UPSC Zoology Syllabus – Zoology Optional Syllabus PDF for UPSC IAS 2023

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

UPSC Zoology Syllabus covers the list of topics based on cytology, species classification, genetics, etc., that are asked in Papers 1 and 2 in the Mains examination. Zoology is one of the optional subjects that students can opt for in the Mains exam, and there are two papers conducted under this subject for a total of 500 marks. All the topics included in the Zoology Optional Syllabus are related to theoretical and applied zoology. Candidates who have opted for zoology as their optional subject need to cover the complete UPSC Zoology Syllabus before appearing for the exam. Scoring well in this subject will play a major role in uplifting the ranking of the candidates.

Below we have mentioned the complete Zoology Syllabus for UPSC, along with providing a free PDF link, preparation strategy, and recommended books to help the students come up with a strategic approach to prepare the UPSC Zoology syllabus 2023.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus

The Zoology Optional Syllabus would feel relevant to the candidates who have studied this subject in their curriculum. As we have mentioned above, there will be two papers, and below we have listed the topics covered in both papers and the structure of the UPSC zoology syllabus as well.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus Topics in Zoology Optional UPSC
Paper 1 Non-chordata and Chordata, Ecology, Ethology, Economic Zoology, Biostatistics, Instrumentation Methods
Paper 2 Cell Biology, Genetics, Evolution, Systematics, Biochemistry, Physiology (with special reference to mammals), Developmental Biology

Zoology UPSC Syllabus PDF

The UPSC Zoology optional syllabus can be downloaded from the official website of Union Public Service Commission along with the exam notification. As per the 2023 notification, the Mains paper will take place from 15 September 2023 onwards. Candidates are advised to prepare for Prelims and Mains simultaneously; otherwise, after clearing the Prelims exam, they will have very less time to cover the Mains syllabus. Here, we have given the direct link to download the UPSC Zoology optional syllabus PDF for free.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus PDF

It is recommended to keep the UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus PDF handy while preparing for the exam as it ensures that all the topics are covered comprehensively and helps you manage your time accordingly. Candidates preparing for the UPSC exam in Hindi can also download UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus PDF in Hindi. Also, check the following table to have a quick overview of the syllabus.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus 2023 Overview
Mode of Exam Offline (Paper and Pen mode)
Exam Conducting Authority Union Public Service Commission
Number of Papers 2 (Paper 1 and 2)
Number of Questions 5 in each paper
Maximum Marks 250 marks for each
Language Hindi and English only
Maximum Time 3 hours for each paper

UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus Paper 1

Paper 1 of the UPSC zoology syllabus includes topics, namely Non-Chordata and Chordata, Ecology, Ethology, Economic Zoology, and Biostatistics. These topics are further divided into various subtopics, which are shown below.

Non-Chordata and Chordata:

  • Classification and relationship of various phyla up to subclasses: Acoelomate and Coelomate, Protostomes and Deuterostomes, Bilateria, and Radiata; Status of Protista, Parazoa, Onychophora, and Hemichordata; Symmetry.
  • Protozoa: Locomotion, nutrition, reproduction, sex; General features and life history of Paramaecium, Monocystis, Plasmodium, and Leishmania.
  • Porifera: Skeleton, canal system, and reproduction.
  • Cnidaria: Polymorphism, defensive structures and their mechanism; coral reefs and their formation; metagenesis; general features and life history of Obelia and Aurelia.
  • Platyhelminthes: Parasitic adaptation; general features and life history of Fasciola and Taenia and their pathogenic symptoms.
  • Nemathelminthes: General features, life history, the parasitic adaptation of Ascaris and Wuchereria.
  • Annelida: Coelom and metamerism; modes of life in polychaetes; general features and life history of Nereis, earthworm, and leach.
  • Arthropoda: Larval forms and parasitism in Crustacea; vision and respiration in arthropods (Prawn, cockroach, and scorpion); modification of mouth parts in insects (cockroach, mosquito, housefly, honey bee, and butterfly); metamorphosis in insect and its hormonal regulation, the social behavior of Apis and termites.
  • Mollusca: Feeding, respiration, locomotion, general features and life history of Lamellidens, Pila, and Sepia, torsion, and detorsion in gastropods.
  • Echinodermata: Feeding, respiration, locomotion, larval forms, general features, and life history of Asterias.
  • Protochordata: Origin of chordates; general features and life history of Branchiostoma and Herdmania.
  • Pisces: Respiration, locomotion, and migration.
  • Amphibia: Origin of tetrapods, parental care, paedomorphosis.
  • Reptilia; Origin of reptiles, skull types, the status of Sphenodon and crocodiles.
  • Aves: Origin of birds, flight adaptation, migration.
  • Mammalia: Origin of mammals, dentition, general features of egg-laying mammals, pouched-mammals, aquatic mammals and primates, endocrine glands (pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, gonads) and their interrelationships.
  • Comparative functional anatomy of various systems of vertebrates (integument and its derivatives, endoskeleton, locomotory organs, digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system including heart and aortic arches, urinogenital system, brain and sense organs (eye and ear).


