Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC

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Public Administration Syllabus for UPSE

Public Administration is one of the popular optional subjects for UPSC Mains Exam and has two papers, Paper 1 on Administrative Theory and Paper 2 on Indian Administration. The total subjects in Public Administration optional syllabus for UPSC are 26, with 12 subjects in Paper 1 and 14 subjects in Paper 2. This optional subject is considered as a scoring one amongst 48 optional subjects in UPSC. The best strategy to prepare for Public Administration Optional for UPSC is through making short notes, practising previous year question papers, remembering famous quotes from renowned thinkers and learning basics of each concept. This blog brings you a complete guide on Public Administration syllabus for UPSC, preparation tips, strategies as well as preparation books.

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Public Administration Optional for UPSC

There are mainly two papers in the Public Administration optional for UPSC with Paper 1 having 12 and Paper 2 having 14 subjects.

Public Administration Paper 1 – Administrative TheoryPublic Administration Paper 2 –
Indian Administration
Introduction Evolution of Indian Administration 
Administrative Thought Philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government 
Administrative Behaviour Public Sector Undertakings 
OrganizationsPlans and  Priorities 
Accountability  Union Government and Administration 
Administrative LawCivil Services 
Development Dynamics Financial Management 
Comparative Public Administration State Government and Administration 
Public PolicyDistrict Administration since Independence 
Personnel AdministrationAdministrative Reforms Since Independence
Technique of Administrative Empowerment Rural Development
Financial Administration Urban Local Government
Law and Order Administration
Significant Issues in Indian Administration

Public administration is considered to be one of the most favourite subjects among the IAS aspirants. The major reason behind the choice of the subject amongst those who are preparing for IAS exam is the fact that this subject gives a clear idea about the governing system in the country. If you aspire to be an IAS officer it would be beneficial for you to be through with the details of the Government and its policies. Generally, the questions that are there from this subject are straightforward and to the point  Also, there is an abundance of study material for the subject. Thus, reading something which will be beneficial for the upcoming services would be a better choice as compared to the other subjects.

Before we go on and take a detailed look at the syllabus of public administration for UPSC exams, let us take a quick look at the main topics first-

Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC- Paper 1


Main topics of this section are scope, meaning and significance of Public Administration, the evolution of the discipline and its present status; challenges of Liberalization; privatisation; public choice approach; good governance etc. 

Administrative Thought 

Weber’s bureaucratic model its critique and post-Weberian developments; dynamic administration; scientific management and scientific management movement; human relation school etc are the important concepts of this unit.

Administrative Behaviour

Major topics of this section are- techniques and process of decision making; morale; motivation theories; theories of leadership; communication; traditional and modem; process and contemporary etc


Insights under this unit of public administration syllabus for UPSC are structure and forms: ministries and departments, companies, corporations; boards and commissions; theories systems, contingency; regulatory authorities etc

Accountability and Control 

Questions from this section will be based on the topics like legislative; executive and judicial control over administration; citizens and administration; the role of media; interest groups etc.

Administrative Law

Here are few important concepts of this unit- dicey on administrative law; Delegated Legislation; meaning, scope and significance; administrative tribunals.

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Comparative Public Administration

Administration and politics in different countries; the current status of comparative public administration; Riggsian models and their critique; historical and sociological factors affecting administrative systems etc are some of the essential topics of the unit.

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Development Dynamics 

Mostly the topics covered under this unit of public administration syllabus for UPSC are changing the profile of development; Strong state versus the market debate; Impact of liberalization on administration in developing countries; etc

Personnel Administration

Essential inclusions in this topic are the importance of human resource development; training, career, recruitment, monitoring and review etc 

Public Policy

Studying Public Policy for the Public Administration syllabus for UPSC, you must cover topics like Models of policymaking & their critique; Conceptualisation, Planning, Monitoring, Implementation, Evolution Review of their limitations; Public policy formations and state theories.

Technique of Administrative Improvement

This topic of Public Administration comprises concepts like work study and work management, Management aid tools such as CPM, PERT, MIS and network analysis; e-governance and Information Technology and Organisations and methods.

Financial Administration

For financial administration, the core topics are: Public borrowings and public debt, Types and forms of budgets, Accounts & audit, Monetary and fiscal policies, Budgetary process and financial accountability.

Can’t find which books cover the entire Public Administration syllabus for UPSC?
Read our exclusive blog on Public Administration Books

Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC- Paper 2

Evolution of Indian Administration 

Main topics covered under this section of the public administration syllabus for UPSC are Mughal Administration; Revenue Administration, Legacy of British rule in politics and administration; Local self Government; Indianization of Public services; Kautilya Arthshastra etc.

Philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government

This concept in the public administration syllabus for UPSC will gauge candidates’ knowledge regarding the topics like Constitutionalism; Political Culture; Bureaucracy and Democracy; Salient features and value premise etc.

Public Sector Undertakings 

Important topics of this section are Forms of Public Sector Undertakings; Problems of Autonomy, Accountability and Comtrol; Public Sector in Moder India; the impact of Liberalization and privatization etc.

Union Government and Administration 

Here are the essential inclusions of this topic- Cabinet Secretary; Prime Minister’s Office; Executive; Parliament; Ministries and Department; Boards; Commissions; Field Organization; Recent Trends; Intra-Government Relations etc.

Plans and Priorities 

The public administration syllabus for UPSC under this section contains topics like role, composition and function of the planning commission and the National Development Council; Constitutional Ammendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development; social justice; Indicative Planning; Process Planning formulations at Union or State Levels etc.

State Government and Administration 

Union-state administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Chief Minister; Governer; Chief Secretary; Council of Minister; State Secretariat; Directorates etc are the main topis of this portion.

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District Administration since Independence

Predominantly the unit focuses on- union-state local relations; district administration; democratic decentralization; imperatives of development management and law and order administration. 

Civil Services

This unit will have questions from the topics like Good governance initiatives; code of conduct and discipline; staff association; political rights; civil services neutrality; civil services activism; constitutional position etc.

Financial Management

 Mostly the topics covered under this unit of the public administration syllabus for UPSC are Accounting techniques; the role of Controller General Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General; Role of Finance Ministry in Monetary and Fiscal Area etc.

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Other important topics under the paper 2 of public administration syllabus for UPSC are:

  • Administrative Reforms since Independence: Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation, Major concerns, Imp. committed and commissions.
  • Rural Development: 73rd Constitutional Amendment, Rural development programmes, foci and strategies, Institutions & agencies since independence, Decentralization & Panchayati Raj.
  • Urban Local Development: 74th Constitutional Amendment, politics & administration with reference to city management, Municipal Governance- its main features, structures, finance and problem areas; Global local debate, new localism.
  • Law and Order Administration: Role of central and state agencies (including paramilitary forces) in the maintenance of law and order as well as countering insurgency and terrorism, National Police Commission; British Legacy; Investigative Agencies; Reforms in Police; Police Public relations and Criminalization of Politics and Administration.
  • Significant issues in Indian Administration: Corruption & Administration; Problems of Administration in Coalition Regimes, Values in Public Service, Regulatory Commissions, National Human Rights Commission; Citizen-administration interface and Disaster management.

Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC Prelims

Wondering about the exam pattern of UPSC prelims? Here is the syllabus of public administration syllabus:

  1. Theories of Administration
  2. Administrative Behaviour
  3. Accountability and Control
  4. Administrative Systems
  5. Financial Administrations
  6.  Union Government and Administration in India
  7. State and District Administration

Strategy for Public Administration Optional

Finding the right strategy for the optional subject of public administration is also important to prepare for its vast syllabus. Here are some of the topper tips and strategies for public administration optional for UPSC:

  • Strengthen your basics: Public Administration for UPSC is more of a theoretical subject and that’s why it is important to learn its basic concepts, theories and principles and gain conceptual clarity.
  • Don’t Avoid it Because it’s Optional: Even if the public administration is an optional subject, it can still make quite a bigger difference in your score as it is easy to grasp and write about after learning the basics. So, it is important to study a few concepts of public administration every day to ensure that you are covering some syllabus regularly.
  • Short Notes are Always Useful: For every public administration topic you cover, it is important to make a summary or short notes on your own which will help you remember the concepts better.
  • Score Well Through Quotes & Previous Year Question Papers: You can easily aim for a higher score in Public Administration for UPSC by learning famous quotes and sayings of popular thinkers and practicing as many previous year question papers as possible.

How to Prepare for Public Administration Section in UPSC Exams?

