About English Language: –

English Literature refers to the study of texts from around the world, written in the English language. By studying a degree in English Literature, you will learn how to analyze a multitude of texts and write clearly using several different styles. English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including Ireland) from the 7th century to the present day.

English Syllabus Subject For UPSC

English is the language provided as a Literature Optional which focuses on the candidates’ understanding of the basic concepts of literature. Candidates who have studied the English literature can opt for it as an optional subject in the IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains Exam. Analytical and unconventional questions are appearing in previous papers so while preparing students should keep IAS Mains English Syllabus and previous papers for reference. The aspirants who are well versed with the English language and are familiar with the grammatical aspects can easily score high marks in this optional. 

English Syllabus Exam Pattern: –

The English language is one of the optional subjects offered for the 2 optional papers in the IAS (UPSC CSE) Main Exam. Each English optional paper consists of 250 marks. Duration for each English mains paper is 3 hours. With well-planned strategies, you can easily score well in the English literature. Interest should be the prime criteria for choosing any optional. The aspirants have to answer the questions from both the papers in English language.

Advantages of choosing English  

· Well defined syllabus and Less subjectivity

  • Direct and straightforward questions
  • Ample scope to score marks with diagrams
  • The inquiries in this subject are immediate and crucial.
  • Room for interpretation in the written answers
  • Quality of answers as there is no limitation to different kinds of answers.
  • Updation in the syllabus is rare

Disadvantages of choosing English

  • Subjective Nature of the answers can lead to less scoring at times if your views do not match with the evaluator.
  • Lack of resources
  • No syllabus overlaps with GS papers
  • Essay writing and interviews won’t pose much of a problem as the amount of reading will help with these.

English Syllabus PAPER – I

The Renaissance: Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama; Metaphysical Poetry; The Epic and the Mock-epic; Neo-classicism; Satire; The Romantic Movement; The Rise of the Novel; The Victorian Age.


  1. William Shakespeare:King Lear and The Tempest.
  2. John Donne. The following poems :
    – Canonization;
    – Death be not proud;
    – The Good Morrow;
    – On his Mistress going to bed;
    – The Relic;
  3. John Milton:Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX
  4. Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock.
  5. William Wordsworth. The following poems:
    – Ode on Intimations of Immortality.
    – Tintern Abbey.
    – Three years she grew.
    – She dwelt among untrodden ways.
    – Michael.
    – Resolution and Independence.
    – The World is too much with us.
    – Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour.
    – Upon Westminster Bridge.
  6. Alfred Tennyson: In Memoriam.
  7. Henrik Ibsen:A Doll’s House.


  1. Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels.
  2. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.
  4. Charles Dickens. Hard Times.
  5. George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss.
  6. Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
  7. Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

English Syllabus PAPER – II

Modernism; Poets of the Thirties; The stream-of-consciousness Novel; Absurd Drama; Colonialism and Post- Colonialism; Indian Writing in English; Marxist, Psychoanalytical and Feminist approaches to literature; Post- Modernism.


  1. William Butler Yeats. The following poems:
    – Easter 1916
    – The Second Coming
    – A Prayer for my daughter.
    – Sailing to Byzantium.
    – The Tower.
    – Among School Children.
    – Leda and the Swan.
    – Meru
    – Lapis Lazuli
    – The Second Coming
    – Byzantium.
  2. S. Eliot. The following poems :
    – The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
    – The journey of the Magi.
    – Burnt Norton.
  3. H. Auden. The following poems :
    – Partition
    – Musee des Beaux Arts
    – in Memory of W.B. Yeats
    – Lay your sleeping head, my love
    – The Unknown Citizen
    – Consider
    – Mundus Et Infans
    – The Shield of Achilles
    – September 1, 1939
    – Petition.
  4. John Osborne :Look Back in Anger.
  5. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot.
  6. Philip Larkin. The following poems :
    – Next
    – Please
    – Deceptions
    – Afternoons
    – Days
    – Mr. Bleaney
  7. K. Ramanujan. The following poems :
    – Looking for a Causim on a Swing
    – A River
    – Of Mothers, among other Things
    – Love Poem for a Wife 1
    – Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House
    – Obituary (All these poems are available in the anthology Ten Twentieth-Century Indian Poets, edited by R. Parthasarthy, published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi).