WBCS  mains Anthropology optional syllabus (detailed and chapterwise)

WBCS or West Bengal Civil Services exam, conducted by WBPSC. is the most prestigious govt exam in the state. Today we are publishing the full detailed syllabus of Anthropology Optional Paper-I and Paper-II. Anthropology is a very attractive subject.  In WBCS mains total marks in optional is 400 (200 for each paper). Mains is conducted for 1600 marks.

You can check the official notification of WBCS for other optional papers and their syllabus. Click here to download the official notification.


1. Introducing anthropology: Meaning and scope of anthropology.


Major branches of anthropology:

1.1 Main branches of Anthropology, their scope, and relevance :
(a) Social-cultural Anthropology,
(b) Biological Anthropology,
(c) Archaeological Anthropology,
(d) Linguistic Anthropology.
1.2 Brief outline of the growth of anthropology. Enlightenment. Colonialism and anthropology.

2. Human evolution and Hominization

2.1 Theories of organic evolution. Human evolution and emergence of Man :
(a) Biological and Cultural factors in human evolution,
(b) Theories of Organic Evolution (Pre-Darwinian, Darwinian, and Post-Darwinian),
(c) Synthetic theory of evolution; Brief outline of terms and concepts of evolutionary

2.2 Neutral theory of molecular evolution

2.3 Concept of evolutionary biology: Skeletal changes, (skull, vertebral column, pelvic girdle, hind

2.4 Characteristics of primates, Primate classification (general), Features and distribution of World Monkey, Old World Monkey, Asian and African

2.5 Theories of human origin.

2.6 Geological time scale with particular reference to the Pleistocene epoch.
Distribution, characteristics, and phylogenetic  (Parapithecus Dryopithecus, Sivapithecus Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus afarensis, Homo habilis Homo erectus (Java Man, Peking Man) Archaic Homo sapiens Neanderthal Man – La-Chapelle-Aux-Saints, Tabun Man Anatomically Modern Homo sapiens – Cromagnon, Grimaldi, Chancelade)

3. Human Genetics :

3.1 Methods – Mendelism, Twin-study, Cytogenetics, Population genetics.
3.2 Biological basis of inheritance: DNA structure and replication, Restriction Fragment Length
Polymorphism (RFLP), Variable Number of Tandem Repeat(s) (VNTRs), Short Tandem Repeat(s) (STRs)
protein synthesis, gene, allele, and cell division.
3.3 Concept of Human Genome: nuclear genome, mitochondrial genome, Chromosome and
chromosomal aberrations in man (Numerical and structural aberrations, point mutation), Satellite DNA.
3.4 Patterns of inheritance – autosomal, sex-chromosomal, multifactorial, polygenic, sex
determination, sex influenced.
3.5 Application of human genetics – consanguinity, inbreeding, genetic load, genetic counseling,
forensic anthropology, personal identification,
paternity identification, DNA fingerprinting, dermatoglyphics.

4. Human variation :

4.1 Concept of Race, racism.
4.2 Basis of variation – Morphological (hair, eye) metric (stature, head shape), Polymorphic (genetic
marker) – blood group (ABO, Rh), Hb, PGM, HP, Y-chromosome STR, mtDNA.
4.3 Concept of Human physique and somatotype.
4.4  Concept of ethnic groups – Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid, Australoid.

5. Human Growth and Nutrition :

5.1Concept of human growth, stages of growth – Pre-natal, Post-natal, Adolescent.
5.2 Factors affecting the growth and development – genetic, environmental, nutritional, socio-
5.3 Methodology of growth study.

6. Concept of Health and disease :

6.1 Concept of Communicable and Non-Communicable diseases. (Malaria and Type-2 diabetes
respectively). Nutrition Deficiency related diseases.
6.2 Nutrition – the concept of Macro and Micronutrients and Deficiency.

7. Human adaptation :

7.1 Concept of Human adaptation and acclimatization – hot, cold and high altitude. Bergman’s and
Allen’s Rules.
7.2 Anthropometry and its uses in understanding human adaptation (BMI and CI), Physiological
variable (blood pressure, pulse rate), Body composition (fat patterning).