  • Biosphere: Concept of biosphere; biomes, Biogeochemical cycles, Human induced changes in atmosphere including the greenhouse effect, ecological succession, biomes and ecotones, community ecology
  • Concept of ecosystem; structure, and function of ecosystem, types of ecosystem, ecological succession, ecological adaptation
  • Population; characteristics, population dynamics, population stabilization
  • Biodiversity and diversity conservation of natural resources
  • Wildlife of India
  • Remote sensing for sustainable development
  • Environmental biodegradation, pollution, and its impact on the biosphere and its prevention


  • Behavior: Sensory filtering, responsiveness, sign stimuli, learning and memory, instinct, habituation, conditioning, imprinting
  • Role of hormones in drive; the role of pheromones in alarm spreading; crypsis, predator detection, predator tactics, social hierarchies in primates, social organization in insects
  • Orientation, navigation, homing, biological rhythms, biological clock, tidal, seasonal, and circadian rhythms
  • Methods of studying animal behavior include sexual conflict, selfishness, kinship, and altruism

Economic Zoology:

  • Apiculture, sericulture, lac culture, carp culture, pearl culture, prawn culture, vermiculture
  • Major infectious and communicable diseases (malaria, filaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and AIDS) their vectors, pathogens, and prevention
  • Cattle and livestock diseases, their pathogen (helminths), and vectors (ticks, mites, Tabanus, Stomoxys)
  • Pests of sugar cane (Pyrilla perpusiella) oil seed (Achaea janata) and rice (Sitophilus oryzae)
  • Transgenic animals
  • Medical biotechnology, human genetic disease, genetic counseling, gene therapy.
  • Forensic biotechnology

Biostatistics: Designing of experiments; null hypothesis; correlation, regression, distribution and measure of central tendency, chi-square, student-test, F-test (one-way & two-way F-test).

Instrumentation Methods:

  • Spectrophotometer, phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy, radioactive tracer, ultra centrifuge, gel electrophoresis, PCR, ELISA, FISH, and chromosome painting.
  • Electron microscopy (TEM, SEM).

Zoology Optional Syllabus for Paper 2

The UPSC zoology syllabus for Paper 2 is divided into 7 major topics, which are cell biology, evolution, genetics, biochemistry, systematics, developmental biology, and physiology. And then, multiple subtopics are covered under each of these areas, which must be studied carefully by the aspirants.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus for Paper 2
Topics Concepts
Cell Biology (a) Structure and function of the cell and its organelles (nucleus, plasma membrane, mitochondria, Golgi Bodies, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, and lysosomes), cell division (mitosis and meiosis), mitotic spindle and mitotic apparatus, chromosome movements, chromosome type polytene and lampbrush, organization of chromatin, heterochromatin, Cell cycle regulation

(b) Nucleic acid topology, DNA motif, DNA replication, transcription, RNA processing, translation, protein folding, and transport

Genetics (a) Modern concept of the gene, split gene, genetic regulation, genetic code.

(b) Sex chromosomes and their evolution, sex determination in Drosophila and man.

(c) Mendel’s laws of inheritance, recombination, linkage, multiple alleles, genetics of blood groups, pedigree analysis, and hereditary diseases in man.

(d) Mutations and mutagenesis.

(e) Recombinant DNA technology; plasmid, cosmid, artificial chromosomes as vectors, transgenic, DNA cloning, and whole animal cloning (principles and methods).

(f) Gene regulation and expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

(g) Signal molecules, cell death, defects in the signaling pathway, and consequences.

(h) RFLP, RAPD, and AFLP and application of RFLP in DNA finger printing, ribozyme technologies, human genome project, genomics, and proteomics.

Evolution – Theories of origin of life

– Theories of evolution; Natural selection, the role of mutations in evolution, evolutionary patterns, molecular drive, mimicry, variation, isolation, and speciation

– Evolution of horse, elephant, and man using fossil data

– Hardy-Weinberg Law

– Continental drift and distribution of animals

Systematics Zoological nomenclature, international code, cladistics, molecular taxonomy, and biodiversity
Biochemistry – Structure and role of carbohydrates, fats, fatty acids, and cholesterol, proteins, and amino-acids, nucleic acids. Bioenergetics

– Glycolysis and Kreb cycle, oxidation and reduction, oxidative phosphorylation, energy conservation and release, ATP cycle, cyclic AMP – its structure and role

– Hormone classification (steroid and peptide hormones), biosynthesis and functions

– Enzymes: types and mechanisms of action

– Vitamins and coenzymes

– Immunoglobulin and immunity

Physiology (with special reference to mammals) (a) Composition and constituents of blood; blood groups and Rh factor in man, factors, and mechanism of coagulation, iron metabolism, acid-base balance, thermo-regulation, anticoagulants.

