UPSC » Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC 2024

Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC 2024

Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC 2024: Get a comprehensive anthropology syllabus for UPSC exam preparation. Ace your UPSC anthropology preparation with this comprehensive syllabus and enhance your chances of success.


1.1 Meaning, Scope and development of Anthropology. 

1.2 Relationships with other disciplines : Social Sciences, behavioural Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical  Sciences, Earth Sciences and Humanities. 

1.3 Main branches of Anthropology, their scope and relevance : 

(a) Social-cultural Anthropology. 

(b) biological Anthropology. 

(c) Archaeological Anthropology. 

(d) Linguistic Anthropology.  

1.4 Human Evolution and emergence of Man : 

(a) Biological and Cultural factors in human evolution. 

(b) Theories of Organic Evolution (Pre-Darwinian, Darwinian and Post-Darwinian). 

(c) 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). 

1.5 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. 

1.6 Phylogenetic status, characteristics and geographical distribution of the following :

(a) Plio-preleistocene hominids inSouth and East Africa—Australopithecines. 

(b) Homo erectus : Africa (Paranthropus), Europe (Homo erectus (heidelbergensis), Asia (Homo  erectus javanicus, Homo erectus pekinensis.

(c) Neanderthal man—La-chapelle-aux-saints (Classical type), Mt. Carmel (Progressive type).

(d) Rhodesian man. 

(e) Homo sapiensCromagnon, Grimaldi and Chancelede. 

1.7 The biological basis of Life : The Cell, DNA structure and replication, Protein Synthesis, Gene,  Mutation, Chromosomes, and Cell Division. 

1.8 (a) Principles of Prehistoric Archaeology. Chronology : Relative and Absolute Dating methods.

(b) Cultural Evolution—Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures : 

(i) Paleolithic 

(ii) Mesolithic 

(iii) Neolithic 

(iv) Chalcolithic 

(v) Copper-Bronze age 

(vi) Iron Age

2.1 The Nature of Culture : The concept and Characteristics of culture and civilization;  Ethnocentrism vis-a-vis cultural Relativism. 

2.2 The Nature of Society : Concept of Society; Society and Culture; Social Institution; Social  groups; and Social stratification. 

2.3 Marriage : Definition and universality; Laws of marriage (endogamy, exogamy, hypergamy,  hypogamy, incest taboo); Type of marriage (monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, group marriage).  Functions of marriage; Marriage regulations (preferential, prescriptive and proscriptive); Marriage  payments (bride wealth and dowry). 

2.4 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. 

2.5 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 Complimentary Filiation;Decent  and Alliance. 

3. Economic Organization : Meaning, scope and relevance of economic anthropology; Formalist and  Substantivist debate; Principles governing 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. 

4. 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. 

5. Religion: 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). 

6. Anthropological theories : 

(a) Classical evolutionism (Tylor, Morgan and Frazer) 

(b) Historical particularism (Boas) Diffusionism (British, German and American) 

(c) Functionalism (Malinowski); Structural—Functionlism (Radcliffe-Brown) 

(d) Structuralism (L’evi-Strauss and E. Leach) 

(e) Culture and personality (Benedict, Mead, Linton, Kardiner and Cora-du Bois) 

(f) Neo-evolutionism (Childe, White, Steward, Sahlins and Service) 

(g) Cultural materialism (Harris) 

(h) Symbolic and interpretive theories (Turner, Schneider and Geertz) 

(i) Cognitive theories (Tyler, Conklin) 

(j) Post-modernism in anthropology. 

7. Culture, Language and Communication :  

Nature, origin and characteristics of language; verbal and non-verbal communication; social contex of language use. 

8. Research methods in Anthropology : 

(a) Fieldwork tradition in anthropology 

(b) Distinction between technique, method and methodology 

(c) Tools of data collection : observation, interview, schedules, questionnaire, case study,  genealogy, life-history, oral history, secondary sources of information, participatory methods. 

(d) Analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. 

