UPSC Anthropology Syllabus for IAS Optional Paper 2022 - Get PDF (2022)

UPSC Anthropology Syllabus and exam pattern will help the candidates know about what all they will have to include in their preparation so as to cover the syllabus. The UPSC Syllabus and Exam Pattern is released by the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) every year before the examination.

Union Public Service Commission offers Anthropology as an optional subject among 48 others. IAS Anthropology Optional Subject has Paper 1 and Paper 2 in UPSC Mains. Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks.

The candidates from a science affiliated background can choose anthropology as their optional subject. In this article, detailed information about the UPSC Anthropology Syllabus, Paper Pattern, Preparation Tips and Reference Books.

Not just anthropology, but any other optional subject initially requires proper knowledge of the syllabus and the paper pattern of the subject. The UPSC Anthropology Optional Syllabus is listed below along with Important topics to study:

Meaning, scope and development of Anthropology
  • Relationships with other disciplines: Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Humanities.
  • Main branches of Anthropology, their scope and relevance:
    1. Social-cultural Anthropology.
    2. Biological Anthropology.
    3. Archaeological Anthropology.
    4. Linguistic Anthropology.
  • Human Evolution and the emergence of Man:
  • Biological and Cultural factors in human evolution.
  • Theories of Organic Evolution (Pre- Darwinian, Darwinian and Post-Darwinian).
  • Synthetic theory of evolution; Brief outline of terms and concepts of evolutionary biology (Doll’s rule, Cope’s rule, Gause’s rule, parallelism, convergence, adaptive radiation, and mosaic evolution).
  • Characteristics of Primates; Evolutionary Trend and Primate Taxonomy; Primate Adaptations; (Arboreal and Terrestrial) Primate Taxonomy; Primate Behaviour; Tertiary and Quaternary fossil primates; Living Major Primates; Comparative Anatomy of Man and Apes; Skeletal changes due to erect posture and its implications.
  • Phylogenetic status, characteristics and geographical distribution of the following:
  • Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Humanities.
  • Homo erectus: Africa (Paranthropus), Europe (Homo erectus heidelbergensis), Asia (Homo erectus javanicus, Homo erectus pekinensis).
  • Neanderthal Man- La-Chapelle-aux-saints (Classical type), Mt. Carmel (Progressive type).
  • Rhodesian man.
  • Homo sapiens — Cromagnon, Grimaldi and Chancelade.
  • The biological basis of life: The Cell, DNA structure and replication, Protein Synthesis, Gene, Mutation, Chromosomes, and Cell Division.
  • Principles of Prehistoric Archaeology. Chronology: Relative and Absolute Dating methods.
  • Cultural Evolution- Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures:
  1. Paleolithic
  2. Mesolithic
  3. Neolithic
  4. Chalcolithic
  5. Copper-Bronze Age
  6. Iron Age
The Nature of Culture
  • The concept and characteristics of culture and civilization; Ethnocentrism vis-à-vis cultural Relativism.
  • The Nature of Society: Concept of Society; Society and Culture; Social Institutions; Social groups; and Social stratification.
  • Marriage: Definition and universality; Laws of marriage (endogamy, exogamy, hypergamy, hypogamy, incest taboo); Types of marriage (monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, group marriage). Functions of marriage; Marriage regulations (preferential, prescriptive and proscriptive); Marriage payments (bride wealth and dowry).
  • Family: Definition and universality; Family, household and domestic groups; functions of family; Types of family (from the perspectives of structure, blood relation, marriage, residence and succession); Impact of urbanization, industrialization and feminist movements on family.
  • Kinship: Consanguinity and Affinity; Principles and types of descent (Unilineal, Double, Bilateral, Ambilineal); Forms of descent groups (lineage, clan, phratry, moiety and kindred); Kinship terminology (descriptive and classificatory); Descent, Filiation and Complementary Filiation; Descent and Alliance.
Economic organization
  • Meaning, scope and relevance of economic anthropology; Formalist and Substantivist debate; Principles governing the production, distribution and exchange (reciprocity, redistribution and market), in communities, subsisting on hunting and gathering, fishing, swiddening, pastoralism, horticulture, and agriculture; globalization and indigenous economic systems.
Political organization and Social Control
  • Band, tribe, chiefdom, kingdom and state; concepts of power, authority and legitimacy; social control, law and justice in simple societies.