Once you have gone through all the core topics in Public Administration syllabus for UPSC, the next step is to draft a preparation strategy, gather sample papers and previous year question papers as well as the preparation books. Here are some of the major tips that can assist you in preparing for Public Administration section in UPSC:

  • Break down the public administration syllabus into different sections and start making notes accordingly. You will find the basic concepts covered in preparation guides like Sharma, Sodana or S. Polinaidu and learn those foundational concepts as it will help you strengthen your basic knowledge of this subject.
  • Go through previous year question papers and highlight the different types of questions asked under this section. Once you have covered all the topics for a paper, practice a minimum of four previous year question papers which will help you understand your strong and weak concepts.
  • Learn important quotes from prominent thinkers as citing those quotes in your answers can fetch you better marks. While drafting the answers for Public Administration questions, make sure that you find suitable quotes to add to them and you will surely get a good score in this optional paper.
  • Add the preparation of this optional section in your daily study schedule and don’t leave it for the last few weeks before the exam since it is an extensively theoretical subject that you must thoroughly prepare for. Spend a minimum of two to three hours daily on covering varied concepts of Public Administration.
  • For Comparative Public Administration questions, add cross-cultural examples to your answers and make a list of such instances which you can utilise for different types of twisting questions.

Important Public Administration Books for UPSC

Whilst preparing for one of the most prestigious examinations of the country, the ideal step should be collecting easy-to-read and effective study material. Here are some popular public administration books for you-

Books Publications Buy Here Links 
Administrative ThinkersPrasad and PrasadBuy Here
Indian Public AdministrationArora and GoyalBuy Here
New Horizons of Public AdministrationMohit BhattacharyaBuy Here
Public AdministrationFadia and FadiaBuy Here
Public Administration In India 1st EditionMaheshwariBuy Here
Public AdministrationLaxmikantBuy Here
Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th EditionNicholas HenryBuy Here

Best Public Administration Optional Books 

Referring to the right books will help you prepare and revise core topics. Here are some popular public administration optional books for you-

Pavan Kumar’s IAS Public Administration Optional Handwritten Class Notes 2020-21 By Pavan Kumar IASBuy Here
Public Administration By PearsonBuy Here
Kiran Public Administration Paper 2 For UPSC Main Exam By Atul ChoudharyBuy Here
Public Administration by M Laxmikanth Buy Here
UPSC General Studies IAS Prelims (10 Years)Buy Here

Previous Year Questions for Public Administration 

Here are some of the important questions from the previous year’s public administration paper- 

  • Public administration is constantly being reinvented because it is context. Elaborate
  • Delegated legislation has become a strategic tool in the hands of the Executive despite its utility. Comment
  • With the entry of the concept of good governance, the discipline of public administration has shed its statistical character. Explain
  • Governance is neither a paradigm nor a panacea for all the ills of government; it may be a more useful approach when other methods fail in providing Public Service. Critically evaluate. 
  • Media, the fourth estate is in chains to examine the statement in the context of governmental accountability. Comment.
  • A narrow view of information comes in waves of successful implementation of MIS in organisations and life. 
  • Contractualism has become a favourite policy of neoliberal forces but without its share of controversy. Argue.
  • Has the governance left to debureaucratization and decentralization? Assess its impact on bureaucratic inertia. 
  • The imperatives of administrative ethics unnecessarily and an antidote to I was only offering the orders argument by public officials. Explain. 
  • Discuss the major areas of change in the tax reform of the post-liberalization era. How do you justify the importance of direct tax reforms in this context? 

Click Here to Download Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC PDF!

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What is public administration subject in UPSC?

Public Administration is an optional subject in the UPSC Mains Civil Services exams and comprises two optional papers, i.e. Paper 1 and Paper 2. Paper 1 is constituted of 12 topics including Introduction, Administrative Thought, Comparative Public Administration, Development Dynamics, Personnel Administration, Public Policy, Financial Administration, etc. Moreover, Paper 2 contains 14 topics such as Evolution of Administration, Public Sector Undertakings, Civil Services, Financial Management, etc.

Is public administration a good optional for IAS?

Public Administration is considered as a good optional for IAS and is frequently opted by exam aspirants. There are many pros of taking Public Administration as an optional in UPSC as you will get to know state administration and government mechanisms and there are plenty of books, notes and study materials to prepare for this section. It is also an easily understandable subject, comprises straightforward and direct questions and assist in preparing for General Studies, essays as well as IAS interview.

How can I prepare for public administration?

The best way to prepare for public administration in UPSC is by first understanding the basic concepts of all the topics under Paper I and Paper II. Make short and concise notes, learn quotes from prominent thinkers and cite them in your answers to fetch a better score and practice as many previous year question papers as possible!

We hope that through this blog about public administration syllabus for UPSC has helped you gain a better understanding of the subject. If you want to get aligned with your dream career path, reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu and they will help you choose the best field for you!

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