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[Strategy] Anthropology Study-plan and Booklist by Dr.Vijay (IAS) for UPSC Civil Service (Mains) Exam

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This article, is a compilation of gems given by Dr. K.Vijayakarthikeyan (AIR 22 / CSE 2010) on the IOforum. At present, He is an IAS officer in Tamilnadu cadre.

  1. Disclaimer
  2. Advantages of anthropology
  3. Getting started with Anthropology
  4. Preparation of anthropology (mains)
  5. Useful books
  6. About these Books
  7. Tips for anthropology preparation
  8. Importance of diagrams in anthropology answer writing

It’s completely based on my anthro strategy which helped me (Dr. Vijay) get 375 marks in Anthropology, in 1st attempt in cse 2010, it worked wonders with me, it may or may not work with you
Advantages of anthropology

  1. Scoring subject
  2. Interesting subject
  3. Easy to grasp especially For science graduates

Getting started with Anthropology

Anthropology topper

Dr.Vijay, IAS

Anthropology is divided into two papers–

Paper 1

  1. Physical anthropology –
    1. prehistory-evolution of man,
    2. biological concepts of man,
    3. genetics and diseases,
    4. race
  2. Social anthropology(sociology related)
    1. family,marriage,religion,kinship etc
  3. Theories
  4. Misc – demography,research methodology etc

Paper 2

  1. Prehistory in india
  2. Indian social system
  3. Indian tribes and their problems

Mrunal Edit:

Entire syllabus of Anthropology can be seen on the Page 8 of UPSC 2012 Notification (Click me to download PDF).
IGNOU also run M.A. in Anthropology but unfortunately it seems they’ve not uploaded the PDF material on, as they did with History, Sociology and Public Administration.

Preparation of anthropology (mains)

It’s advisable to start anthro preparation as early as possible after the upsc preliminary examination and with focussed, systematic study one can complete the subject by end of august.
Useful books

  1. P.Nath(preferred) /das for physical anthropology.Nath is very useful for misc topics also
  2. Social anthropology by majumdar/madan
  3. Makhan jha’s book of anthropology theories
  4. Indian anthropology by R.N. Sharma
  5. Indian anthropology by Nadeem Hasnan

About these Books

  1. is interesting but not commission exam oriented. Just keep glancing at it when u feel bored with other stuff thats more than enough. Do not waste time trying to cram it line by line.
  2. R.n.sharma is good for tribal topics, also get hold muniratnam sir’s notes plus do keep updating and make notes from min. Of tribal affairs websites wrt tribal legislations,schemes
  3. P.nath is good for the genetics /biology part
  4. Makhan Jha is an essential book as there are no good books available exclusively for theories) also make use of internet and prepare notes for theories given in union public service commission syllabus that are not in makhan jha.
  5. Das/nath havesimple diagrams for physical part but parts are not marked in both. There is a physical anthro book by r.n.sharma which has well marked parts but instead of buying that book just for diagrams,i suggest you see the topic in das/nath and then google the topic (eg. Neanderthal skull) you’l get beautiful diagrams.for diagrams on pre historic tools, ” an outline of indian prehistory ” by d.k.bhattacharya is good but again instead of getting the book you can get it from the internet. Most of my flow charts are result of my own thoughts- i just make a pictographic representation of the whole broad concept,didnt refer anywhere for it.

Tips for anthropology preparation

  • Try to start preparation as soon as upsc preliminary examination are over(thats the reason for me posting now) instead of choosing it late and feeling sorry better start your preparation asap. I finished the whole thing in 4 months.
  • Try attempting physical anthro based and theory based questions as much as possible.from what i know, socio based questions fetch lesser marks comparitively( i avoided questions like those on origin of language in the exam even though i knew it)
  • When you come across a case study, note it down as use it at appropriate topics where you are expected to explain the concept
  • Practice diagrams for physical part, diagrams will ultimately fetch us more marks
  • Do not ignore theories part ,selective study is always dangerous
  • Try to make good notes for theories and misc part as good material is not available in market.
  • Keep updating the latest trends and developments in anthropology from newspaper/magazines and internet

