UPSC civil services exam is a highly coveted exam in the country. This exam consists of three levels; mains, prelims, and personal interviews. Candidates are free to choose one optional subject out of the list of 26. Public administration is an optional subject that is popular amongst various candidates. This subject is interconnected with the governance and administration of the nation.

How Can I Prepare Public Administration for UPSC Mains?

Candidates often have a question lingering on their head: What is public administration? Public administration is the study of government policies and their implementations. It comes under the oeuvre of an IAS officer’s job description. The syllabus of this subject revolves around contemporary issues in a country. Let us have a look at the crux of public administration as an optional subject and the strategies to ace it.

Strategies for Preparing the Public Administration Optional Paper

  1. Rather than referring to extensive resources or various books, stick to a minimum of five books and read them thoroughly.
  2. Use analytical words to support your statements. Make sure your sentence follows a logical flow and reflects your intellect.
  3. Make short notes of important topics that are a blessing in your revision.
  4. Have a look at previous year’s question papers and meticulously look for the public administration question types and patterns. This would help you to prepare yourself before giving the actual exam.
  5. Read newspapers, government magazines, and relevant blogs to enhance knowledge. You can refer to newspapers like The Hindu or government magazines like Yojana magazine and many more. This habit is beneficial for your UPSC preparation.

Public Administration Syllabus for Paper-1

  • Introduction to the Subject

Meaning, the significance of public administration and scope, Evolution of the discipline and its present status, Public choice approach, New Public Administration, Wilson’s vision of Public administration, Privatisation, Challenges of Liberalisation, Good governance, Globalisation, New public management, Concept and application.

  • Administrative Thought

Weber’s bureaucratic model, Classical theory, Scientific management and Scientific Management Movement, Classical theory; Dynamic Administration(Mary Parker Follett); It’s a critique and Post Weberian developments; Human Relations school, Participative Management, Simon’s Decision-Making Theory, Functions of the Executive.

  • Administrative Behaviour

Communication Process and Techniques of Decision Making; Motivation Theories-Content, Process and Contemporary, Traditional and Modern, Morale, Theories of Leadership.

  • Organisations

Structure and Forms, Theories-Systems, Contingency, Corporations, Companies Boards and Commissions, Ministries and Departments, Public-private Partnerships, Headquarters and Field Relationships, Regulatory Authorities, Ad Hoc, Advisory Bodies.

  • Accountability and Control 

Legislative, Concepts of Accountability and Control, Citizen and Administration, Executive and Judicial Control over Administration, Interest Groups, Role of Media, Civil Society, Voluntary Organisations, Right to Information, Citizen’s Charters, Social Audit.

  • Administrative Law 

Dicey on administrative law, Meaning, scope and significance, Delegated Legislation, Administrative Tribunals.

  • Comparative Public Administration 

Administration and Politics in Different Countries, Historical and Sociological Factors affecting Administrative Systems, Ecology and Administration Rggision Models and their Critique, Current Status of Comparative Public Administration.

  • Development Dynamics 

Changing profits of development administration, Concept of development, bureaucracy and development, anti-development thesis, strong state versus the market debates, Impact of liberalisation on administration.

  • Personnel Administration

Recruitment training, Importance of Human Resource Development, Career Advancement, Discipline, Position Classification, Promotion, Performance Appraisal, Employer-employee Relations, Pay and Service Conditions, Code of Conduct Administrative Ethics, Grievance Redressal Mechanism.

  • Public Policy

Process of conceptualisation, Models of policy-making and their critique, Monitoring, Planning implementation, State Theories and Public Policy Formulation, Evaluation and Review of their Limitations.

  • Techniques of Administrative Development

Work-Study and Work Management, Organisation and methods, Management Aid Tools like Network Analysis, e-governance and information technology, CPM, PERT, MIS.

  •  Financial Administration

Public Borrowings and Public Debt budgets – Types and Forms, Monetary and Fiscal Policies, Financial Accountability, Budgetary Process, Accounts and Audit.

Public Administration Syllabus for Paper-2.

  • Evolution of Indian Administration

Mughal administration, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Revenue administration, A legacy of British rule in politics and administration – Indianisation of public services, Local self-government, District administration.

  • The Philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government

Constitutionalism, Political culture, Salient features and value premises, Bureaucracy, and Democracy.

  • Public Sector Undertaking

Forms of public sector undertakings, The public sector in modern India, Accountability and control, Impact of liberalisation, Privatisation, Problems of autonomy.

  • Union Government and Administration

Parliament,  Executive, Functions, Judiciary – Structure, Recent trends, Work Processes, Cabinet Secretariat, Intergovernmental relations, Central secretariat, Prime minister’s office, Boards, Ministries and departments, Attached offices, Commissions, Field organisations.

  • State Government and Administration

Legislative and financial relations, Union-state administrative, Governor, The role of the Finance Commission, Council of Ministers, Chief Minister, The State Secretariat, Chief Secretary, Directorates.

  • District Administration since Independence

Union-state local relations, Changing role of the collector, Management and Law and order administration, Imperatives of development, District administration, Democratic Decentralisation.

  • Civil Services

Structure, Constitutional position, Training and capacity building, Recruitment, Initiatives, Good governance, Staff associations, Code of conduct and discipline, Grievance redressal, Political rights, Civil service neutrality, Mechanism, Civil service activism.

  • Financial Management

Parliamentary control of public expenditure, Budget as a political instrument, Accounting techniques, Role of finance ministry in the monetary and Fiscal area, Audit role of controller general of accounts and controller.

  • Administrative Reforms since Independence

Major concerns: problems of implementation, Important committees, and Commission Reforms in financial management and human resource development.

  • Rural Development

Institutions and agencies since independence, rural development programs, foci and strategies, Decentralisation and Panchayati Raj, 73RD constitutional amendment.

  • Urban Local Development

Municipal governance, Structures, Main features,14th constitutional amendment, Finance and problem areas, New localism, Globalised debate, Politics and Administration regarding city management, Development dynamics.

  • Law and Order Administration

British legacy: investigative agencies, National police commission role of central and state agencies, Including parliamentary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency.

  • Significant Issues in Indian Administration

Regulatory commissions, Values in public service, problems of administration in coalition regimes, National human rights commission, Corruption and administration, Citizen administration interface.

Public Administration Book: Which Book to Refer

The books which one can refer to while preparing for public administration subject are

  • New horizons of public administration- Mohit Bhattacharya 
  • Public administration- Fadia and Fadia
  • Public administration- Laxmikant

Stated above are some of the best book recommendations for public administration subjects. There are many more books available which you can look for.


Public administration is the best optional subject for UPSC if prepared smartly. This subject aligns perfectly with the job role and helps you understand government policies. We hope that this article could resolve all your doubts regarding this subject. UPSC pathshala has various blogs and articles that will help you as an aspirant to clear your doubts. UPSC Pathshala provides the topmost faculty of India who are experts in this field. They create visual content for better understanding with a checkpoint test after each module. Visit the site to know more.

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How Can I Prepare Public Administration Relating to Contemporary Issues for UPSC Mains?
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How Can I Prepare Public Administration Relating to Contemporary Issues for UPSC Mains?
Confused about your optional subject, and how will it affect your UPSC preparation? Read to know about the public administration optional paper for UPSC Mains.
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