What is the syllabus of IFS (Indian Foreign Service) exam?

What is the syllabus of IFS (Indian Foreign Service) exam?

Indian Foreign Services (IFS) is one of the Central Civil Services of the Government of India under Group A. Indian Foreign Service (IFS) personnel serve as representative for their country in other countries. They are entrusted with the task of dealing with diplomacy, trade and cultural relations with other countries. One of the primary goals of this service is to frame foreign policies and management of Indian missions globally.

The syllabus for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) exam is the same as other civil services examination conducted by UPSC. Candidates making it through the selection procedure which is the same as other civil services gets allotment to the Indian Foreign Services as per his/her rank. After getting selected he/she has to go through certain training in the Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi.

Syllabus of Indian Foreign Service (IFS):

Paper I:

  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography -Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • Indian Polity and Governance -Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization
  • General Science.


  • Comprehension
  • Interpersonal skills including Communication Skills
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability
  • Decision-making and problem solving
  • General mental ability
  • Basic numeracy (numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.) (Class X level), Data interpretation (charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency, etc. – Class X level).
  • English Language Comprehension skills (Class X level)

IFS Main Exam:

Paper A – Any Indian Language:

  • For this examination, candidates have to choose one language from the Languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
  • This exam is not compulsory for applicants hailing from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim

Paper-B English:

This paper is conducted to test the eligibility of aspirants and to check the skills of aspirants in English Language.

Aspirants are selected based on some facts like how they understand this language and how they express their ideas clearly and correctly.

The pattern of questions would be generally as follows: -

1) Comprehension of given passages

2) Precise Writing

3) Usage and vocabulary

Paper 1- Essay:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics.

Paper 2– General Studies 1:

Indian Heritage/ Culture, Modern India, World History, Geography & Social issues:

  • Indian culture will cover the main features of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from old to present times.
  • Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Post-independence consolidation and restructuring within the country
  • History of the world will include events from the 18th Century.
  • Salient Features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
  • The role of women and women’s organizations.
  • Effects of globalization on Indian Society
  • Social Empowerment
  • Salient Features of world’s Physical Geography
  • Distribution of Key Natural Resources Across the world
  • Important Geographical Phenomena

Paper 3– General Studies 2:

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations:

  • Functions and duties of the Union and the States, issues and challenges of the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies- their role, structure and mandate.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • Government Policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Development process and the development industry
  • Welfare schemes for the vulnerable section of the population by center and states.
  • Issues related to the development
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
  • Important aspects of Governance
  • Role of Civil Services in a democracy

Paper 4- General Studies 3:

Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security & Disaster Management:

  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development, and employment.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Effects of Liberalization on the economy
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, roads, etc.
  • Investment models
  • Science and technology
  • Achievements of Indian in Science and technology
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, etc.
  • Conversation, environmental pollution, and degradation.
  • Disaster and Disaster Management
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism etc.
  • Role of external state
  • Challenges of internal security through communications networks
  • Security challenges

Paper 5– General Studies 4:

Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude:

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants, and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships.
  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behavior; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
  • Emotional intelligence concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world.
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; the role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.
  • Probity in Governance: Concept of Public Service
  • Case studies on Above Issues etc.

Paper 6 & 7 Optional Paper 1 (Of your choice)/ Optional Paper 2 (Of your choice):

Applicants can choose any optional from the subjects.

List of Optional Subjects:


Optional Subject (Top 10 Popular Subject)




Electrical Engineering






Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science






Civil Engineering


Commerce and Accountancy
















Mechanical Engineering


Medical Science




Political Science and International Relations




Public Administration









This article will give an idea about the detailed syllabus for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), which is not very much different from the other services (IAS, IPS, IRS, etc.). Candidates who aspire to choose IFS and serve the nation will get to know about the syllabus and go ahead with better preparations.

Good Luck, Jai Hind!!