  • Anthropological approaches to the study of religion (evolutionary, psychological and functional); monotheism and polytheism; sacred and profane; myths and rituals; forms of religion in tribal and peasant societies (animism, animatism, fetishism, naturism and totemism); religion, magic and science distinguished; magico- religious functionaries (priest, shaman, medicine man, sorcerer and witch).
Anthropological Theories
  • Classical evolutionism (Tylor, Morgan and Frazer)
  • Historical particularism (Boas); Diffusionism (British, German and American)
  • Functionalism (Malinowski); Structural- functionalism (Radcliffe-Brown)
  • Structuralism (L’evi – Strauss and E. Leach)
  • Culture and personality (Benedict, Mead, Linton, Kardiner and Cora – du Bois).
  • Neo – evolutionism (Childe, White, Steward, Sahlins and Service)
  • Cultural materialism (Harris)
  • Symbolic and interpretive theories (Turner, Schneider and Geertz)
  • Cognitive theories (Tyler, Conklin)
  • Postmodernism in anthropology
Culture, language and communication
  • Nature, origin and characteristics of language; verbal and non-verbal communication; social context of language use.
Research methods in anthropology
  • Fieldwork tradition in anthropology
  • The distinction between technique, method and methodology
  • Tools of data collection: observation, interview, schedules, questionnaire, Case study, genealogy, life-history, oral history, secondary sources of information, participatory methods.
  • Analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.
Human Genetics
  • Methods and Application: Methods for the study of genetic principles in the man-family study (pedigree analysis, twin study, foster child, co-twin method, cytogenetic method, chromosomal and karyotype analysis), biochemical methods, immunological methods, D.N.A. technology and recombinant technologies.
  • Mendelian genetics in the man-family study, single factor, multifactor, lethal, sub-lethal and polygenic inheritance in man.
  • Concept of genetic polymorphism and selection, Mendelian population, Hardy-Weinberg law; causes and changes which bring down frequency – mutation, isolation, migration, selection, inbreeding and genetic drift. Consanguineous and non-consanguineous mating, genetic load, genetic effect of consanguineous and cousin marriages.
  • Chromosomes and chromosomal aberrations in man, methodology.
  • Numerical and structural aberrations (disorders).
  • Sex chromosomal aberrations – Klinefelter (XXY), Turner (XO), Super female (XXX), intersex and other syndromic disorders.
  • Autosomal aberrations – Down syndrome, Patau, Edward and Cri-du-chat syndromes.
  • Genetic imprints in human disease, genetic screening, genetic counselling, human DNA profiling, gene mapping and genome study.
  • Race and racism, biological basis of morphological variation of non-metric and metric characters. Racial criteria, racial traits in relation to heredity and environment; biological basis of racial classification, racial differentiation and race crossing in man.
  • Age, sex and population variation as genetic marker- ABO, Rh blood groups, HLA Hp, transferring, Gm, blood enzymes. Physiological characteristics-Hb level, body fat, pulse rate, respiratory functions and sensory perceptions in different cultural and socio-economic groups.
  • Concepts and methods of Ecological Anthropology. Bio-cultural Adaptations – Genetic and Non- genetic factors. Man’s physiological responses to environmental stresses: hot desert, cold, high altitude climate.
  • Epidemiological Anthropology: Health and disease. Infectious and non-infectious diseases. Nutritional deficiency-related diseases.
Concept of human growth and development
  • Stages of growth – prenatal, natal, infant, childhood, adolescence, maturity, senescence. Factors affecting growth and development are genetic, environmental, biochemical, nutritional, cultural and socio-economic. Ageing and senescence. Theories and observations – biological and chronological longevity. Human physique and somatotypes. Methodologies for growth studies.
Demographic theories- biological, social and cultural
  • Relevance of menarche, menopause and other bio events to fertility. Fertility patterns and differentials.
  • Biological and socio-ecological factors influencing fecundity, fertility, natality and mortality.
Applications of Anthropology
  • Anthropology of sports, Nutritional anthropology, Anthropology in designing of defence and other equipment, Forensic Anthropology, Methods and principles of personal identification and reconstruction, Applied human genetics – Paternity diagnosis, genetic counselling and eugenics, DNA technology in diseases and medicine, serogenetics and cytogenetics in reproductive biology.

