UPSC CSE Physics Optional Syllabus
By On June 3rd, 2021
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UPSC CSE Physics Optional Syllabus for Paper-I, UPSC CSE Physics Optional Syllabus for Paper-II, UPSC Physics Optional Notes, UPSC Physics Optional Detailed Syllabus
UPSC CSE Physics Optional Syllabus for Paper-I
  • (a) Mechanics of Particles :
    Laws of motion; conservation of energy and momentum, applications to rotating frames,
    centripetal and Coriolis accelerations; Motion under a central force; Conservation of angular
    momentum, Kepler’s laws; Fields and potentials; Gravitational field and potential due to spherical
    bodies, Gauss and Poisson equations, gravitational self-energy; Two-body problem; Reduced mass;
    Rutherford scattering; Centre of mass and laboratory reference frames.
    (b) Mechanics of Rigid Bodies :
    System of particles; Centre of mass, angular momentum, equations of motion; Conservation
    theorems for energy, momentum and angular momentum; Elastic and inelastic collisions; Rigid
    Body; Degrees of freedom, Euler’s theorem, angular velocity, angular momentum, moments of
    inertia, theorems of parallel and perpendicular axes, equation of motion for rotation; Molecular
    rotations (as rigid bodies); Di and tri-atomic molecules; Precessional motion; top, gyroscope.
    (c) Mechanics of Continuous Media :
    Elasticity, Hooke’s law and elastic constants of isotropic solids and their inter-relation;
    Streamline (Laminar) flow, viscosity, Poiseuille’s equation, Bernoulli’s equation, Stokes’ law and
    applications.
    (d) Special Relativity :
    Michelson-Morely experiment and its implications; Lorentz transformations length
    contraction, time dilation, addition of relativistic velocities, aberration and Doppler effect,
    mass-energy relation, simple applications to a decay process. Four dimensional momentum
    vector; Covariance of equations of physics.
  • Waves and Optics :
    (a) Waves :
    Simple harmonic motion, damped oscillation, forced oscillation and resonance; Beats;
    Stationary waves in a string; Pulses and wave packets; Phase and group velocities; Reflection and
    refraction from Huygens’ principle.
    (b) Geometrial Optics :
    Laws of reflection and refraction from Fermat’s principle; Matrix method in paraxial
    optic-thin lens formula, nodal planes, system of two thin lenses, chromatic and spherical
    aberrations.
    (c) Interference :
    Interference of light -Young’s experiment, Newton’s rings, interference by thin films,
    Michelson interferometer; Multiple beam interference and Fabry Perot interferometer.
    (d) Diffraction :
    Fraunhofer diffraction – single slit, double slit, diffraction grating, resolving power; Diffraction
    by a circular aperture and the Airy pattern; Fresnel diffraction: half-period zones and zone plates,
    circular aperture.
    (e) Polarisation and Modern Optics :
    Production and detection of linearly and circularly polarized light; Double refraction,
    quarter wave plate; Optical activity; Principles of fibre optics, attenuation; Pulse dispersion in
    step index and parabolic index fibres; Material dispersion, single mode fibers; Lasers-Einstein A
    and B coefficients. Ruby and He-Ne lasers. Characteristics of laser light-spatial and temporal
    coherence; Focusing of laser beams. Three-level scheme for laser operation; Holography and
    simple applications.
  • Electricity and Magnetism :
    (a) Electrostatics and Magnetostatics :
    Laplace and Poisson equations in electrostatics and their applications; Energy of a system of
    charges, multipole expansion of scalar potential; Method of images and its applications. Potential
    and field due to a dipole, force and torque on a dipole in an external field; Dielectrics,
    polarisation. Solutions to boundary-value problems-conducting and dielectric spheres in a
    uniform electric field; Magnetic shell, uniformly magnetised sphere; Ferromagnetic materials,
    hysteresis, energy loss.
    (b) Current Electricity :
    Kirchhoff’s laws and their applications. Biot-Savart law, Ampere’s law, Faraday’s law, Lenz’ law.
    Self-and mutual- inductances; Mean and rms values in AC circuits; DC and AC circuits with R, L
    and C components; Series and parallel resonance; Quality factor; Principle of transformer.
  • Electromagnetic Waves and Blackbody Radiation :
    Displacement current and Maxwell’s equations; Wave equations in vacuum, Poynting theorem;
    Vector and scalar potentials; Electromagnetic field tensor, covariance of Maxwell’s equations;
    Wave equations in isotropic dielectrics, reflection and refraction at the boundary of two dielectrics;
    Fresnel’s relations; Total internal reflection; Normal and anomalous dispersion; Rayleigh
    scattering; Blackbody radiation and Planck ’s radiation law- Stefan-Boltzmann law, Wien’s
    displacement law and Rayleigh-Jeans law.
  • Thermal and Statistical Physics :
    (a) Thermodynamics :
    Laws of thermodynamics, reversible and irreversible processes, entropy; Isothermal,
    adiabatic, isobaric, isochoric processes and entropy changes; Otto and Diesel engines, Gibbs’ phase
    rule and chemical potential; Van der Waals equation of state of a real gas, critical constants;
    Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of molecular velocities, transport phenomena, equipartition and
    virial theorems; Dulong-Petit, Einstein, and Debye’s theories of specific heat of solids; Maxwell
    relations and application; Clausius-Clapeyron equation. Adiabatic demagnetisation, Joule-Kelvin
    effect and liquefaction of gases.
    (b) Statistical Physics :
    Macro and micro states, statistical distributions, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and
    Fermi-Dirac Distributions, applications to specific heat of gases and blackbody radiation;
    Concept of negative temperatures.
Also Read 
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UPSC CSE Physics Optional Syllabus for Paper-II
  • Quantum Mechanics :
    Wave-particle duality; Schroedinger equation and expectation values; Uncertainty principle;
    Solutions of the one-dimensional Schroedinger equation for free particle (Gaussian wave-packet),
    particle in a box, particle in a finite well, linear harmonic oscillator; Reflection and transmission by
    a step potential and by a rectangular barrier; Particle in a three dimensional box, density of states,
    free electron theory of metals; Angular momentum; Hydrogen atom; Spin half particles, properties
    of Pauli spin matrices.
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics :
    Stern-Gerlach experiment, electron spin, fine structure of hydrozen atom; L-S coupling, J-J
    coupling; Spectroscopic notation of atomic states; Zeeman effect; Franck-Condon principle and
    applications; Elementary theory of rotational, vibrational and electronic spectra of diatomic
    molecules; Raman effect and molecular structure; Laser Raman spectroscopy; Importance of
    neutral hydrogen atom, molecular hydrogen and molecular hydrogen ion in astronomy.
    Fluorescence and Phosphorescence; Elementary theory and applications of NMR and EPR;
    Elementary ideas about Lamb shift and its significance.
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics :
    Basic nuclear properties-size, binding energy, angular momentum, parity, magnetic moment;
    Semi-empirical mass formula and applications. Mass parabolas; Ground state of a deuteron,
    magnetic moment and non-central forces; Meson theory of nuclear forces; Salient features of
    nuclear forces; Shell model of the nucleus – success and limitations; Violation of parity in beta
    decay; Gamma decay and internal conversion; Elementary ideas about Mossbauer spectroscopy;
    Q-value of nuclear reactions; Nuclear fission and fusion, energy production in stars. Nuclear
    reactors.
    Classification of elementary particles and their interactions; Conservation laws; Quark
    structure of hadrons : Field quanta of electroweak and strong interactions; Elementary ideas about
    unification of forces; Physics of neutrinos.
  • Solid State Physics, Devices and Electronics :
    Crystalline and amorphous structure of matter; Different crystal systems, space groups;
    Methods of determination of crystal structure; X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission
    electron microscopies; Band theory of solids—conductors, insulators and semi-conductors;
    Thermal properties of solids, specific heat, Debye theory; Magnetism: dia, para and
    ferromagnetism; Elements of super-conductivity, Meissner effect, Josephson junctions and
    applications; Elementary ideas about high temperature super-conductivity.
    Intrinsic and extrinsic semi-conductors- p-n-p and n-p-n transistors; Amplifiers and
    oscillators. Op-amps; FET, JFET and MOSFET; Digital electronics-Boolean identities, De Morgan’s
    laws, Logic gates and truth tables. Simple logic circuits; Thermistors, solar cells; Fundamentals of
    microprocessors and digital computers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On UPSC CSE Optional Syllabus 