9.1 Human Genetics: Methods and Application: Methods for study of genetic principles in man family study (pedigree analysis, twin study, foster child, co-twin method, cytogenetic method,  chromosomal and karyo-type analysis), biochemical methods, immunological methods, D.N.A.  technology and recombinant technologies. 

9.2 Mendelian genetics in man-family study, single factor, multifactor, lethal, sub-lethal and polygenic inheritance in man. 

9.3 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.  

9.4 Chromosomes and chromosomal aberrations in man, methodology. 

(a) Numerical and structural aberrations (disorders). 

(b) Sex chromosomal aberration- Klinefelter (XXY), Turner (XO), Super female (XXX), intersex and other syndromic disorders. 

(c) Autosomal aberrations- Down syndrome, Patau, Edward and Cri-du-chat syndromes. (d) Genetic imprints in human disease, genetic screening, genetic counseling, human DNA  profiling, gene mapping and genome study. 

9.5 Race and racism, biological basis of morphological variation of non-metric and characters. Racial criteria, racial traits in relation to heredity and environment; biological basis of racial  classification, racial differentiation and race crossing in man. 

9.6 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-ecomomic groups. 

9.7 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. 

9.8 Epidemiological Anthropology: Health and disease. Infectious and non-infectious diseases,  Nutritional deficiency-related diseases. 

10. Concept of human growth and Development: Stages of growth—pre-natal, natal, infant,  childhood, adolescence, maturity, senescence.  

—Factors affecting growth and development 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. 

11.1 Relevance of menarche, menopause and other bioevents to fertility. Fertility patterns and differentials. 

11.2 Demographic theories-biological, social and cultural. 

11.3 Biological and socio-ecological factors influencing fecundity, fertility, natality and mortality. 

12. Applications of Anthropology: Anthropology of sports, Nutritional anthropology, Anthroplogy in  designing of defence and other equipments, Forensic Anthroplogy, 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.


1.1 Evolution of the Indian Culture and Civilization—Prehistoric (Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic  and Neolithic-Chalcolithic), Protohistoric (Indus Civilization). Pre-Harappan, Harappan and post Harappan cultures. Contributions of the tribal cultures to Indian civilization. 

1.2 Palaeo—Anthropological evidences from India with special reference to Siwaliks and Narmada  basin (Ramapithecus, Sivapithecus and Narmada Man). 

1.3. Ethno-archaeology in India: The concept of ethno-archaeology; Survivals and Parallels among the  hunting, foraging, fishing, pastoral and peasant communities including arts and crafts producing  communities. 

2. Demographic profile of India—Ethnic and linguistic elements in the Indian population and their  distribution. Indian population—factors influencing its structure and growth.

3.1 The structure and nature of traditional Indian social system—Varnashram, Purushartha, Karma,  Rina and Rebirth.  

3.2 Caste system in India— Structure and characteristics Varna and caste, Theories of origin of caste  system, Dominant caste, Caste mobility, Future of caste system, Jajmani system. Tribe-case  continuum. 

3.3 Sacred Complex and Nature-Man-Spirit Complex. 

3.4. Impact of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity of Indian society.  

4. Emergence, growth and development in India—Contributions of the 18th, 19th and early 20th  Century scholar-administrators. Contributions of Indian anthropologists to tribal and caste  studies.  

5.1 Indian Village—Significane of village study in India; Indian village as a social system; Traditional  and changing patterns of settlement and inter-caste relations; Agrarian relations in Indian villages;  Impact of globalization on Indian villages. 

5.2 Linguistic and religious minorities and their social, political and economic status. 

5.3 Indigenous and exogenous processes of socio-cultural change in Indian society: Sanskritization,  Westernization, Modernization; Inter-play of little and great traditions; Panchayati Raj and social  change; Media and Social change. 

6.1 Tribal situation in India—Bio-genetic variability, linguistic and socio-economic characteristics of  the tribal populations and their distribution.  

6.2 Problems of the tribal Communities—Land alienation, poverty, indebtedness, low literacy, poor  educational facilities, unemployment, under- employment, health and nutrition. 

6.3 Developmental projects and their impact on tribal displacement and problems of rehabilitation.  Development of forest policy and tribals. Impact of urbanisation and industrialization on tribal  populations. 

