Anthropology Optional

How to prepare Anthropology optional for UPSC?

 The most significant answer about anthropology as an optional subject can be answered by looking at below parameters:

  1. Scoring subject

It is always advisable to choose an optional which is scoring in nature. Most probably a theoretical subject who has limited subject and a deeper understanding of every topic can fetch you marks easily. Anthropology has limited syllabus which makes it one of the most scoring optional subject.

Moreover there are optional subjects who have huge syllabus and it creates a difficulty for the candidates how to cover such a large amount of syllabus in a particular span of time. Therefore it’s always better to choose an optional subject in which you are confident enough that you can gain marks easily and prepare well to cover every kind of topic of the given subject.

  1. Most popular subject

The most popular subject implies that this particular subject is chosen by most of the candidates hence it can be preferred by others as well. This implies that popular subjects can be opted in order to clear the exam with flying colours. Though popular choice may not be always be right but in the case of IAS main exam we can safely rely on the popular choice. Anthropology is the most popular subject which is chosen by most of the IAS aspirants.

It is because the choice of the candidates who have successfully cleared the exam matters and is a guiding light for other aspirants of IAS Examination. There are candidates who have given IAS exam twice or thrice or more than that tend to have more experience in choosing the right optional subject. So there choice about optional subject is the wise one.

  1. Easy to understand and interesting subject

Anthropology is one of the most interesting and easy to understand optional subject. It is better to opt for an optional subject which is of your interest because in that particular subject your interest is already there so you need not to generate it. This also helps in proper understanding of the subject.

In addition to this, choose a subject which can be easily comprehended and understood. This will help to boost your score in the main exam.

Think about a situation when you tend to choose a subject which you are unable to understand. It will render you chaos and trouble and will lead to wastage of time, energy and creates an inferiority complex in the mind of the candidates.

So it’s always better to choose an optional subject which has easy to understand language. In addition to this if the optional subject is interesting; it will excite and make you feel curious. This interesting optional subject will never bore and you will be better able to absorb the syllabus of the subject.

  1. Availability of notes and study material

Choose a subject which has study material readily available. If the study material for a particular optional subject is in abundance then you can easily access it and study well. Whereas if you choose an optional subject on which there are less study resources then this will hinder your preparation for the main exam. The amount of material on anthropology is easily available and can be accessed by any candidate. This is the biggest advantage of choosing anthropology as an optional subject.

There is variety of books available in the market which makes most of the students perplexed. But studying from the right book is very important. Many a times referring to three to four books for the same topic creates confusion and instead of understanding one becomes totally exhausted what to study. So it’s better to study books by good authors where each and every concept is explained in detail and clearly.

This helps in better understanding of the topic without any sought o confusion and misguidance.Also don’t try to make a library for every single topic as it will create more problems than solutions.  Refer to books but be precise in their selection to get your doubts cleared.

  1. Availability of good coaching institute

Self study is considered as one of the best way of study. But at the same time coaching institute creates an added advantage for the candidate by offering various facilities. So choose an optional subject for which a coaching is available as it will assist in the preparation. Most of the coaching institutes offer classes for anthropology optional subject. This helps in better preparation.

Also with the technological development and recent availability of internet connection in every corner of the country there is revolution of online coaching classes. Now a candidate needs not to travel kilometres to attend classes. He/she can simply sit inside the four walls of his room and study at his comfort.

There are ample good coaching classes available which catalyses in the preparation of IAS examination. They offer online videos classes and audio sessions. If you can’t understand a topic at first instance then you can simply play the video again and clear your concepts.

  1. Subject studied at the time graduation or post graduation

Try to choose an optional subject which you have already studied during the time of your graduation and post graduation. This will be very helpful for you as one already have plenty of knowledge about that optional subject because he/she has already studies earlier in college times. If you have studied anthropology at graduation level than it will be an advantage for you as your concepts will be clearer than others.

Since you are already familiar with the subject, it acts as an advantage. Choosing an optionalsubject different from the subjects of your graduation or post graduation will only be a challenge for you. You need to put on extra efforts in order to understand the subject because the syllabus will be altogether different.

So in order to save time, energy and to reduce the extra efforts it would be better to opt for the subject that you have already studied. This will help to score better marks and the results will be far more than expected in the exam.

There are many tips that a candidate can use during his preparation. These are as follow:

  1. Revision of important topics

It is very important to thoroughly study the whole syllabus of anthropology optional twice and thrice. And then keep on revising it as many times as possible. Revision helps to absorb the things in a better way. It helps to keep whole of the syllabus in our brain for a longer duration.

If a student keeps on learning and doesn’t revise what he has studied then he tends to forget the thing on the day of the exam. This is because what he/studies didn’t ever got registered in his brain. Thus revision is the key factor to restore things in the brain.

  1. Making notes

Most of the books available are too huge and thick that day before the exam a candidate cannot solely study from it. So it’s always better to make notes out of the available books and study materials.

