International Relations is an important subject for the UPSC Civil Service Mains paper in General Studies Paper-II. The topics of international relations are India’s foreign policy, bilateral relations, regional cooperation, etc. To study this subject you will require some books.

You might ask- which are the best books for international relations? The answers may vary but you will be provided with a list of books that are considered as best books for international relations. In this article, we will take a tour of the best International Relations books for UPSC.

UPSC Syllabus for IR

The IR section is included in GS Paper I of the UPSC Prelims as “Current events of national and international relevance.” It’s clear that it’s related to the current events portion.

IR is one of the General Studies Paper II of the UPSC Mains test.

You can be asked questions on the following topics:

# India and its neighbourhood

# India’s relations with its neighbours are strained.

# Groupings and accords involving India and/or impacting India’s interests at the bilateral, regional, and global levels.

# The impact of developed and developing country policies and politics on India’s interests

# Important international institutions, agencies and fora

# Structure

# Mandate

International Relations Books for UPSC

If you’re thinking of making a genuine effort at UPSC training, these UPSC books must be your first companions. Reading these International Relations UPSC books will provide applicants with ample knowledge on the topics described in the UPSC IAS Exam Syllabus. Here is a list of the five most suggested books on International Relations for you.

Also Read: Check-out these Political Science Optional Books: UPSC Main 2021 Preparation Guide

Challenge and Strategy by Sikri Rajiv

The book deals with India’s political ties and international affairs. It is a must for people who are studying international agreements and who want to learn about the political and economic status of the region. This book is especially popular because the author Rajiv Sikri was part of Indian foreign services himself and the revelations he made on Indian foreign agreements made it even more worthwhile.

Comparative Politics by J.C. Johari

This book is a general analysis and is not limited to any geographical limits.  The emphasis is primarily on the policies and methods that are applied to the implementation of country policies. The author tries to detail some of the important aspects that students in this field and lay readers may find interesting.

Does The Elephant Dance? by David M. Malone

The book explores how foreign policies impact domestic policy, internal and external security concerns, and national and international economic factors. This book is important for students, professionals, and others who want to stay up-to-date on the country’s political scenarios and other current events.

International Relations Topics for UPSC

Here is a table of all the important topics covered in International Relations:

Iran Nuclear Deal Immunization Agenda 2030
World Cities Cultural Forum Codex Alimentarius Commission
CPTPP India-Mauritius Relations
Suez Canal Blockage 2021 Afghanistan Peace Process
Myanmar Coup D’etat 2021 UN75 Declaration
Abraham Accords Five Eyes Alliance
Kalapani Territory Issue China’s Five Finger Policy
Gilgit Baltistan Issue Oslo Peace Accords
Beca Agreement Currency Manipulation Watchlist
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM): Yugoslavia BRICS Summit 2020
WTO’s Latest Doha Round World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
WTO – World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference
World Sustainable Development Summit 2018 World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict World Investment Report 2020
World Health Organisation (WHO) India-Israel Relations
Israel-Palestine Conflict World Happiness Report 2021
World Food Programme (WFP) World Federation Of Trade Unions
Conflicts in West Asia World Employment & Social Outlook 2021
World Confederation Of Labour World Customs Organisation
United Nations University (UNU) – UPSC Notes United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
United Nations (UN) Principal Organs United Nations Special Committee Peacekeeping Operations
United Nations Peacekeeping United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) United Nations: UPSC Notes
UN Alliance of Civilizations United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development
White Shipping Agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership: Notes for UPSC
Syrian Refugee crisis The World Bank Group On Governance
Heart of Asia Diplomatic Immunity: Notes for UPSC
Blue Dot Network Teesta Water Dispute
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ashgabat Agreement
India – Pakistan Relations India-Oman Relations
NATO India – US Relations
India – France Relations India – Japan Relations
India-Bhutan Relations India – China Relations
India-Afghanistan Relations India — Australia Relations
India-Myanmar Relations India – Africa Relations
India-Maldives Relations List of Joint Military Exercises of the Indian Army
Indo-US Military Agreements LEMOA
India-China border clash India – Taiwan Ties
Act East Policy India’s bilateral relations
Look East Policy India-Malaysia relations
India-Nepal relations Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
India-Pakistan relations India-Sri Lanka relations
India-Oman relations India-Bangladesh relations
Wassenaar Arrangement Missile Technology Control Regime
Australia Group India-Mexico relations
India-Vietnam relations List of International Organizations’ Reports
Global Indices and India’s Rankings Difference Between UK, Great Britain and England
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA)
Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
SAARC Indonesia
Rwandan Genocide Important Headquarters of International Organisations

Also Read: How to Make Notes from NCERT for UPSC? Use NCERTs Efficiently to Train For UPSC

How Questions are Asked?

