Environment Syllabus for UPSC – Environment and Ecology Syllabus for UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Environment Syllabus for UPSC: The official notification of the detailed UPSC Environmental Science 2023 Syllabus is released by the Union Public Service Commission. The environment section is covered in both Prelims and GS Paper-3 of the UPSC Mains Syllabus. The weightage of the Environment part has been known to rise with the change in format since 2011, one of the reasons is the inclusion of Indian Forest Services (IFoS) to increase worldwide environmental concern.

Aspirants must cover the Environment Syllabus for UPSC well since it is observed that approximately 12-28 questions are asked in the UPSC Prelims exam from this section every year. Secondly, the Environment subject is essential to study as it is closely related to UPSC Current Affairs. Here, in this article, we will introduce an in-depth UPSC Environment and Ecology syllabus, best-recommended textbooks to study, and exam preparation tips shared by experts.

Environment Syllabus for UPSC

Climate change and global warming issues have become the most prominent problems of the 21st century, thus, potential administrators should have a detailed understanding of this area, so that they are competent to apply their proficiency in the policymaking cycle.

The table illustrates a brief summary of the Environment Syllabus for UPSC Prelims and Mains. During last-minute practice, aspirants can revise these broad topics to cover the lengthy syllabus in a limited period of time.

UPSC Prelims General issues on Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Environmental Ecology, – that do not need topic specialization in General Science
UPSC Mains Paper-IV GS-III 250 Marks (Technology, Economic Development, Security and Disaster Management, Biodiversity, Environment)

Environment and Ecology UPSC Syllabus PDF

Students preparing for the UPSC exam must keep Environment Syllabus for UPSC PDF handy for future reference and practice. You must download the PDFs subject-wise so that it becomes easier to revise everything conveniently and on time.

Environment Syllabus for UPSC PDF

The PDF will be beneficial for you to cover the Environment syllabus well. Since a lot of questions are asked in the exam from this section, make sure you study the topics carefully and perform the final revision using the PDF.

Environment UPSC Syllabus: Overview

Your Initial preparation for the UPSC exam must begin with a meticulous knowledge of the Environment Syllabus for UPSC. Have a look at the elaborated syllabus categorized in the table below.

Topics Sub-Topics
Environment and Ecology Basic Understandings:

Properties, Components of Ecosystem

Levels of Organism;

Categories, Components, and Features of Environment;

Biotic and Abiotic Factors

Biogeochemical Cycles:

Nutrient Cycle;

Sedimentary Cycle;

Gaseous Cycle

Types of Ecosystems:

Ecosystem Conservation;

Changes in the Ecosystem;

Terrestrial Ecosystem, Aquatic Ecosystem


Air pollution, Noise Pollution, Plastics Pollution, Radioactive Pollution, Soil Pollution, Thermal Pollution, Water pollution

Land Degradation:

Soil Conservation, Problems due to Excessive Irrigation, Soil Erosion;

Sustainable Land Management, Desertification;

Causes and Impact of Land Degradation

Waste Management:

Biomedical Waste;

e-waste Management;

Hazardous Waste;

Solid Waste Management

Environmental Impact Assessment:

Need for EIA, EIA Cycle and procedure

Biodiversity Basic Understandings:

Loss of Biodiversity and its causes;

Levels of Biodiversity, Importance of Biodiversity, Measurement of Biodiversity

Biodiversity Conservation:

Conservation Tools;

Conservation Strategies;

Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs);

In-situ methods, Ex-situ Methods;

IUCN and IUCN Red List

Indian Biodiversity:

Flora and Fauna Diversity, Indian Wildlife;

Indian Bio-Geographical Classification

Threatened Species of India:

Critically Endangered Species of India;

IUCN Red Data Book Categories

Other Biodiversity-Related Topics:

Biodiversity Conservation Efforts in India;

Biodiversity Laws, Policies, and Programmes;

Biodiversity Convention and Protocols

Climate Change Basic Understandings:

Greenhouse Gases and Green House Effects;

Global warming and its Potential;

Ozone depletion;

Ocean Acidification

India and Climate Change:

Mitigation Strategies;

Climate Change in India

Climate Change Organizations:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;

UNFCCC and its mechanism;

Kyoto Protocol (2nd Commitment);

IPCC Reports;

Conference of Parties

Other Related Topics Different Environmental Institutions and their measures;

Environmental Organizations;

Environment Issues and health effects;

International Organizations and Conventions;

Important Acts and Policies

Environment Syllabus for UPSC Prelims: Weightage

The importance of the Environment topic is that it comprises around 25-30% of the GS paper 1. You can observe more questions from this section in the UPSC Prelims exam. Following are the number of questions asked from the Environment Syllabus for UPSC Prelims over the last ten years (2012-2021).

Year Number of Questions Asked in Prelims
2021 15
2020 10
2019 11
2018 13
2017 15
2016 18
2015 11
2014 18
2013 17
2012 17


How to Prepare Environment Syllabus for UPSC?

The main issue with the Environment topic is that there is no specified Environment Syllabus for UPSC as in the case of Geography and History. Like other standard subjects, there is no time-tested book for this section.

  • Study Biology Class XII NCERT Book: The final 4 chapters from Biology NCERT Class XII encloses all the introductory and basic level concepts precisely. Hence, reading this book would familiarize you with the major terminologies from an exam point of view.
  • Solve PYQs: UPSC Question Papers will provide you with a rudimentary insight into the difficulty level of the questions asked and will assist you in picking your resources very wisely.
  • Go Through the Syllabus: Scan and analyze the entire environment and ecology syllabus for UPSC and attempt to learn significant topics so as to map them in your memory. You will be able to filter out unnecessary study material and keep your preparation engrossed.
  • Learn Current Affairs for UPSC: Current affairs is considered the most critical area with reference to Environment topics. Read and compose UPSC notes from the Hindu editorials and from the best magazines like Kurukshetra and Yojana reports. Subsequently, keep revising self-written notes to cling to the theories and concepts.

Booklist to Cover Environment Syllabus for UPSC

To comprehensively prepare the Environment topic for UPSC CS preparation, it is crucial to refer to the best and limited study materials available. A few reliable sources to cover Environment Syllabus for UPSC Prelims and Mains are as follows:

  • National and International Issues from Yojana Magazine and Hindu Newspaper
  • Environmental Studies – Benny Joseph
  • Certificate Physical & Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong (Second Half of the Book)
  • Environmental Studies Textbook by Erach Barucha
  • Down to Earth and Science Reporter
  • NCERT Class XII Biology
  • ICSE books – Class 10th and 11th
  • P.D. Sharma for Ecology & Environment
  • The chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey
  • India Year Book (Chapters on Environment).
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