Public Administration is a popular optional subject of UPSC Mains among IAS exam candidates. Are you also thinking of taking this subject? The subject is easy to understand and is very much similar to your General Studies This is why more and more people are choosing Public Administration as an optional subject. Read the article till the end to know the Public Administration syllabus for UPSC.

Public Administration Syllabus for UPSC

As all of us know there are two papers for the optional subject in Mains. Thus the Public administration optional syllabus can be divided into two sections.

  • Paper-I syllabus (Administrative Theory)
  • Paper-II syllabus (Indian Administration)

Paper-I Syllabus

The questions in this paper are on Administrative Theory. The contents of Administrative Theory are:

1. Introduction

Meaning, scope and significance of Public Administration; Wilson’s vision of Public Administration; Evolution of the discipline and its present status; New Public Administration; Public Choice approach; Challenges of liberalization, Privatization, Globalization; Good Governance: concept and application; New Public Management.

2. Administrative Thought

Scientific Management and Scientific Management movement; Classical Theory; Weber’s bureaucratic model – its critique and post-Weberian Developments; Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett); Human Relations School (Elton Mayo and others); Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard); Simon’s decision-making theory; Participative Management (R. Likert, C. Argyris, D. McGregor).

3. Administrative Behavior

Process and techniques of decision-making; Communication; Morale; Motivation Theories – content, process and contemporary; Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern.

4. Organizations

Theories – systems, contingency; Structure and forms: Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies, Boards and Commissions; Ad hoc and advisory bodies; Headquarters and Field relationships; Regulatory Authorities; Public-Private Partnerships.

5. Accountability and Control

Concepts of accountability and control; Legislative, Executive and Judicial control over administration; Citizen and Administration; Role of media, interest groups, voluntary organizations; Civil society; Citizen’s Charters; Right to Information; Social audit.

Also Read: A Detailed Guide to Choosing the Best Optional Subject for UPSC Exam

Paper-I Syllabus

  1. Administrative Law:
    Meaning, scope, and significance; Dicey on Administrative law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals.
  2.  Comparative Public Administration:
    Historical and sociological factors affecting administrative systems; Administration and politics in different countries; status of Comparative Public Administration; Ecology and administration; Riggsian models and their critique.
  3. Development Dynamics:
    Concept of development; Changing profile of development administration; ‘Anti Development thesis’; Bureaucracy and development; Strong state versus the market debate; Impact of liberalization on administration in developing countries; Women and development – the self-help group movement.
4. Personnel Administration:

Importance of human resource development; Recruitment, training, career advancement, position classification, discipline, performance appraisal, promotion, pay and service conditions; employer-employee relations, grievance redressal mechanism; Code of conduct; Administrative ethics.

  1. Public Policy:
    Models of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualization, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review and their limitations; State theories and public policy formulation.
  2. Techniques of Administrative Improvement:
    Organization and methods, Work study and work management; e-governance and information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.
  3. Financial Administration:
    Monetary and fiscal policies; Public borrowings and public debt Budgets – types and forms; Budgetary process; Financial accountability; Accounts and audit.

Paper-II Syllabus

The questions in this paper are based on Indian Administration. The contents of the Indian Administration are:

  1. Evolution of Indian Administration:
    Kautilya’s Arthashastra; Mughal administration; Legacy of British rule in politics and administration – Indianization of public services, revenue administration, district administration, local self-government.
  2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government:
    Salient features and value premises; Constitutionalism; Political culture; Bureaucracy and democracy; Bureaucracy and development.
  3. Public Sector Undertakings:
    The public sector in modern India; Forms of Public Sector Undertakings; Problems of autonomy, accountability, and control; Impact of liberalization and privatization.
  4. Union Government and Administration:
    Executive, Parliament, Judiciary – structure, functions, work processes; Recent trends; Intergovernmental relations; Cabinet Secretariat; Prime Minister’s Office; Central Secretariat; Ministries and Departments; Boards; Commissions; Attached offices; Field organizations.
5. Plans and Priorities:

Machinery of planning; Role, composition, and functions of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council; ‘Indicative’ planning; Process of plan formulation at Union and State levels; Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice.

  1.   State Government and Administration:

Union-State administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates.

  1.   District Administration since Independence:
    Changing role of the Collector; Union state-local relations; Imperatives of development management and law and order administration; District administration and democratic decentralization.

Paper-II Syllabus Continued

  1. Civil Services:

Constitutional position; Structure, recruitment, training and capacity-building; Good governance initiatives; Code of conduct and discipline; Staff associations; Political rights; Grievance redressal mechanism; Civil service neutrality; Civil service activism.

9. Financial Management:

Budget as a political instrument; Parliamentary control of public expenditure; Role of finance ministry in the monetary and fiscal area; Accounting techniques; Audit; Role of Controller General of Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

  1. Administrative Reforms since Independence:
    Major concerns; Important Committees and Commissions; Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation.
  1. Rural Development:
    Institutions and agencies since independence; Rural development programs: foci and strategies; Decentralization and Panchayati Raj; 73rd Constitutional amendment.
  2. Urban Local Government:
    Municipal governance: main features, structures, finance and problem areas; 74th Constitutional Amendment; Global local debate; New localism; Development dynamics, politics, and administration with special reference to city management.
  3. Law and Order Administration:
    British legacy; National Police Commission; Investigative agencies; Role of central and state agencies including paramilitary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency and terrorism; Criminalization of politics and administration; Police-public relations; Reforms in Police.
  4. Significant issues in Indian Administration:
    Values in public service; Regulatory Commissions; National Human Rights Commission; Problems of administration in coalition regimes; Citizen-administration interface; Corruption and administration; Disaster management.

Public Administration Optional Books

The books to refer for this subject are:

  • Public Administration – Laxmikanth
  • New Horizons Of Public Administration – Mohit Bhattacharya
  • Administrative Thinkers – D. Ravindra Prasad
  • Contemporary Debates in Public Administration – Dhameja Alka 
  • Indian Administration – Maheswari
  • Introduction to the constitution of India – D.D.Basu
  • Important Judgments that Transformed India – Alex Andrews George
  • Public Administration: Concepts And Theories – Rumki Basu
  • A Dictionary of Public Administration – Maheswari
  • Indian Administration – Pankaj Singh
  • Public Administration: Theory And Practice
  • Governance in India for UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination – Laxmikanth

Also Read: Strategy and Syllabus for Geography Optional UPSC

Public Administration Question Papers

Here is some previous question paper for Public Administration:

For the year 2019

For the year 2018

For the year 2017


Public Administration optional is one of the most chosen optional subjects among the candidates. This is because the subject is easy to score in comparison with other subjects. The subject syllabus is also closely related to general studies.

Also Read : How to Prepare for IAS after 10th? Which Group is Best after 10th for IAS?

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Public Administration Optional Syllabus: Most Preferred Optional among UPSC Aspirants
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Public Administration Optional Syllabus: Most Preferred Optional among UPSC Aspirants
Preparing for the UPSC exam? Click here to know why to choose Public Administration optional. Get information on the Public Administration syllabus, reference books, and previous year question paper.
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