(b) Haemoglobin: Composition, types, and role in the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

(c) Digestion and absorption: Role of salivary glands, liver, pancreas, and intestinal glands.

(d) Excretion: nephron and regulation of urine formation; osmoregulation and excretory product

(e) Muscles: Types, mechanism of contraction of skeletal muscles, effects of exercise on muscles.

(f) Neuron: nerve impulse – its conduction and synaptic transmission, neurotransmitters.

(g) Vision, hearing, and olfaction in man.

(h) Physiology of reproduction, puberty, and menopause in humans.

Developmental Biology – Gametogenesis; spermatogenesis, the composition of semen, in vitro and in vivo capacitation of mammalian sperm, Oogenesis, totipotency; fertilization, morphogenesis and morphogen, blastogenesis, the establishment of body axes formation, fate map, gastrulation in frog and chick; genes in development in chick, homeotic genes, development of eye and heart, placenta in mammals

– Cell lineage, cell-to-cell interaction, Genetic and induced teratogenesis, the role of thyroxine in control of metamorphosis in amphibia, paedogenesis and neoteny, cell death, aging

– Developmental genes in man, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, cloning

– Stem cells: Sources, types and their use in human welfare

– Biogenetic law

How to Prepare Zoology Syllabus for UPSC?

UPSC zoology syllabus can be covered efficiently if studied with a constructive approach. Most of the topics from zoology optional are easy to comprehend. Let’s have a look at what should be the preparation strategy to cover the UPSC zoology optional syllabus with proper and efficient time management and practice.

  • This first step to ace this exam on the first attempt requires a thorough understanding of the Zoology Syllabus for UPSC.
  • Don’t forget to glance through UPSC previous year question papers, as it will help you to understand the exam in-depth.
  • The next step towards scoring high in this subject is to acquire basic books of zoology. It will help you to build a strong foundation of the topics included in the UPSC zoology syllabus.
  • You must practice diagrams as it plays an important role in this subject. So practice as must as possible.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus and Pattern

It is vital to go through the paper pattern of the UPSC Zoology along with the syllabus to prepare for it in the best possible way. From the UPSC Zoology syllabus and exam pattern, candidates can learn about the total marks and maximum time given to attempt each paper.

UPSC Zoology Syllabus and Exam Pattern
Paper Subject Allotted Time Total Marks
Paper VI Zoology Optional Paper 1 3 hours 250
Paper VII Zoology Optional Paper 2 3 hours 250
Marks 500

Best Books for Zoology UPSC Syllabus

Candidates can build a strong base by following these books for the UPSC zoology syllabus:

  • Modern Zoology by Ramesh Gupta
  • Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry – David Nelson, Michael Cox
  • An Introduction to Embryology by AK Berry
  • Ecology And Environment by PD Sharma
  • Applied And Economic Zoology by VB Upadhyay and GS Shukla
  • Animal Behaviour by Reena Mathur
  • Modern Textbook Of Zoology: Vertebrates by RL Kotpal
  • Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry – David Nelson, Michael Cox
  • An Introduction to Embryology by AK Berry
  • Ecology And Environment by PD Sharma
  • Applied And Economic Zoology by VB Upadhyay and GS Shukla

To get the complete list of Zoology books for UPSC, click on the link shared here.

Points to Remember while Studying UPSC Zoology Optional Syllabus

Some important points that candidates should keep in mind while studying the UPSC Zoology syllabus are as follows:

  • Go through the previous year’s papers quickly to understand the important topics from the Zoology optional syllabus.
  • Remember all important policies, summits, conventions, etc related to the Zoology topics that you can add in your answers to make them specific and to the point.
  • Make diagrams and bullets wherever necessary.
  • The flow of the answer should be structured. Therefore, after studying the Zoology syllabus for UPSC, aspirants must practice answer writing skills from the previous year’s questions.
List of UPSC Optional Subjects Syllabus:
UPSC Physics Optional Syllabus UPSC Commerce and Accountancy Syllabus
UPSC Agriculture Syllabus UPSC Electrical Engineering Syllabus
UPSC Mechanical Engineering Syllabus UPSC English Literature Syllabus
UPSC Public Administration Syllabus UPSC Maths Syllabus
UPSC Psychology Syllabus UPSC Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Syllabus
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