As aspirants of the UPSC examinations, we are all aware of the vast UPSC syllabus and the extent of knowledge that one needs to be prepared with, in order to crack civil services. We know of the current affairs, general studies and other subjects that the civil service preparations entail.

One quick look at the syllabus and subjects can tell us the amount of social science and humanities subjects like history optional, political science, sociology, philosophy and psychology etc, one needs to go through and be prepared with. In this respect, students from social sciences and humanities have an extra edge and advantage if they prepare for the civil service examinations.

Even the current affairs that one has to study in order to prepare for the civil service exams have an obvious and a deep-rooted link to the social, political, historical and economical milieu and contexts of the country and the world that students of social science and humanities are aware of and familiar with.

UPSC Optional Subject

If one thinks about history, an important part of the social science discipline forms a major part of the prescribed syllabus of the civil services examinations for both the preliminary as well as the mains exam. The students of history will have an understanding of the subject; they will have a certain orientation as well as a certain familiarity with the subjects.

Having a familiarity with the subject of history will give them a baseline to start thinking of other subjects, a certain starting point, as well some background of a lot of other things that they need to study for the UPSC examinations

Humanities Optional for UPSC

Students who have studied philosophy will also have a similar advantage as the students of history as they will have in place a certain way of meaning-making and understanding of many concepts and issues around them. And in a larger context, these students also have some familiarity with ideas of ethics, dilemmas, morality and philosophical thoughts.

Political Science Optional for UPSC

Students who have studied political science have an edge in many ways in the civil services examinations. They can use their familiarity of the concepts of political science like political theory, political philosophy and ideals of democracy, secularism, power relations and so on to answer the questions about power structures, international relations, aspects of democracy, political administration and so on.

Students of political science can use their knowledge of the subject to develop an insight about the Indian democracy, Indian state and mechanisms of government and its relationship with other nations.

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Sociology UPSC Optional Subject

People who have studied sociology are always at a lot of advantage if they prepare for civil services examinations. Their familiarity with the concepts of society, formations of social relations, civil society etc will give them a base to interact with other subjects and help them relate to the concepts and ideas of other subjects.

Sociology students will have a certain understanding of religion, kinship studies, rural structures and caste structures which will help them to understand the current affairs with some depth.

Advantage for Students of Humanities Subjects

Students who have studied the social sciences and humanities subjects can also take up the subjects that they have studied as to their mains’ subjects. This will certainly ease out some burden.

Even if they take any other social science subject as their mains’ subject, they will not be unfamiliar with discipline as such and will have a certain orientation and base their understanding of those subjects. These students will enjoy a certain advantage in the analysis and critical reading of current affairs and general studies.

This kind of advantage will certainly not be enjoyed by the majority of the students of other disciplines who are UPSC  civil services examinations aspirants.

Other Merits for Students of Humanities Subjects

This advantage is huge as it saves the time a student might have to spend on making a baseline to make an understanding of a lot of things that one has to study. This will save a lot of time and energy that one would have to spend on doing some background reading to be able to start comprehending and developing an understanding of the happenings of currents affairs and issues of general studies like ethics.

The kind of UPSC syllabus and approach that civil services examinations have, it is looking for candidates who will not just look at concepts, events and other information presented to them, but be able to look beyond the obvious observation and develop an outlook of clarity, depth and critique towards things and events.


This kind of analytical and critical lens is present with students familiar with social science and humanity disciplines through any of the above-mentioned subjects.

This is a clear advantage that students of social science and humanities have and thus it is very very beneficial for them if they prepare for civil services examinations. They have a great chance and probability to be successful at the UPSC examinations.

Also Read : Who are Civil Servants? 10 Most Illustrious Civil Servants of India

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Graduate in Humanities Subject? Here's Why You Should Go for UPSC Exam
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Graduate in Humanities Subject? Here's Why You Should Go for UPSC Exam
Here are the complete details of how graduates in humanities subjects can ace Uthe UPSC exam. Click here to find out the advantages of UPSC preparation for humanities students.
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About the Author

Akshay Palande

Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.

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