UPSC Chemistry Syllabus (IAS Mains 2018 PDF Optional)

UPSC Chemistry Syllabus (UPSC Mains Chemistry Notes PDF and also Hindi Books, Chemistry Question Papers) : Download UPSC Chemistry Syllabus in PDF for the upcoming year updated as per recent official notifications from the Central UPSC Exams Board. Chemistry is a branch of physical science that studies the composition, structure, properties and change of matter. Chemistry includes topics such as the properties of individual atoms, how atoms form chemical bonds to create chemical compounds etc. The overall UPSC Chemistry Syllabus for next exam has been officially released recently and we have provided below the updated details on that. With Proper preparation, UPSC Chemistry Syllabus can be easily taken over to the perfection.

Important Details on UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Syllabus Scope 4 Sections
UPSC Chemistry Syllabus Download
Total Subtopics Twenty Two
Preparation Time 800 Hours

Fore Note to UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Note First and foremost, you must talk to someone who has taken Chemistry as an optional earlier and take their advice. There has been a common misconception among the students that UPSC Chemistry Syllabus is a hard nut to crack and its better to leave it as an optional paper. You are absolutely wrong.

Even through the Chemistry Syllabus portion in UPSC looks very huge and hard to study, once you start reading through few chapters, you will come to an absolute conclusion that UPSC Chemistry Syllabus is one of the most interesting and easiest of all the papers in entire UPSC Syllabus.

UPSC Chemistry Question Papers

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Section A: UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Atomic Structure

  1. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger wave equation (time independent);
  2. Interpretation of wave function, particle in one-dimensional box, quantum numbers, hydrogen atom wave functions;
  3. Shapes of s, p and d orbitals.

Chemical Bonding

  1. Ionic bond, characteristics of ionic compounds, lattice energy, Born-Haber cycle;
  2. covalent bond and its general characteristics, polarities of bonds in molecules and their dipole moments;
  3. Valence bond theory, concept of resonance and resonance energy;
  4. Molecular orbital theory (LCAO method); bonding in H2+, H2, He2+ to Ne2, NO, CO, HF, and CN-;
  5. Comparison of valence bond and molecular orbital theories, bond order, bond strength and bond length.

Solid State : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Crystal systems; Designation of crystal faces, lattice structures and unit cell;
  2. Bragg’s law; X-ray diffraction by crystals;
  3. Close packing, radius ratio rules, calculation of some limiting radius ratio values;
  4. Structures of NaCl, ZnS, CsCl and CaF2;
  5. Stoichiometric and nonstoichiometric defects, impurity defects, semi-conductors.

The Gaseous State and Transport Phenomenon

  1. Equation of state for real gases, intermolecular interactions and critical phenomena and liquefaction of gases,
  2. Maxwell’s distribution of speeds, intermolecular collisions, collisions on the wall and effusion;
  3. Thermal conductivity and viscosity of ideal gases.

Liquid State : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Kelvin equation;
  2. Surface tension and surface energy, wetting and contact angle, interfacial tension and capillary action.


  1. Work, heat and internal energy;
  2. first law of thermodynamics. Second law of thermodynamics;
  3. entropy as a state function, entropy changes in various processes, entropy-reversibility and irreversibility, Free energy functions;
  4. Thermodynamic equation of state; Maxwell relations;
  5. Temperature, volume and pressure dependence of U, H, A, G, Cp and Cv α and β;
  6. J-T effect and inversion temperature;
  7. criteria for equilibrium, relation between equilibrium constant and thermodynamic quantities;
  8. Nerns theat theorem, introductory idea of third law of thermodynamics.

UPSC Chemistry Syllabus IAS Mains Chemistry Syllabus UPSC Main Chemistry Syllabus

Phase Equilibria and Solutions

  1. Clausius-Clapeyron equation; phase diagram for a pure substance;
  2. phase equilibria in binary systems, partially miscible liquids-upper and lower critical solution temperatures;
  3. partial molar quantities, their significance and determination;
  4. excess thermodynamic functions and their determination.

Electrochemistry : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Debye-Huckel theory of strong electrolytes and Debye-Huckel limiting Law for various equilibrium and transport properties.
  2. Galvanic cells, concentration cells;
  3. electrochemical series, measurement of e.m.f. of cells and its applications fuel cells and batteries.
  4. Processes at electrodes; double layer at the interface;
  5. rate of charge transfer, current density;
  6. overpotential;
  7. electro-analytical techniques: Polarography, amperometry, ion selective electrodes and their uses.

Chemical Kinetics : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Differential and integral rate equations for zeroth, first, second and fractional order reactions;
  2. Rate equations involving reverse, parallel, consecutive and chain reactions;
  3. branching chain and explosions;
  4. effect of temperature and pressure on rate constant;
  5. Study of fast reactions by stop-flow and relaxation methods;
  6. Collisions and transition state theories.


  1. Absorption of light; decay of excited state by different routes;
  2. photochemical reactions between hydrogen and halogens and their quantum yields.

Surface Phenomena and Catalysis : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Absorption from gases and solutions on solid adsorbents, Langmuir and B.E.T. adsorption isotherms;
  2. determination of surface area, characteristics and mechanism of reaction on heterogeneous catalysts.

Bio-inorganic Chemistry

Metal ions in biological systems and their role in ion transport across the membranes (molecular mechanism), oxygenuptake proteins, cytochromes and ferredoxins.

