UPSC English Syllabus

The UPSC has published a list of 48 optional subjects out of which the candidates have to choose one subject for their main exam. The list of optional subjects also includes English literature. As English is a very common language spoken by a lot of people it is quite popular amongst UPSC aspirants. The IAS English Syllabus 2023 consists of topics based on various pieces of English literature. Candidates having a strong background in English and a habit of reading poetry and novel are advised to choose this subject. In this post, we are providing the detailed UPSC English Syllabus for the interested candidates.

UPSC Civil Services English Syllabus

Just like all other optional subjects, English also comprises of two papers. The syllabus for both the papers is different from each other. Let’s go through the topics added in the syllabus of two papers.

UPSC English Literature syllabus optional Paper-I

Candidates are required to show adequate knowledge of the following topics and movements:

The Renaissance, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, Metaphysical Poetry, The Epic and the Mock-epic, Neo-classicism, Satire, The Romantic Movement, The Rise of the Novel, The Victorian Age.

Section – A

  1. William Shakespeare: King Lear and the Tempest.
  2. John Donne. The following poems :
    1. The Good Morrow
    2. Death be not proud
    3. Canonization
    4. The Relic
    5. On his Mistress going to bed
  3. Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock.
  4. John Milton: Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX
  5. William Wordsworth. The following poems
    1. Upon Westminster Bridge
    2. Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
    3. The World is too much with us
    4. Resolution and Independence
    5. Michael
    6. She dwelt among untrodden ways
    7. Three years she grew
    8. Tintern Abbey
    9. Ode on Intimations of Immortality
  6. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House
  7. Alfred Tennyson: In Memoriam.


  1. Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  2. Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
  3. George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss.
  4. Charles Dickens. Hard Times
  5. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.
  6. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.
  7. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels.

English Literature syllabus for UPSC – Paper II

Candidates are required to show adequate knowledge of the following topics and movements:

Modernism, Poets of the Thirties, The stream-of-consciousness Novel, Absurd Drama, Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, Indian Writing in English, Marxist, Psychoanalytical and Feminist approaches to literature, Post-Modernism.

Section – A

  1. William Butler Yeats. The following poems:
    1. Leda and the Swan
    2. Among School Children
    3. The Tower
    4. Sailing to Byzantium
    5. A Prayer for my daughter
    6. The Second Coming
    7. Easter 1916
    8. Byzantium
    9. The Second Coming
    10. Lapis Lazuli
    11. Meru
  2. S. Eliot. The following poems:
    1. Burnt Norton
    2. Journey of the Magi
    3. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
  3. H. Auden. The following poems:
    1. Petition
    2. September 1, 1939
    3. The Shield of Achilles
    4. Mundus Et Infans
    5. Consider
    6. The Unknown Citizen
    7. Lay your sleeping head, my love
    8. In Memory of W.B. Yeats
    9. Musee des Beaux Arts
    10. Partition
  4. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot
  5. John Osborne: Look Back in Anger.
  6. K. Ramanujan. The following poems :
    1. Looking for a Cousin on a Swing
    2. A River
    3. Of Mothers, among other Things
    4. Love Poem for a Wife 1
    5. Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House
    6. Obituary
  7. Philip Larkin. The following poems:
    1. Next
    2. Please
    3. Deceptions
    4. Afternoons
    5. Days
    6. Bleaney

All these poems are available in the anthology Ten Twentieth Century Indian Poets, edited by R. Parthasarthy, published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi).

Literature English

UPSC Syllabus

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