Writing down 1000pages into a short summary of 100pages helps in a quick revision. This exercise of making notes also saves a lot of time and energy. At the end of the notes made by you is something which will help you a lot in exam preparation.

  1. Time management

Most of the students are unable to manage the time during the exam. This happens because many a times a candidate spends a lot of time in thinking about an answer of particular questions and this leads to a lot of wastage of time. Instead of this one needs to specify and allocate proper time to each and every question.

It will help to finish the paper on time. Also time management is important to avoid any last minute hassle. When less time is left and there are more number of questions left to be answer then many a times a candidate marks a wrong answer even if he/she knows the correct answer.

  1. Practice mock tests

If candidates joins any kind of online or offline coaching for IAS preparation then both them will offer the mock test series. These mock test series catalyses the preparation. They offer an atmosphere similar to that of the final exam.

After attempting these test series a person gets hang of like what kind of questions can be asked in the final exam. Hence a candidate becomes more comfortable and confident when he/she gives the final examination.

  1. Practice past year papers

Practicing past year paper is one of the most vital factors involved in the preparation. If you practice past year papers then you can an idea what exactly has been asked in previous exam. And what are the important topics through which most of the questions arises in the exam.

This helps to plan your preparation in a better way and study properly. If you are well versed with previous exam papers then you get an insight what is most important from the exam point of view and accordingly you can solve and practice questions for the final examination.

  1. Don’t take stress and be confident

Confidence helps to boost your moral during the preparation. It helps to overcome stress which every candidate tend to face every day. Since IAS exam preparation is not at also easy, so many a times candidate feel to give up. But by being confident you can easily overcome the stress and the negative thoughts that occupy your mind.

It helps in concentration and you are able to focus more on your studies well. It helps you to remain calm and composed throughout your preparation.

About Anthropology Optional in UPSC, IAS, Civil Services Examinations. 

  • Origin, development and nature of human beings. 
  • Anthropos- human, logos- study
  • Study of human beings and their behaviour living in societies
  • Comparative  study of  societies in the past and present in  term of their customary ideas and practices
  • Study of man in time and space
  • Anthropology  freely borrows, organizes and integrates knowledge from several diverse disciplines to present a comprehensive  and consistent  picture  of a man and his work  in totality
  • Study varieties  of people and human experiences


Branches  of  Anthropology

  • Biological  Anthropology
  • Socio-cultural  Anthropology
  • Linguistic  Anthropology
  • Archaeological Anthropology



1.1 Meaning, Scope and development of Anthropology.

1.2 Relationships with other disciplines: Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Humanities.

1.3 Main branches of Anthropology, their scope and relevance (a) Social-cultural Anthropology. (b) Biological Anthropology. (c) Archaeological Anthropology. (d) Linguistic Anthropology.

1.4 Human Evolution and the emergence of Man : (a) Biological and Cultural factors in human evolution. (b) Theories of Organic Evolution (Pre-Darwinian, Darwinian and Post-Darwinian). (c) 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).

1.5 Characteristics 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.

1.6 Phylogenetic status, characteristics and geographical distribution of the following : (a) Polio-Pleistocene hominids in South and East Africa—Australopithecines. (b) Homo erectus: Africa (Paranthropus), Europe (Homo erectus (heidelbergensis), Asia  (Homo erectus javanicus, Homo erectus pekinensis. (c) Neanderthal man—La-Chapelle-aux-saints (Classical type), Mt. Carmel (Progressive type). (d) Rhodesian man. (e) Homo sapiens—Cromagnon, Grimaldi and Chancelede.

1.7 The biological basis of Life: The Cell, DNA structure and replication, Protein Synthesis, Gene, Mutation, Chromosomes, and Cell Division. 1.8 (a) Principles of Prehistoric Archaeology. Chronology: Relative and Absolute Dating methods. (b) Cultural Evolution—Broad Outlines of Prehistoric cultures : (i) Paleolithic (ii) Mesolithic (iii) Neolithic (iv) Chalcolithic (v) Copper-Bronze Age (vi) Iron Age

2.1 The Nature of Culture: The concept and characteristics of culture and civilization; Ethnocentrism vis-a-vis cultural Relativism.

2.2 The Nature of Society: Concept of Society; Society and Culture; Social Institution; Social groups; and Social stratification.

2.3 Marriage: Definition and universality; Laws of marriage (endogamy, exogamy, hypergamy, hypogamy, incest taboo); Type of marriage (monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, group marriage). Functions of marriage; Marriage regulations (preferential, prescriptive and proscriptive); Marriage payments (bridewealth and dowry).

2.4 Family: 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.

2.5 Kinship: 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.

3. Economic Organization: Meaning, scope and relevance of economic anthropology; Formalist and Substantivist debate; Principles governing the 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.

4. Political Organization and Social Control: Band, tribe, chiefdom, kingdom and state; concepts of power, authority and legitimacy; social control, law and justice in simple Societies.