Importance of diagrams in anthropology answer writing

  • It’s more catchy and provides more information,saves examiner’s time also- if he finds your diagram to be very good, he’l be more inclined to like your description too.. So as far as physical anthro is concerned, neat diagrams will definitely give us an edge over others.. So practice diagrams
  • By diagrams i meant anatomical -skull,vertebra,bones,teeth diagrams when we are asked to write about prehistoric man,also a good comparative diagram with modern man also can be given(depending on question).for questions on prehistoric stages you can give good diagrams of the tools used then, a rough picture of the habitat, some pictures of artefacts found etc.. Its easier to draw diagrams and then explain.
  • Just read the theory part then spend 5 mins for looking at the diagram, then try and do a rough sketch.. 15 mins /day for the diagrams should be more than enough.. That too its only when you read the physical part..
  • diagrams are important ( for physical anthro part only) because you can draw a picture and explain things easily than writing paras and paras( saves time too). It also shows that you know the concept better. Nobody will reduce your marks for not drawing, but you are bound to get more if u give neat sketches. So if you want really high scores then you have to pay attention to it.
  • For non physical anthro part – give some pictorial additions – like a cycle(eg. Bonded labour question in 2010)/ flow chart- that way we have an edge over others
  • Question : Is it required to draw skeletons and dentition for questions on neanderthals, australopithecines etc?? Answer. Yes.. Diagrams will definitely fetch you more marks..
  • focussed preparation with good strategy and guidance will definitely succeed

From vishal singh

My drawing skills are quite poor and i had little prior exposure to biology (apart from ncert and the general stuff). I decided to take anthropology just before upsc preliminary examination results were out in august 2010. Somebody suggested me to read ember & ember to have an idea about anthropology, i found it very interesting, intuitive and structured. It was already too late, i had two months time to prepare, that too without coaching. Although my mains total of 278 (150+128) is not very impressive, it is more than what one expects to manage in two months time. I regret that i started it so late.

The bottom-line is that if you find the subject interesting and have right aptitude, you can prepare it from scratch even if you’ve a non life-science background. Drawing is not a matter of concern as there are only a few drawings to be prepared which can be practiced over time. More important is to understand the changes in features(in human anatomy as well as in tools etc.) And its effect on physical and cultural evolution. All that can be managed, provided you have sufficient time and willing to put efforts.

Nishi Sharma update (November-06-2012)

Syllabus should done in this sequence to understand the topics in better manner and in lesser time.
1 Intro

2 Biology

3 Research

4 Caste

5 Tribals

Mrunal’s Recommended Booklist

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अब तक 153 कमेंट्स लिखी गयी

  1. Pradeep says:

    which are good coaching institutes in India?
    thank you,

    • Ashtam Neelkanth says:

      Brain Tree In Hyderabad; Vaid’s in Delhi

      • anonymous says:

        Its better not to go to braintree instead target and rc reddy are gud in hyderabad

        • dentico says:

          i took in target ias by sosin tayyaba madam, it is really good. and for science back ground people no other thought you can join there

  2. Rajan says:

    please upload previous year anthropology papers..,,,

  3. dhana says:

    sir i am student of bsc physics and though i dont have as such knowledge of biology, i have chosen anthropology. earlier i had decided agriculture, but later gave up. is this decision of anthropology good?

  4. Anuj says:

    Hi Mrunal,
    Can u provide links for VAIDS COACHING (as i live in hyderabad how i’ll get in contact with them for getting material for anthro)
    and i had heard about brilliant material as well . is it worth to buy it
    or should i go with vaids or if any other please provide guidance

  5. bhaz says:

    could someone share the source to refer for these topics

    1. symbolic and interpretive theories
    2. cognitive theories
    3. Post modernism

  6. Anoop Singh says:

    Hi.. could any one give step by step approach to prepare anthropology like where to start and how to move on various topics and which book would be sufficient for preparation. There are a lot of books and I dont know how to move on to different books.

  7. shilpa says:

    Indian anthro: RN SHARMA or Nadeem hasnain which is better?????????????????????????