7.1 Problems of exploitation and deprivation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other  Backward Classes. Constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.  

7.2 Social change and contemporary tribal societies : Impact of modern democratic institutions,  development programmes and welfare measures on tribals and weaker sections.  

7.3 The concept of ethnicity; Ethnic conflicts and political developments; Unrest among tribal communities; Regionalism and demand for autonomy; Pseudo-tribalism. Social change among the tribes during colonial and post-Independent India. 

8.1 Impact of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions on tribal societies. 8.2 Tribe and nation state—a comparative study of tribal communities in India and other countries. 

9.1 History of administration of tribal areas, tribal policies, plans, programmes of tribal development  and their implementation. The concept of PTGs (Primitive Tribal Groups), their distribution, and special programmes for their development. Role of N.G.O.s in tribal development.  

9.2 Role of anthropology in tribal and rural development. 

9.3 Contributions of anthropology to the understanding of regionalism, communalism and ethnic and political movements.

Tips To Prepare Anthropology Syllabus For UPSC 2024

  • Understand the Syllabus: Begin by thoroughly understanding the UPSC Anthropology syllabus. Divide topics into manageable sections to cover systematically.
  • Refer to Standard Books: Consult standard textbooks recommended for anthropology by experts. Some essential books include “Physical Anthropology” by P. Nath and “Indian Anthropology” by Nadeem Hasnain.

  • Current Affairs and Case Studies: Stay updated with recent developments, case studies, and contemporary issues related to anthropology, especially in the Indian context. This adds depth to your understanding.

  • Practice Answer Writing: UPSC exams emphasize comprehensive understanding and concise writing. Practice writing answers, especially focusing on structuring, clarity, and succinctness.

  • Revise and Make Notes: Make concise notes while studying. Regularly revise these notes to retain information effectively. Use visual aids like mind maps or diagrams for better retention.

  • Solve Previous Years’ Papers: Practice solving previous years’ question papers to understand the exam pattern and types of questions asked. This helps in time management during the actual exam.

  • Join Discussion Forums and Groups: Engage in discussions on anthropology-related topics, forums, or groups to exchange ideas, clear doubts, and broaden your perspective.

  • Mock Tests and Time Management: Take regular mock tests to gauge your preparation level and improve time management during the exam.

  • Seek Guidance: Consider enrolling in reputable coaching institutes or seek guidance from experienced mentors to gain insights and strategies for effective preparation.

  • Stay Consistent and Confident: Consistency is key. Maintain a consistent study schedule, stay confident, and believe in your preparation.


Frequently asked questions

What is the anthropology syllabus for UPSC?

Answer: The anthropology syllabus for UPSC covers a wide range of topics, including social and cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, and ar...Read full

How can I prepare for the anthropology section of the UPSC exam?

Answer: To prepare for the anthropology section of the UPSC exam, start by thoroughly understanding the syllabus. Then, gather the recommended book...Read full

Are there any recommended books for UPSC anthropology preparation?

Answer: Yes, there are several recommended books for UPSC anthropology preparation. Some popular ones include “An Introduction to Social Anth...Read full

What are the key areas to focus on in the anthropology syllabus?

Answer: In the anthropology syllabus, it is essential to focus on key areas such as human evolution, biological diversity, tribal and rural societi...Read full

What Does the UPSC Anthropology Syllabus Cover?

Answer: The Anthropology syllabus for UPSC includes topics like social-cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, Indian anthropology, and app...Read full

Is Anthropology Optional for UPSC CSE?

Answer: Yes, Anthropology is one of the optional subjects that candidates can choose for the UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE). It offers a com...Read full

How Can I Prepare for Anthropology in UPSC 2024?

Answer: To prepare for Anthropology in UPSC 2024, you should start by thoroughly understanding the syllabus. Study standard textbooks and reference...Read full

Is Anthropology a Scoring Subject in UPSC CSE?

Answer: Anthropology is considered a scoring subject in UPSC CSE if prepared thoroughly. It offers a good balance between theoretical and practical...Read full