus

  • Managerial Function and Process
  • Organizational Behaviour and Design
  • Human Resource Management
  • Accounting for Managers
  • Financial Management
  • Marketing Management

UPSC Management Paper-II Syllabus

  • Techniques in Decision Making
  • Production and Operation Management
  • Management Information System
  • Government Business Interface
  • Strategic Cost Management
  • International Business

15. UPSC Mathematics Syllabus

It is the science of numbers. The first paper looks at geometry and equations while the second one focuses on the programming and analysis part of mathematics. This is the syllabus for UPSC Mathematics Optional Paper.

UPSC Mathematics Paper I Syllabus

  • Linear Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Analytic Geometry
  • Ordinary Differential Equations
  • Dynamics and Statistics
  • Vector Analytics

UPSC Mathematics Paper II Syllabus

  • Algebra
  • Real Analysis
  • Complex Analysis
  • Linear Programming
  • Partial differential equations
  • Numerical Analysis
  • Computer programming
  • Mechanics and Fluid Dynamics

16. UPSC Mechanical Engineering Syllabus

This branch of engineering deals with the development and testing of machinery. The first paper looks at the basic concepts of the subject like mechanics of electronics and the second paper gets into the engineering part of the discipline. This is the syllabus for UPSC Mechanical Engineering Optional Paper.

UPSC Mechanical Engineering Paper I Syllabus

  • Mechanics of Rigid Bodies
  • Mechanics of Deformable Bodies
  • Engineering Materials
  • Theories of Machines
  • Manufacturing Process
  • Manufacturing Management

UPSC Mechanical Engineering Paper II Syllabus

  • Thermodynamics, Gas Dynamics and Turbine
  • Heat Transfer
  • IC Engines
  • Steam Engineering
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

17. UPSC Medical Science Syllabus

It focuses on Human Anatomy in the first paper at large and the General Medical Knowledge part in the second paper. This is the syllabus for UPSC Medical Science Optional Paper

UPSC Medical Science Paper I Syllabus

  • Human Anatomy
  • Embryology
  • Central and Peripheral Autonomic Nervous System
  • Human Physiology
  • Endocrine System
  • Physiology of the Reproductive System
  • Blood
  • Biochemistry
  • Pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology

UPSC Medical Science Paper II Syllabus

  • General Medicines
  • Pediatrics
  • Dermatology
  • General Surgery
  • Obstetrics
  • Gynecology inc. Family Planning
  • Community Medicine
  • Preventive and Social Medicine

18. UPSC Philosophy Syllabus

Philosophy studies the existence of life at large. The first part looks at different theories of Philosophy while the second paper looks at factors affecting of Philosophy. This is the syllabus for UPSC Philosophy Optional Paper.

UPSC Philosophy Paper I Syllabus

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Rationalism
  • Empiricism
  • Kant
  • Hegel
  • Moore, Russell and Early Wittgenstein
  • Logical Positivism
  • Later Wittgenstein
  • Phenomenology (Husserl)
  • Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger
  • Quine and Strawson
  • Carvaka
  • Jainism
  • Schools of Buddhism
  • Nyaya- Vaisesika
  • Samkhya
  • Yoga
  • Mimamsa
  • Schools of Vedanta
  • Aurobindo

UPSC Philosophy Paper II Syllabus

Socio-Political Philosophy
  • Social and Political Ideals
  • Sovereignty
  • Individual and State
  • Forms of Government
  • Political Ideologies
  • Humanism
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Development and Social Progress
  • Gender Discrimination
  • Caste Discrimination
Philosophy of Religion
  • Notions of God
  • Existence of God and their Critique
  • Problem of Evil
  • Soul
  • Reason, Revelation, and Faith
  • Religious Experience
  • Religion without God
  • Religion and Morality
  • Religious Pluralism and Problem of Absolute Truth
  • Nature of Religious Language

19. UPSC Physics Syllabus

The first paper covers the basics of physics, and the second paper looks at quantum physics and gets more detail-oriented. This is the syllabus for UPSC Physics Optional Paper.

UPSC Physics Paper I Syllabus

  • Mechanics of Particles
  • Mechanics of Rigid Body
  • Special Relativity
  • Mechanics of Continuous Media
  • Waves
  • Geometric Optics
  • Interference
  • Diffraction
  • Polarisation and Modern Optics
  • Electrostatics
  • Magnetostatics
  • Current Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Waves and Blackbody Radiation
  • Thermodynamics
  • Statistical Physics

UPSC Physics Paper II Syllabus

  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Molecular Physics
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics
  • Solid State Physics, Devices, and Electronics

20. UPSC Political Science Syllabus

The first paper looks at the Indian Constitution at large while the second paper is more inclined towards International Relations. This is the syllabus for UPSC Political Science Optional Subject.