  8. RASHMI says:

    hi can anyone suggest with changing trends which is better suject to pick history or anthro

  9. Rajith says:

    Hi All,

    Does anyone know from where one can collect muniratnam sir’s notes for anthro? Has one collected it recently.


  10. dhana says:

    do vaid ias institute provide correspondence course/study material by post?

  11. vinay kumar says:

    sir , i have read ur strategy article on anthropology. iam strong on my physical part of anthropology. i need to focus on non-physical part, social ,indian anthropology. kindly suggest me material info , books & strategy to prepare in this short duration.

    • rashmi says:

      hi..can anyone please tell the above mentioned books is sufficient for anthropology prepration.please guide me as i am new to this subject COMPLETELY.

  12. manish says:

    great effort

  13. RASHMI says:

    i am thinking of opting anthro can anyone please tell me which books,institute should be opted for this exam

  14. REENA says:


  15. venu says:

    Is there any need to join Test series for anthropology…

  16. Mahesh says:

    Dear Mrunal,
    I was unable to find anthropology books from the “PRICE CATALOGUE FOR IGNOU’S STUDIES MATERIAL”

    Could you please help!!!

  17. rashmi says:

    hi..can anyone please tell the above mentioned books is sufficient for anthropology prepration.please guide me as i am new to this subject COMPLETELY.

  18. rashmi says:

    hi..can anyone please tell the above mentioned books is sufficient for anthropology prepration.please guide me as i am new to this subject COMPLETELY.

  19. Akshay says:

    From where can one get the study material of Braintree for anthropology ????

    • Prasad says:

      u can get it from photocopy shops in mukherjee nagar, i have a a copy which i’m planning to sell unused copy as i changed my optional, if u want let me no. My contact number: 8447980729

  20. suresh says:

    For Anthro as Optional:
    1. which books is better for thoughts & theories? Upadhyay or Makhan Jha? Upadhyay seems to be unavailable. I stay in Bangalore
    2. for Social Anthro part, Bettie or Majumdar?


  21. susmita says:

    please help me in choosing optional subject one is anthropology but i confuse for 2nd subject which one is best with anthro

  22. tin says:

    need help for the b.a. anthropology link for IGNOU.

  23. vishal says:

    can anyone suggest me book for anthropology optional(mains) and material of other institutes which can help me in my preparation..

    • touzeep says:

      i need anthropology notes.can ayone help plz

      • tina says:

        I am having brain tree’s notes plus some other notes and 3 texts. If u require them do let me know. (binded notes)
        Plus three texts:
        1) Tribal India :- Nadeem Hassan
        2) Indian Anthropology :- Nadeem Hasan
        3) Social Anthro By Mazumdar and Madan

        As I changed my optional to literature, I wont be needing them in further. If you want the notes do let me know.

        • abhishek says:

          i need it .

        • rashmi says:

          hi i need urgently physical anthropology by p. nath………………pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee lemme know if some one selling it i searched all markets from bersarai to rajendra nagar…please tell me where will i find it in delhi

          • sambid says:

            p nath available online in jawahar book store in delhi.i bought from jawahar book store.

    • mukesh says:

      hello tina,
      I was trying to email u but seems its invalid can u update ur email please??

  24. harsh says:

    pls suggest a gud coaching center in chennai for anthropology

  25. Biman says:

    Can anyone please say among the materials in ANTHROPOLOGY of Brain Tree, Vaids, Munniratnam, RC reddy which is the best.. and how to procure them without joining the coaching centre. Any shops selling them In Bangalore, Chennai???

    Thanks a lot and best of luck for all..

  26. Priyanka Prasad says:

    I have decided to prepare for IAS. Please can anyone tell me where to start my preparations from. That would really be a great help.

  27. abhpr says:

    @mrunal sir:
    sir u should give detailed strategy n booklist for anthro tooo…
    how is it as an optional:pros/ everything.thnx

  28. Prasad says:

    You can begin your preparation witIh NCERT books, to have a proper foundation.

  29. PAVAN says:

    sir, can u please give ur mail id….

