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Strategy- Anthropology optional for UPSC

Anthropology is a subject which is currently proving to be remunerative for the UPSC aspirants. Besides being scoring and less time intensive it is an extension of GS preparation for around 30-40% of its syllabus. Before selecting this optional for UPSC please go through the syllabus (Paper-I, Paper-II )  in a comprehensive manner.

Criteria for selection of anthropology as an optional

  1. Familiarity with topics related to biology
  2. Ease with slight mugging
  3. Preparedness for giving Dedicated 2 months for it.

Anyone with interest in Anthropology without any past background can opt this optional if he/she satisfy anyone of the above three criteria.

Anthropology was/is field study based subject. It was born out of colonial need to know the origin and evolution of native culture. Hence to make it scoring , following points need to be kept in mind while writing answers.

  • To quote anthropologist in answers
  • To give case studies while writing answers
  • To give examples

( use newspaper for collection of useful case-studies, example etc)

  • To draw diagrams wherever required
  • Attempt physical anthropology and theory based questions as much as possible as socio-cultural based questions fetch lesser marks comparatively.
  • For non-physical anthropology part – give some pictorial representation/ flow chart.
  • To use anthropological language in answer writing.



  1. For general understanding of Anthropology – Ember and Ember
  2. General Anthropology- Nadeem Hasnain
  3. Socio-cultural Anthropology- Nadeem Hasnain
  4. Archeology- Bhattacharya
  5. Physical Anthropology- P.Nath
  6. Physical Anthropology- Shukla and Rastogi
  7. Theories and Indian anthropologist- Pandey and Upadhyay


  1. Indian Anthropology- Nadeem Hasnain
  2. Archeology- Bhattacharya
  3. History of Anthropological Thought – Pandey and Upadhyay
  4. Demographic Anthropology- Census 2011
  5. Tribal Anthropology- Nadeem Hasnain
  6. National commission on ST – A handbook
  7. MoTA- Annual report

Advantages of anthropology

  1. Scoring subject
  2. Interesting subject
  3. Easy to grasp especially For science students
  4. Less time consuming
  5. Helps in GS paper
  6. Short syllabus

Key terminology of question

    • The theme of the question need to be explained in simpler terms for the complex or jargonized statement.
    • To Examine in detail in order to discover meaning, essential features, etc.
    • to break down into components or essential features
    • To support/argue/ illustrate the applicability of the viewpoint contained therein.
    • to point out the positive as well as the negative arguments and to conclud observations emerging from the discussion.
    • Both sides of argument are required with your own opinion/ comment/ view
      with the reasons thereof.
    • Mainly the anti view point is to be brought out with the reasons of such anti view. Conclusions from such an examination with the points of criticism or support.

Remarks- We will try to cover complete Anthropology here, no need to refer to any book or notes.

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