8. Cultural evolution :

8.1 Tool typology and technology of tool manufacturing.
8.2 Excavation, Exploration, Site survey, Application of GIS
8.3 Concept of Dating: Absolute (C14, K-Ar) Relative (Dendrochronology and Stratigraphy).
8.4 Features and distribution of prehistoric cultures with reference to India and Europe :
(a) Paleolithic
(b) Mesolithic
(c) Neolithic
(d) Chalcolithic
(e) Iron Age.

9. Theories and concepts of culture and society :

9.1 A brief outline of Anthropological Theories: Evolutionism, Diffusionism, Functionalism,
Structuralism, Symbolism and Interpretative Approach, Post-structuralism and Post-modernism –
Hermeneutics and Phenomenological Anthropology.
9.2 Concept (brief outline): Social structure, Social organization, Gender, Institution, Group,

10. Culture and civilization :

10.1 Definition and features of culture and civilization.
10.2 Cultural relativism, Acculturation, Enculturation, Diffusion, Cultural lag, World view, symbols.
10.3 Anthropological approaches to the study of civilization.

11. Elements of social organization :

11.1 Family – Definition, Types, functions, recent changes.
11.2 Marriage – Definition, Types, functions, recent changes.
Marriage payments (dowry and bridewealth). Incest regulation, Preferential and prescribed forms of
11.3 Kinship – Definition of the kinship system. Importance, Types of kinship systems, kin term
11.4 Rules of Descent and alliance, Rules of residence, Descent groups.

12.  Economic Anthropology :

12.1 Concept and approaches.
12.2 Major ways of subsistence – Hunting-gathering, Pastoralism, Horticulture, and Settled Agriculture.
12.3 Production, Distribution (Reciprocity, Market exchange, Re-distribution), Consumption, Gift
12.4 Peasant.

13. Political anthropology :

13.1 Definition and approach.
13.2 Power, authority, social control, law, social sanction, governance.
13.3 Concepts of Band, Tribe, Chiefdom, and State.
13.4 Political movement – Approaches of study, Types of socio-political movements (Revitalization,
Messianic, Social solidarity, regional and Ethnic).
13.5 Ethnicity – Definition, the concept of the ethnic boundary.

14. Anthropology of religion :

14.1 Definition of religion, functions of religion.
14.2 Approaches to the study of religion (intellectual, psychological, functional, interpretative).
14.3 Concepts: Myth, magic, witchcraft, sorcery, taboo, totem, divination, rituals, symbolism in
14.4 Religious specialists – shaman, witch-doctor, priest.

15. Social stratification :

15.1 Definition and features.
15.2 Theories/approaches.
15.3 Types – Caste and class.
15.4 Concepts: Status, role, age-set/age-grade, social mobility.

16. Ecological anthropology :

16.1 Definition, scope, and approaches/methods of ecological anthropology.
16.2 Concept of cultural ecology.

17. Emerging fields of social-cultural anthropology :

17.1 Development anthropology – Definition and scope, development, globalization.
17.2 Legal anthropology and Human Rights.
17.3 Anthropology of communication – visual anthropology, mass media, popular culture.
17.4 Anthropology of gender.

18. Basic methods of data collection and interpretation :

18.1 Qualitative and quantitative approaches, ethnography, fieldwork.
18.2 Basic methods/techniques of data collection – observation (special reference participant
observation), interview, case study, schedule, questionnaire, genealogy, PRA, and RRA.
18.3 Application of statistical principles – Descriptive statistics – central tendency (mean, median,
mode), standard deviation, standard error, Testing of hypothesis: t-test, chi-square test.

Paper-II :

1. History and Development of Anthropology in India :

1.1 Colonialism and Anthropology in India.
1.2 Phases of development and major trends of Anthropology in India.
1.3 The idea of the Indian tradition of Anthropology. Contribution of Indian scholars: S.C.Roy, N.K. Bose, M.N.
Srinivas, D.N. Majumdar, T.C. Das, S.C. Sinha and S.S. Sarkar.