Coordination Compounds : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Bonding theories of metal complexes;
  2. Valence bond theory, crystal field theory and its modifications;
  3. applications of theories in the explanation of magnetism and electronic spectra of metal complexes.
  4. Isomerism in coordination compounds; IUPAC nomenclature of coordination compounds;
  5. stereochemistry of complexes with 4 and 6 coordination numbers;
  6. chelate effect and polynuclear complexes;
  7. trans effect and its theories;
  8. kinetics of substitution reactions in square-planer complexes;
  9. thermodynamic and kinetic stability of complexes.
  10. EAN rule, Synthesis structure and reactivity of metal carbonyls;
  11. carboxylate anions, carbonyl hydrides and metal nitrosyl compounds.
  12. Complexes with aromatic systems, synthesis, structure and bonding in metal olefin complexes, alkyne complexes and cyclopentadienyl complexes
  13. coordinative unsaturation, oxidative addition reactions, insertion reactions, fluxional molecules and their characterization;
  14. Compounds with metal-metal bonds and metal atom clusters.

Main Group Chemistry

  1. Boranes, borazines, phosphazenes and cyclic phosphazene, silicates and silicones, Interhalogen compounds;
  2. Sulphur – nitrogen compounds, noble gas compounds.

General Chemistry of ‘f’ Block Elements

  1. Lanthanides and actinides; separation, oxidation states, magnetic and spectral properties;
  2. lanthanide contraction.

Section B: UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Delocalised Covalent Bonding

  1. Aromaticity, anti-aromaticity;
  2. annulenes, azulenes, tropolones, fulvenes, sydnones.

Reaction Mechanisms

  1. General methods (both kinetic and non-kinetic) of study of mechanism of organic reactions: isotopic method, cross-over experiment, intermediate trapping, stereochemistry;
  2. energy of activation; thermodynamic control and kinetic control of reactions.
  3. Reactive Intermediates: Generation, geometry, stability and reactions of carbonium ions and carbanions, free radicals, carbenes, benzynes and nitrenes.
  4. Substitution Reactions: SN1, SN2 and SNi mechanisms; neighbouring group participation;
  5. electrophilic and nucleophilic reactions of aromatic compounds including heterocyclic compounds-pyrrole, furan, thiophene and indole.
  6. Elimination Reactions: E1, E2 and E1cb mechanisms;
  7. orientation in E2 reactions-Saytzeff and Hoffmann;
  8. pyrolytic syn elimination – Chugaev and Cope eliminations.
  9. Addition Reactions: Electrophilic addition to C=C and C=C; nucleophilic addition to C=0, C=N, conjugated olefins and carbonyls.
  10. Reactions and Rearrangements:
  11. Pinacol-pinacolone, Hoffmann, Beckmann, Baeyer-Villiger, Favorskii, Fries, Claisen, Cope, Stevens and WagnerMeerwein rearrangements.
  12. Aldol condensation, Claisen condensation, Dieckmann, Perkin, Knoevenagel, Witting, Clemmensen, Wolff-Kishner, Cannizzaro and von Richter reactions;
  13. Stobbe, benzoin and acyloin condensations;
  14. Fischer indole synthesis, Skraup synthesis, Bischler-Napieralski, Sandmeyer, Reimer-Tiemann and Reformatsky reactions.

Pericyclic Reactions : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

  1. Classification and examples;
  2. Woodward Hoffmann rules – electro cyclic reactions, cycloaddition reactions [2+2 and 4+2] and sigma tropic shifts [1, 3; 3, 3 and 1, 5] FMO approach.

Preparation and Properties of Polymers

  1. Organic polymers-polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, teflon, nylon, terylene, synthetic and natural rubber.
  2. Biopolymers: Structure of proteins, DNA and RNA.

Synthetic Uses of Reagents

OsO4, HIO4, CrO3, Pb(OAc)4, SeO2, NBS, B2H6, Na-Liquid NH3, LiAlH4, NaBH4, n-BuLi and MCPBA.


Photochemical reactions of simple organic compounds, excited and ground states, singlet and triplet states, Norrish-Type I and Type II reactions.

Spectroscopy : UPSC Chemistry Syllabus

Principle and applications in structure elucidation:

  1. Rotational: Diatomic molecules
  2. isotopic substitution and rotational constants.
  3. Vibrational: Diatomic molecules, linear triatomic molecules, specific frequencies of functional groups in polyatomic molecules.
  4. Electronic: Singlet and triplet states; N→π* and ππ*→ transitions;
  5. application to conjugated double bonds and conjugated carbonyls-Woodward-Fieser rules;
  6. Charge transfer spectra.
  7. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1H NMR): Basic principle; chemical shift and spin-spin interaction and coupling constants.
  8. Mass Spectrometry: Parent peak, base peak, metastable peak, McLafferty rearrangement.

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UPSC Maths Syllabus UPSC Physics Syllabus

Conclusion on UPSC Mains Chemistry Syllabus

It is always said that the wise men words are often neglected. However, we would like to again stress the fact that the Chemistry Syllabus in UPSC is one of the most important and crucial things that has to be properly taken care of.

Not just for examination point of view, Chemistry Syllabus in UPSC helps you in the overal development to become a good responsible officer who will play a crucial role in the development of the country in the decades to come.

Chemistry can be a good optional if you are extremely brilliant at it but i do have a few problems. Chemistryis not going to help an ias in any possible way.

There has been a news circulating that, UPSC may remove optionals in coming years.mind you its not a rumor but actual happening in near future.

If readers have any further questions on UPSC Chemistry Syllabus, you can drop us a mail or even post your question below on our comments section.