Question- What is the UPSC’s Annual Programme (Calendar) of Examinations/RTs (Recruitment Tests)?
Answer – The UPSC publishes an Annual Programme (Calendar) of all the Structured Examinations/RTs conducted by it at least 6 months in advance (i.e. in June) for the Examinations/RTs to be conducted during the next calendar year. The Programme is uploaded on the UPSC’s website as also published in the leading news papers of the country. The date of issue of Examination Notice for each Examination is also mentioned in this Annual Programme.

Question- What happens if a candidate submits multiple online applications?
Answer – While a candidate should avoid submitting more than one online application, in case of doing so, the data provided in the last application (highest RID Number), that is successfully submitted online, is accepted by the Commission. All previous applications are ignored as these are amalgamated with the last completed & finally submitted application. If an applicant (who has already submitted an application successfully) wants to
make amendments in the application, then he has to submit a fresh application on or before the last date of submission of application of the Examination. Therefore, it must be ensured that fee is submitted against the
last online application only, which should also be complete in all respects including its final submission. Fee paid against one RID shall not be adjusted against any other RID number

Question- What action is taken by the Commission in case of submission of false information by the candidates?
Answer – A candidate found to be furnishing false information to the Commission or suppressing information, adopting various unfair means in the Examination like impersonation, cheating, etc., is liable to be disqualified
and/or debarred from writing UPSC Examinations as decided by the Commission. A detailed stipulation in this regard is incorporated in the Rules of Examination/ Examination Notices.

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