UPSC Anthropology Optional Syllabus

anthropology optional syllabus paper

In this article, we will delve into the UPSC Anthropology optional syllabus, offering you a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through this subject effectively.

Welcome to Rau’s IAS, where we are committed to providing you with the best resources and guidance to excel in the UPSC Civil Services Examination. One of the crucial decisions you’ll make in your UPSC journey is choosing the right optional subject. Anthropology, the study of human societies, cultures, and behaviors, is an excellent choice for aspirants looking to gain a deeper understanding of human evolution and societies.

Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC Optional (Paper-I)

Paper 1 – Anthropology
1.1Meaning, scope, and development of Anthropology.
1.2Relationship with other disciplines: History, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Life Science, Medical Science.
1.3Main branches of Anthropology, their scope, and relevance:
– Social-cultural Anthropology.
– Biological Anthropology.
– Archaeological Anthropology.
– Linguistic Anthropology.
1.4Human 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).
1.5Characteristics 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.
1.6Phylogenetic status, characteristics and geographical distribution of the following:
– Plio-preleistocene hominids in South and East Africa – AustralopithHomo 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 Chancelede.
1.7The biological basis of life: The Cell, DNA structure and replication, Protein Synthesis, Gene, Mutation, Chromosomes, and Cell Division.
1.8a) Principles of Prehistoric Archaeology. Chronology: Relative and Absolute Dating methods.
b) Cultural Evolution- Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures:
– Paleolithic
– Mesolithic
– Neolithic
– Chalcolithic
– Copper-Bronze Age
– Iron Age
2.1The Nature of Culture: 
The concept and characteristics of culture and civilization; Ethnocentrism vis-à-vis cultural Relativism
2.2The Nature of Society: 
Concept of Society; Society and Culture; Social Institutions; Social groups; Social stratification.
2.3Marriage: 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).
2.4Family: 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.
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; Descent and Alliance.
3Economic 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.
4Political organization and Social Control:Band, tribe, chiefdom, kingdom and state; concepts of power, authority and legitimacy; social control, law, and justice in simple societies
5Religion: 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:
– Classical evolutionism (Tylor, Morgan, and Frazer)
– Historical particularism (Boas); Diffusionism (British, German and American)
– Functionalism (Malinowski); Structural- functionlism (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)
– Post- modernism in anthropology
7. Culture, language and communication: Nature, origin and characteristics of language; verbal and non-verbal communication; social context of language use.
8. Research methods in anthropology:
– Fieldwork tradition in anthropology
– 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.
9.1Human 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.
9.2Mendelian genetics in man-family study 
single factor, multifactor, lethal, sub-lethal and polygenic inheritance in man.
9.3Concept 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.
9.4Chromosomes 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 counseling, human DNA profiling, gene mapping and genome study.
9.5Race and racism: The 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.
9.6a) Age, sex and population variation as genetic marker- ABO, Rh blood groups, HLA Hp, transferring, Gm, blood enzymes.
b) Physiological characteristics-Hb level, body fat, pulse rate, respiratory functions and sensory perceptions in different cultural and socio-economic groups.
9.7Concepts 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.
9.8Epidemiological 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.
11.1Relevance of menarche, menopause and other bioevents to fertility. Fertility patterns and differentials.
11.2Demographic theories- biological, social and cultural.
11.3Biological and socio-ecological factors influencing fecundity, fertility, natality and mortality.
12Applications of Anthropology:Anthropology of sports, Nutritional anthropology, Anthropology in designing of defence and other equipments, Forensic Anthropology, Methods and principles of personal identification and reconstruction, Applied human genetics Paternity diagnosis, genetic counseling and eugenics, DNA technology in diseases and medicine, serogenetics and cytogenetics in reproductive biology.

Introduction to Social-Cultural Anthropology: This section sets the foundation by exploring the meaning and scope of social-cultural anthropology. It introduces the main branches of anthropology, including social-cultural, biological, archaeological, and linguistic anthropology.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship: This part delves into the diverse forms of marriage, family types, and structures. Additionally, it covers the complex systems of kinship that form the backbone of social organization.

Economic Systems and Organization: Here, you’ll gain insights into the various modes of livelihood that different societies employ. It also delves into the economic systems found in both tribal and non-tribal societies.

Political Systems and Organization: This section examines the political structures and systems that govern societies, whether tribal or non-tribal. It also delves into the realms of law and justice.

