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UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024, Mains Optional Physics Syllabus PDF

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024: The UPSC Physics Optional Syllabus is particularly suitable for candidates who have pursued physics at the Graduate or Postgraduate level. Similar to other science-optional subjects, the UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024 covers topics at the bachelor’s degree level and is divided into two papers, each carrying 250 marks. It encompasses essential subjects such as Thermodynamics, Magnetism, Relativity, Electricity quantum theory, Electromagnetic Waves, Diffraction, and more.

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024 Overview

Given the specialized nature of Physics, candidates should adopt a strategic approach while preparing for the UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024 Optional Paper. The subject typically emphasizes application-based questions rather than theoretical ones. Aspirants can also access the UPSC Physics Syllabus PDF through the provided link for easy reference and preparation. The Physics subject in UPSC entails two papers, namely Paper 1 and Paper 2, each carrying 250 marks, culminating in a total of 500 marks. Check out the provided syllabus of Physics Subjects.

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024: Opting for Physics as an optional subject in the UPSC Mains exam is most suitable for candidates who possess exceptional proficiency and a genuine passion for the subject. The IAS Physics Optional Subject in UPSC Mains consists of two papers, namely Paper I and Paper II. Candidates can check out the following Paper I and Paper II.

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024 for Optional Paper I

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024: Candidates can check out the Topic-wise UPSC Physics Syllabus for Mains Optional paper I.

1. (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 a 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; Processional 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-Morley experiment and its implications; Lorentz transformations-length contraction, time dilation, the 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.

2. Waves and Optics:

  •  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.
  • Geometrical Optics: Laws of reflection and refraction from Fermat’s principle; Matrix method in paraxial optics-thin lens formula, nodal planes, a system of two thin lenses, chromatic and spherical aberrations.
  • Interference: Interference of light-Young’s experiment, Newton’s rings, interference by thin films, Michelson interferometer; Multiple beam interference and Fabry-Perot interferometer.
  • 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.
  • Polarization 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 fibres; 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.

3. Electricity and Magnetism:

  • Electrostatics and Magnetostatics: Laplace and Poisson equations in electrostatics and their applications; Energy of a system of charges, multiple 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, polarization; Solutions to boundary-value problems-conducting and dielectric spheres in a uniform electric field; Magnetic shell, uniformly magnetized sphere; Ferromagnetic materials, hysteresis, energy loss.
  • Current Electricity: Kirchhoff’s laws and their applications; Biot-Savart law, Ampere’s law, Faraday’s law, Lenz’s law; Self-and mutual-inductances; Mean and r m s values in AC circuits; DC and AC circuits with R, L and C components; Series and parallel resonances; Quality factor; Principle of transformer.

4. Electromagnetic Waves and Blackbody Radiation: Displacement current and Maxwell’s equations; Wave equations in vacuum, Pointing 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; Black body radiation and Planck’s radiation law, Stefan – Boltzmann law, Wien’s displacement law and Rayleigh-Jeans’ law.

5. Thermal and Statistical Physics:

  • 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; Vander Waals equation of state of a real gas, critical constants; Maxwell-Boltzman distribution of molecular velocities, transport phenomena, equipartition and virial theorems; Dulong-Pet it, Einstein, and Debye’s theories of specific heat of solids; Maxwell relations and applications; Clausius- Clapeyron equation; Adiabatic de-magnetisation, Joule-Kelvin effect and liquefaction of gases.
  • Statistical Physics: Macro and micro states, statistical distributions, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distributions, applications to the specific heat of gases and black body radiation; Concept of negative temperatures.

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024 for Optional Paper II

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024: Candidates can check out the Topic-wise UPSC Physics Syllabus for Mains Optional paper II.

1. Quantum Mechanics: Wave-particle duality; Schroedinger equation and expectation values; Uncertainty principle; Solutions of the one-dimensional Schroedinger equation for a 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.

2. Atomic and Molecular Physics: Stern-Gerlach experiment, electron spin, fine structure of hydrogen atom; L-S coupling, J-J coupling; Spectroscopic notation of atomic states; Zeeman effect; Frank 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.

3. 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 deuteron, magnetic moment and non-central forces; Meson theory of nuclear forces; Salient features of nuclear forces; Shell model of the nucleus – successes 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.

4. Solid State Physics, Devices and Electronics: The crystalline and amorphous structure of matter; Different crystal systems, space groups; Methods of determination of crystal structure; X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microcopies; Band theory of solids – conductors, insulators and semiconductors; Thermal properties of solids, specific heat, Debye theory; Magnetism: para and ferromagnetism; Elements of superconductivity, Meissner effect, Josephson junctions and applications; Elementary ideas about high-temperature superconductivity.

Intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors; pn-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; Thermostats, solar cells; Fundamentals of microprocessors and digital computers.

UPSC Physics Optional Syllabus 2024 PDF

UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024: Candidates who are appearing in the UPSC Physics mains Exam can download the UPSC Physics Syllabus PDF Here. Click on the link below to Download the UPSC Physics Syllabus 2024.

Download PDF: UPSC Physics Optional Syllabus 2024 PDF

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What is the level of physics in UPSC optional?

Like all the other science optional subjects, UPSC Physics Syllabus includes the topics of bachelor's degree level and is divided into paper 1 and paper 2, each carrying a total of 250 marks.

Is physics a good optional for UPSC?

If you have a solid base in this subject, you must definitely go for this optional as you can score good marks in the two optional papers and up your final tally in the UPSC exam.

How difficult is physics optional for UPSC?

Answers are not open to interpretation and hence the possibility of scoring well is high.

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