2. Evolution of Indian culture and civilization :

2.1 Prehistoric cultures: Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Iron age.
2.2 Indus Valley Civilization (origin, distribution, features with special reference to architecture,
socio-economic and religious; decline; Indus script.)

2.3 Vedic society (early and late): Society, economy, and polity.
2.4 Contribution of tribal cultures to Indian civilization.
2.5 Ethnoarchaeology in India with special reference to mortuary practices and
megalithic burials.

3. The emergence of man in India and contemporary variation :

3.1 Fossil remains in India: Ramapithecus, Narmada man.
3.2 Classification of Indian population: H.H. Risley, B.S. Guha, and S.S. Sarkar.
3.3 Contemporary classification based on morphology, anthropometry, and genetic
markers (ABO, Hb, HP, mtDNA).

4. Demographic Profile of India :

4.1 Demography: concept, theories, and methods.
4.2 Structure and features of the Indian population; Rates and Ratios: Fertility, Mortality; Factors
influencing fertility and mortality. Dynamics of demography in rural, urban and tribal contexts. Migration
and effects of migration.
4.3 Linguistic elements in the Indian population (Grierson and S.K.Chatterjee).

5. Anthropological approaches to Indian civilization :

5.1 Cultural categories of ancient India: Varnashram, Purushartha, Karma and
5.2 Caste system – origin, features, functions, and change in the caste system, Dominant
Caste, Jajmani system.
5.3 Structure of Indian civilization: Theoretical understanding (R.Redfield, N.K.Bose).
5.4 Concepts for understanding Indian civilization: Sanskritization, Universalization-Parochialization,
Tribe-peasant & Tribe-caste continuum, State Formation, and Sacred Complex.
5.5 Idea of folk and folk culture, folkloric elements in Indian culture (proverbs, folksong, folk art with
special reference to West Bengal), folklore and identity, and performances.
5.6 Impact of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Christianity on Indian society.

6. Aspects of an Indian village :

6.1 Development of village study in India and its significance.
6.2 Types of the village, the social organization of Indian village (agricultural).
6.3 Concepts developed through village studies in India.
6.4 Changes in rural society in post-Independent India.

7. Weaker sections :

7.1 Concepts of SC, ST, OBC, minority, women, children, aged – status, constitutional provisions,
problems, programs of development.
7.2 Linguistic minority and its problems.

8. The tribal situation in India :

8.1 tribes. Ethnic strains in the Indian population, Geographical, Economic and linguistic distribution of Indian
8.2 Major problems of Indian tribes with special reference to the issues of land and forest.
8.3 Plan and programs for the development of the STs; problems/critique of tribal development;
five-year plans and Indian tribes – a review.
8.4 Constitutional safeguards for STs, 5th and 6th Schedules.
8.5 Socio-economic changes in the tribal milieu – Impact of urbanization, industrialization, forest policy,
development projects on tribal people. Changes in tribal society in colonial and post-Independent periods.
Impact of modern democratic institutions on the traditional political system.
8.6 Tribal movement (Nature and distribution), Emergence of Ethnicity, Issues of Identity, Tribe and
Nation-State, Indian National Movement and Indian tribes, Regionalism, Jharkhand movement, Santal

9. Anthropology of development:

9.1 Critique, approaches, issues of women development, cultural factors
displacement and rehabilitation, sustainable development, an alternative to development.
9.2 Role of NGO in development.
9.3  Role of anthropology in development.

10. Emerging issues in Indian Anthropology:

10.1 Human Rights and advocacy of anthropology in the contexts of women, children, health, and
10.2 Social-cultural dimensions of health: Bio-medical, medical anthropology, and ethno medicine.
10.3 Issues in context: Sect, Cult, Religions pluralism in India, Visual image and Indian society, Public
Culture in India, Refugee, Civil Society, Violence, Traditional Knowledge.

Shami Ibrahim

Shami Ibrahim is currently working in Central Bureau of Narcotics. He joined Indian Navy in Jan 2021. Medical board out due to injury in training. Cleared UPSC CDS in 2022. Loves playing chess ♟️

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