Religion and Magic: This segment explores the rich tapestry of religious beliefs, practices, rituals, and ceremonies that shape cultures and societies.

Language and Culture: Understanding the relationship between language and culture is crucial in anthropology. This section delves into language families in India and the integration of cultural diversity.

Societal Change and Development: Theories of social change are examined, alongside the developmental challenges and strategies that societies face.

Anthropology Syllabus for UPSC Optional (Paper-II)

Paper 2 – Anthropology
1.1Evolution 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 tribal cultures to Indian civilization.
Anthropological evidences from India with special reference to Siwaliks and Narmada basin (Ramapithecus, Sivapithecus and Narmada Man).
1.3Ethno-archaeology in India: 
The concept of ethnoarchaeology; 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.
3.1The structure and nature of the traditional Indian social system Varnashram, Purushartha, Karma, Rina and Rebirth.
3.2Caste 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- caste continuum.
3.3Sacred Complex and Nature 
ManSpirit Complex.
3.4Impact of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity on Indian society.
4.Emergence and growth of anthropology in India-Contributions of the 18th, 19th and early 20th Century scholar-administrators. Contributions of Indian anthropologists to tribal and caste studies.
5. 1Indian Village: Significance 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.
5.2Linguistic and religious minorities and their social, political and economic status.
5.3Indigenous 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.
6.1Tribal situation in India 
Bio-genetic variability, linguistic and socio-economic characteristics of tribal populations and their distribution.
6.2Problems of the tribal Communities 
land alienation, poverty, indebtedness, low literacy, poor educational facilities, unemployment, underemployment, health and nutrition.
6.3Developmental projects and their impact on tribal displacement 
problems of rehabilitation. Development of forest policy and tribals. Impact of urbanization and industrialization on tribal populations.
7.1Problems of exploitation and deprivation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. 
Constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.
7.2Social change and contemporary tribal societies: 
Impact of modern democratic institutions, development programmes and welfare measures on tribals and weaker sections.
7.3The 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.
8.1Impact of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions on tribal societies.
8.2Tribe and nation state – a comparative study of tribal communities in India and other countries.
9.1History of administration of tribal areas, tribal policies, plans, programmes of tribal development and their implementation.
The concept of PTGs (Primitive Tribal Groups), their distribution, special programmes for their development. Role of N.G.O.s in tribal development.
9.2Role of anthropology in tribal and rural development.
9.3Contributions of anthropology to the understanding of regionalism, communalism, and ethnic and political movements.

Paper II of the Anthropology optional syllabus focuses on the biological and evolutionary aspects of anthropology, complemented by a comprehensive exploration of Indian anthropology.

  • Theories of Evolution: This section introduces key theories that underpin the study of human evolution. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, which emphasizes the role of natural processes in shaping species over time, is a cornerstone. The Synthetic Theory of Evolution combines various principles to provide a comprehensive understanding of how life has evolved on Earth.
  • Human Genetics: Understanding genetics is crucial in anthropology. This section delves into Mendelian Inheritance, which explores how traits are passed down through generations. Additionally, it covers Chromosomal Aberrations, which are variations in chromosome structure or number that can lead to genetic disorders. A thorough grasp of these concepts is essential for comprehending human diversity.
  • Primates and Human Evolution: This topic examines our closest biological relatives: primates. It explores the biological and behavioral characteristics of these creatures, shedding light on the shared ancestry between humans and other primates. Additionally, the study of hominid fossils and their significance provides valuable insights into our evolutionary journey.
  • Human Variations and Adaptations: This section explores the concept of human variability. It covers racial classification, which involves categorizing humans based on physical traits, and delves into the biological basis of racial differentiation. Additionally, it addresses human growth and development, offering insights into the factors influencing our physical maturation.
  • Paleoanthropology: This area focuses on the study of early hominids, our ancestors from millions of years ago. It examines their characteristics, behaviors, and the tools they used. Understanding early hominids provides crucial context for comprehending the beginnings of human civilization.
  • Indian Anthropology: This section shifts the focus to the Indian subcontinent, offering a comprehensive examination of anthropological themes specific to India. It encompasses various facets, including:

Anthropology is a fascinating optional subject that not only enhances your understanding of human societies but also equips you with critical analytical skills.

At Rau’s IAS, we are committed to providing you with the best resources and guidance to excel in this subject. We believe that consistency and practice are the keys to success in mastering the UPSC Anthropology Optional Syllabus.

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