UPSC Recruitment is based on three stages i.e., Prelim Exam, Mains Exam and an Interview. The candidates get to choose their optional subject for Paper VI & VII.

(Video) UPSC Anthropology Optional Syllabus 2022 | UPSC Anthropology Optional Syllabus in Hindi

Anthropology is a subject chosen mainly by the aspirant from the science/ engineering background or one similar to these. If one has a strong interest in Anthropology it becomes a child’s play to earn decent merit in the overall examination.

Some of the best books to study the complete UPSC Anthropology optional subject are mentioned below:

This article comprised detailed information about the syllabus, paper pattern, reference books and previous years’ question papers. For step-by-step guidance, preparation strategies, test series, syllabus, etc. do install Testbook App.

Q.1Can candidates from any background choose Anthropology as their optional subject in the UPSC exam?

No, candidates from life science background or similar can choose Anthropology as their optional subject UPSC exam.

(Video) Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC Explained in Five Minutes

Q.2Does UPSC Anthropology also comprise the current social and economic Anthropology?

Yes, UPSC Anthropology also comprises the current social and economic Anthropology along with its applications.

(Video) Complete your Anthropology Optional for ‘FREE’

Q.3Are there any changes in the syllabus of UPSC Anthropology optional subject as compared to last year?

No, there has been no major change in the UPSC Anthropology syllabus as compared to the previous years.

Q.4What is the duration of the UPSC Anthropology optional Exam?

(Video) Anthropology Syllabus UPSC | Anthropology Optional UPSC | Anthropology Optional - Syllabus UPSC

Every UPSC optional subject is allotted 3 hours of duration.

Q.5How many papers are there for the UPSC Anthropology Optional Subject?

There are 2 papers in the UPSC Anthropology Optional Subject of 250 marks each.


What is the syllabus of Anthropology in UPSC optional? ›

The UPSC Anthropology syllabus for IAS Exam focuses on the candidates' ability to understand the subject as science and apply the knowledge to problems faced by the people. The topics included in this subject are related to human evolution, social structures, cultural evolution and development.

Is Anthropology a good optional for IAS? ›

Anthropology. Anthropology is considered one of the best optional subjects in UPSC. It is increasingly being chosen by aspirants due to the scoring nature of this subject.

Is Anthropology easy optional for UPSC? ›

Anthropology is thought of as an easy subject for graduates of science. The subject is peppered with concepts of science. This makes the subject easier to grasp for science students. The reading material for this subject is also easily available.

Which optional subject is best for UPSC 2022? ›

What are the top 10 optional subjects in UPSC?
  • Sociology.
  • Agriculture.
  • Medical Science.
  • Literature.
  • Anthropology.
  • Public Administration.
  • Psychology.
  • Law.


1. Strategy for Anthropology Optional for Mains 2022 | By Parikshit Thoudam - AIR 60, UPSC CSE 2020
(LevelUp IAS)
2. ANTHROPOLOGY OPTIONAL STRATEGY |ANTHROPOLOGY में अच्छे अंक कैसे प्राप्त करें? |कम अंक क्यों आते हैं?
(IAS PCS Pathshala)
3. Anthropology Optional for UPSC| Anthropology Lecture| Introduction to Anthropology| Syllabus-Books
4. Anthropology Paper 1 Analysis || Mains 2021 || UPSC CSE 2021
(UPSC with Little Officers )
5. How to Prepare #Anthropology Optional | Tips & strategy | Anthropology #Syllabus for #UPSC #IAS
(Yojna IAS)
6. Decoding the Syllabus and Strategy of Anthropology Optional for UPSC By Rajasekhar Sir
(JV's IAS)

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