The type of questions in the Prelims is plain and easy. The questions usually cover a wide range of topics, including international organisations in which India engages or is affected by their dynamics; bilateral and regional memorandums of understanding and treaties and agreements approved by India or impacting India’s interests and diplomacy values; and geopolitical changes in India’s immediate or extended neighbourhood.

Questions on the Year 2018

For example, in 2018, India was attempting to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group on a diplomatic level (NSG). The NSG’s admission has far-reaching ramifications for India’s nuclear programme. In the UPSC Prelims test, the UPSC presented a question about the effects of India entering the NSG.

Questions on the Year 2019

Likewise, the war between Palestinians in Gaza and Israel kept the Israel-Palestine topic in the news throughout 2019. In the 2019 Prelims, the UPSC offered a question about the “Two-state solution.”

One thing may be fairly drawn from the examples of the two questions above. The current events are the focus of the Prelims test.

Political Science and International Books for UPSC

Books for Paper I

# An Introduction To Constitution by D.D. Basu

# An Introduction To Political Theory by O.P Gauba

# Fifty Major Political Thinkers by Ian Adams And R W Dyson

# A History Of Political Thought: Plato To Marx by Subrata Mukherjee And Sushila Ramaswamy

# An Oxford Companion To Politics In India by Niraja Gopal Jayal And Pratap Bhanu Mehta

# Foundations Of Indian Political Thought by V.R Mehta

# A New Look At Modern Indian History by B.L Grover And Alka Mehta

# India’s Struggle For Independence  by Bipan Chandra

# Indian Government And Politics by B L Fadia

Books for Paper II

# India’s Foreign Policy by V P Dutt

# International Organisations by Spectrum Books Publication

# International Relations by V N Khanna

# Challenge And Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri

# Does The Elephant Dance?: Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy by David M. Malone

# Global Politics by Andrew Heywood

# MPS-004 Comparative Politics: Issues And Trends by Expert Panel Of GPH

Also Read: What are the Uniform Civil Code Questions for UPSC? Basic Structure and UPSC Answer Formation

H3 Preparation Strategy for International Relations

International Relations is a subject of the UPSC General Studies Paper-II. Despite the fact that the paper is primarily separated into Polity and Governance, questions worth 100 marks or more are posed from the IR section. As a result, this subject must be thoroughly prepared. Here’s how to ace UPSC preparation for International Relations:

Mind-Map The Syllabus

Firstly, it is critical to mind-map the UPSC Mains curriculum for International Relations. While reading regular novels or newspapers, this will help you to get a good notion of what to read.

Make Short and Concise Notes

Because there is no single book that has all of the information, it is recommended to create brief and succinct notes on this subject. Furthermore, the UPSC’s IR section is very dynamic and heavily reliant on current events. To compile your own notes, watch the news and the official website of the Department of External Affairs in addition to the recommended standard literature.

Revise Optimally

It’s normal to be perplexed because it concerns connections with all of the major countries. As a result, constantly updating your notes to the best of your ability to recall everything you’re learning on a daily basis.

Solve Previous Year’s Questions

The most essential thing now is to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked on the exam and prepare responses appropriately. This is a result of completing the previous year’s question papers. It will provide you with first-hand experience with how the questions are asked. As a result, you’ll be more prepared to respond to questions on this topic.


Books for IAS are considered to be inescapably essential during the preparation of UPSC. No one may claim that he or she did not review the appropriate books for the UPSC exam during the preparation. Toppers and teachers prioritize reading the best books available on the market, both online and offline.

The basic principles are the same in all books, but the implementation of the principle makes all the difference, so go through political science and international relations books for UPSC to boost your preparation. You can also check out the courses for each UPSC subject on UPSC Pathshala.

Also Read : Books for Public Administration Optional: Tips to Score High in UPSC Optional

Content Protection by
International Relations Books for UPSC: Books That Will Help You Prepare for UPSC
Article Name
International Relations Books for UPSC: Books That Will Help You Prepare for UPSC
International Relations is one of the important optional subjects in UPSC. Find a list of International Relations Books for UPSC in this post and prepare strategically.
Publisher Name
UPSC Pathshala

About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

View All Articles