5. Religion: 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 : (a) Classical evolutionism (Tylor, Morgan and Frazer) (b) Historical particularism (Boas) Diffusionism (British, German and American) (c) Functionalism (Malinowski); Structural— Functionalism (Radcliffe-Brown) (d) Structuralism (Levi-Strauss and E. Leach) (e) Culture and personality (Benedict, Mead, Linton, Kardiner and Cora-du Bois) (f) Neo—evolutionism (Childe, White, Steward, Sahlins and Service) (g) Cultural materialism (Harris) (h) Symbolic and interpretive theories (Turner, Schneider and Geertz) (i) Cognitive theories (Tyler, Conklin) (j) 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 : (a) Fieldwork tradition in anthropology (b) Distinction between technique, method and methodology (c) Tools of data collection: observation, interview, schedules, questionnaire, case study, genealogy, life-history, oral history, secondary sources of information, participatory methods. (d) Analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.

9.1 Human Genetics: Methods and Application: Methods for the study of genetic principles in the man-family study (pedigree analysis, twin study, foster child, co-twin method, cytogenetic method, chromosomal and karyotype analysis), biochemical methods, immunological methods, D.N.A. technology and recombinant technologies.

 9.2 Mendelian genetics in the man-family study, single factor, multifactor, lethal, sub-lethal and polygenic inheritance in man.

9.3 Concept 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.

 9.4 Chromosomes and chromosomal aberrations in man, methodology. (a) Numerical and structural aberrations (disorders). (b) Sex chromosomal aberration- Klinefelter (XXY), Turner (XO), Super female (XXX), intersex and other syndromic disorders. (c) Autosomal aberrations- Down syndrome, Patau, Edward and Cri-du-chat syndromes. (d) Genetic imprints in human disease, genetic screening, genetic counselling, human DNA profiling, gene mapping and genome study.

9.5 Race and racism, biological basis of morphological variation of non-metric and characters. Racial criteria, racial traits about heredity and environment; biological basis of racial classification, racial differentiation and race crossing in man.

9.6 Age, sex and population variation as a genetic marker: ABO, Rh blood groups, HLA Hp, transferring, Gm, blood enzymes. Physiological characteristics-Hb level, body fat, pulse rate, respiratory functions and sensory perceptions in different cultural and socio-economic groups.

9.7 Concepts 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.

9.8 Epidemiological 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.

11.1 Relevance of menarche, menopause and other bioevents to fertility. Fertility patterns and differentials.

11.2 Demographic theories-biological, social and cultural.

11.3 Biological and socio-ecological factors influencing fecundity, fertility, natality and mortality.

12. Applications of Anthropology: Anthropology of sports, Nutritional anthropology, Anthropology in designing of defence and other equipment, Forensic Anthropology, Methods and principles of personal identification and reconstruction, Applied human genetics—Paternity diagnosis, genetic counselling and eugenics, DNA technology in diseases and medicine, serogenetics and cytogenetics in reproductive biology.


1.1 Evolution 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 the tribal cultures to Indian civilization.

 1.2 Palaeo—Anthropological evidence from India with special reference to Siwaliks and Narmada basin (Ramapithecus, Sivapithecus and Narmada Man).

1.3. Ethno-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. 3.1 The structure and nature of traditional Indian social system—Varnashram, Purushartha, Karma, Rina and Rebirth.

3.2 Caste system in India— Structure and characteristics Varna and caste, Theories of origin of the caste system, Dominant caste, Caste mobility, Future of caste system, Jajmani system. Tribe-case continuum.

3.3 Sacred Complex and Nature-Man-Spirit Complex.

3.4. Impact of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity of Indian society.

4. Emergence, growth and development in India— Contributions of the 18th, 19th and early 20th Century scholar-administrators. Contributions of Indian anthropologists to tribal and caste studies.

5.1 Indian 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.

5.2 Linguistic and religious minorities and their social, political and economic status.

5.3 Indigenous 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.

6.1 Tribal situation in India—Bio-genetic variability, linguistic and socio-economic characteristics of the tribal populations and their distribution.

6.2 Problems of the tribal Communities—Land alienation, poverty, indebtedness, low literacy, poor educational facilities, unemployment, under-employment, health and nutrition.

6.3 Developmental projects and their impact on tribal displacement and problems of rehabilitation. Development of forest policy and tribals. Impact of urbanisation and industrialization on tribal populations.

7.1 Problems of exploitation and deprivation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.

7.2 Social change and contemporary tribal societies: Impact of modern democratic institutions, development programmes and welfare measures on tribals and weaker sections.

7.3 The 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.

8.1 Impact of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions on tribal societies.

8.2 Tribe and nation-state—a comparative study of tribal communities in India and other countries.

9.1 History 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.

9.2 Role of anthropology in tribal and rural development.

9.3 Contributions of anthropology to the understanding of regionalism, communalism and ethnic and political movements.

How to Prepare Anthroplogy Optional for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services Examinations.

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