UPSC Political Science Paper I Syllabus

  • Political Theory
  • Theories of State
  • Justice
  • Equality
  • Rights
  • Democracy
  • Concept of Power
  • Political Ideologies
  • Western Political Thought
  • Caste and Ethnicity in Politics
  • Indian Nationalism
  • Indian Constitution
  • Organs of Union and State Govt.
  • Grassroot Democracy
  • Statutory Institutions
  • Federalism
  • Planning and Economic Development
  • Party System
  • Social Movements

UPSC Political Science Paper-II Syllabus

  • Comparative Politics
  • State in a comparative perspective
  • Representation and Participation
  • Globalization
  • Study of International Relations
  • Key concepts in International Relations
  • Changing International Political Order
  • International Economic System
  • United Nations
  • Regionalization of World Politics
  • Indian Foreign Policy
  • India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement
  • India and South Asia
  • India and the Global South
  • Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy
  • India and the Global Centres of Power
  • India and the UN System
  • Contemporary Global Concerns
  • India and the Nuclear Question

21. UPSC Psychology Syllabus

Psychology studies the behavior of humans at large. The first part looks at basic concepts of Psychology while the second paper looks at the application of Psychology in different fields. This is the syllabus for UPSC Psychology Optional Paper.

UPSC Psychology Paper I Syllabus

  • Introduction
  • Methods of Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Development of Human Behaviour
  • Sensation and Attention
  • Perception
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Thinking
  • Motivation and Emotion
  • Intelligence and Aptitude
  • Personality
  • Attitudes, Values, and Interests
  • Language and Communication

UPSC Psychology Paper II Syllabus

  • Psychological Measurement of Individual Differences
  • Psychological well being and Mental Disorders
  • Therapeutic Approaches
  • Work Psychology and Organisational Behaviour
  • Psychology in Educational Field
  • Community Psychology
  • Rehabilitation Psychology
  • Application of Psychology to disadvantaged groups
  • Psychological problems of social integration
  • Application of Psychology in Information Technology and Mass Media
  • Psychology and Economic development
  • Application of psychology to environment and related fields
  • Application of psychology in other fields
  • Psychology of Gender

22. UPSC Public Administration Syllabus

This paper focuses on administrative functions and behavior in the first part and Indian Administration and Civil Services in the second half. This is the syllabus for UPSC Public Administration Optional Paper.

UPSC Public Administration Paper I Syllabus

  • Introduction
  • Administrative Thought
  • Administrative Behaviour
  • Organizations
  • Accountability and control
  • Administrative Law
  • Comparative Public Administration
  • Development Dynamics
  • Personnel Administration
  • Public Policy
  • Techniques of Administrative Improvement
  • Financial Administration

UPSC Public Administration Paper-II Syllabus

  • Evolution of Indian Administration
  • Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government
  • Public Sector Undertakings
  • Union Government and Administration
  • Plans and Priorities
  • State Government and Administration
  • District Administration since Independence
  • Civil Services
  • Financial Management
  • Administrative Reforms since Independence
  • Rural Development
  • Urban Local Government
  • Law and Order Administration
    Significant issues in Indian Administration

23. UPSC Sociology Syllabus

Sociology studies the behavior of society at large. The first part looks at the basic principles of Modern Society while the second paper looks at Indian society and norms followed in India. This is the syllabus for UPSC Sociology Optional Paper.

UPSC Sociology Paper I Syllabus

  • Sociology as Science
  • Sociology as Discipline
  • Research Methods and Analysis
  • Sociological Thinkers
  • Stratification and Mobility
  • Work and Economic Life
  • Politics and Society
  • Religion and Society
  • System of Kinship
  • Social Change in Modern Society

UPSC Sociology Paper II Syllabus

  • Perspectives on the study of Indian society
  • Impact of colonial rule on Indian society
  • Rural and Agrarian Social Structure
  • Caste System
  • Tribal communities in India
  • Social Classes in India
  • Religion and Society
  • Systems of Kinship in India
  • Visions of Social Change in India
  • Rural and Agrarian transformation in India
  • Industrialization and Urbanisation in India
  • Politics and Society
  • Social Movements in Modern India
  • Population Dynamics
  • Challenges of Social Transformation

24. UPSC Statistics Syllabus

It is again the science of numbers. The first paper looks at probability and theories while the second one focuses on statistics and quantitative economics. This is the syllabus for UPSC Statistics Optional Paper.

UPSC Statistics Paper I Syllabus

  • Probability
  • Statistical Inference
  • Linear Inference
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sampling Theory
  • Design of Experiments

UPSC Statistics Paper II Syllabus

  • Industrial Statistic
  • Optimization Techniques
  • Quantitative Economics
  • Official Statistics
  • Demography
  • Psychometry

25. UPSC Zoology Syllabus

Zoology is a discipline dealing with animals and their lives. It focuses on the basics of Zoology in the first paper and biology and biochemistry in the second paper. This is the syllabus for UPSC Zoology Optional Paper.

UPSC Zoology Paper I Syllabus

  • Non-Chordata and Chordata
  • Ecology
  • Ethology
  • Economic Zoology
  • Biostatistics
  • Instrumentation Methods

UPSC Zoology Paper-II Syllabus

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology of Mammals
  • Developmental Biology


The UPSC Optional Subjects are hard to crack, and the candidates should be mindful before choosing their option. This article will guide you step to step about the syllabus of UPSC Optional Subjects.

All the aspirants should go through it once before appearing for the mains exams. This article can make your selection process easier.

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