  30. gaurav says:

    I need book for can i contact ?tina

  31. rashmi says:

    hi i need urgently physical anthropology by p. nath………………pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee lemme know if some one selling it i searched all markets from bersarai to rajendra nagar…please tell me where will i find it in delhi

    • Rajith says:

      Jawahar book stores has it. You can order them online at

      • rashmni says:

        i called them..and visited the shop as well as per them its unavailable and they have photocopy of the book…………… its nt cmng anymore……it is strange to see it online..available

        • Rajith says:

          Hm…bad luck. I too didnt find the book in bangalore as it was out of print. But was able to get it from jawahar book stores few months back. I guess those were the last few copies available.

  32. Suben roy says:

    Can anyone help me to get anthropology study material??? Please

  33. Suman says:

    Dear Sir,
    I m a newbie to CSE. I m from Electronics Backgrnd. So there is no topic linked to my Backgrnd.
    So I was willing to opt for Anthro as I have heard that the syllabus of Anthro is exhaustive and the questions are even repeatitive.
    Kindly confirm whether its a truth or jus a myth. Thou I might sound dull, plz elucidate as I m quite confused and I dont wanna waste any time.

  34. dr_amit says:

    guys i gave my mains this year with geography as optional.though i put my blood and seat in preparing this optional i couldnt make it to interview call…i m planning to swith to it doable if i hope to give mains 2014…i can devot 2 and half month for anthro before prelims and then after prelims i will give full time.please suggest guys i m in big dielemma.i will probably do self study.

  35. Krishnan says:

    To Delhi friends who are looking for coaching this year, Lakshmiah sir will be starting a batch in July at Mithra IAS. Since he’s based in Hyderabad, he needs to gauge if Delhi actually has a robust base for Anthro. If you’re planning to study Anthro as an optional, please do contact him soon. He is a published author with Telugu Akademi by AP Govt and apparently teaches very effectively keeping the exam framework in mind. There are also regular tests and he spends the maximum time of approx 3 hrs (more compared to Vaid’s or Sapiens). He’s the best bet for us since he also supplements good material with his expertise. Research about him and reach out so that the Delhi batch is continued.

  36. Shashwat krishna says:

    Sir, if you can please help me out for opting optional subject foe CSE Mains Exam……
    I’ve completed from Computer Science Engg. and now m confused to opt which subject…….
    I’m thinking to go with Public Admin. or Anthropology or Law or Sociology.

    Please do reply Sir….

  37. Anil kumar Kunta says:

    Hi sir is there any good institute in Hyderabad for Anthropology or should we choose in Delhi please let me give an Idea sir.

  38. radhe raghuwanshi says:

    Hi sr is there any good institute in Delhi for Anthropology

  39. bharath says:

    can anyone please forward vaid ias academy in delhi mukherjeenagar

  40. Saranya says:

    Hello I have opted for anthropology as optional and by going through the net I got the impression that for
    Physical – p nath
    Social – majumdar
    Theory – makhan jha
    For tribes – rn sharma
    Rn sharma is not available so wat else book can I buy to study the tribal part
    Also p nath book is not available can u pls suggest alternative books am a newbie in anthro and jus started preparing. Pls

  41. Rajith says:

    Any idea about the anthropology scores in 2013 mains. In the toppers interview none seem to have taken anthro as optional. ??

  42. Kisna says:


    Spoiler: he pack up the batch within a month with you feeling like a real dumb!

  43. Kisna says:

    Anthro coaching is available at vajiram ya D Vajiram from this year.. so rather join that in place of VAID !!!

  44. Kisna says:

    Can Anyone tell me from where n how can I get notes of muniratnam or braintree? Is there a link ?


  45. anilkumar says:

    Dear friends…plz inform where I can get muniratnam sir notes..and is it sufficient to cover all topics…plz reply..good luck to all

  46. sanjay says:

    Please suggest for classroom coaching in Bangalore if any for Anthro.

  47. vivek R says:

    Hi Guys,

    In Vajiram and ravi two teachers are there.

    one from Hyderabad , who will be covering 20% of syllabus. as she has her own inst. in hyd.
    2nd, their Science teacher. so in my view not a good option to join there.
    Rather join Dr. Lakshmaiah or Srinivas.

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