Any civil service aspirant must have a stronghold over the fundamentals of Political science and has to be well aware of the political situation and the changes around him/her. Thus POlitical Science has always been one of the most popular optional subjects in UPSC Mains. Many candidates sign up for Political Science as it is not only an easy subject but also has more than half of the syllabus overlapping with the syllabus for the other compulsory papers.

Advantages of Choosing Political Science as an Optional

  • Indian Polity is an important and compulsory part of UPSC Prelims.
  • If any candidate chooses Political Science International Relations as their UPSC Mains Optional subject, the syllabus aligns with their study of IAS Main with IAS Prelims thus saving a lot of time.
  • It’s one of the easiest humanities subjects. Aspirants generally find it easy to comprehend and study this subject even if they haven’t studied political science in the past. The concepts are general and easy. Anyone who follows the news religiously would be able to understand the concepts fairly well and quickly and study this subject.
  • Though the syllabus is vast and extensive, the maximum part of the syllabus is covered by the UPSC Prelims syllabus and General Studies Syllabus.
  • The knowledge gained through this subject can also help in your IAS Current Affairs preparation.
  • In the IAS Interview round, having a good knowledge of topics in Polity such as governance, international relations, etc. can give a very good impression.

Also Read: How To Efficiently Choose Your Optional?

Disadvantages of Political Science

  • Political science has a lot of theory-based concepts which can become tedious at some point.
  • The answers should be presented in a very crisp manner and not everyone has the ability to be eloquent and well versed with this skill.
  • Memorizing scholarly views is needed however personal opinions and uniques reforms to suggest for issues are what get you marks.
  • When you compare with more technical subjects like maths, science subjects, it is especially important to present your answer in a really good and effective way hence extensive answer writing practice is needed.
  • It’s difficult to score more compared to other subjects.

Tips on How to Prepare for Political Science

  • Make sure your General Papers and Political Science Optional Papers should look different answer wise.
  • Be diplomatic in approach and use facts, case studies and technical keywords.
  • Use quotations
  • Give examples from current affairs.
  • Make sure you’re updated with any changes happening as whatever you say should be relevant.
  • Read editorial blogs and practice writing answers.
  • Solve past UPSC Political Science Optional questions and sign up for mocks and tests series.
  • Make your notes and use cue cards and mind maps.

Political Science Optional Syllabus

The syllabus for the optional can be divided into two parts according to the two papers that candidates have to appear for their optional subject.

Part I: Political Theory and Indian Politics
  • Political theory
  • Theories of the state
  • Justice
  • Equality
  • Rights
  • Democracy
  • Concept of power, hegemony, ideology, and legitimacy.
  • Political Ideologies
  • Indian Political Thought
  • Western Political Thought

Indian Government and Politics

  • Indian Nationalism
  • Making of the Indian Constitution
  • Salient Features of the Indian Constitution
  • Principal Organs of the Union Government and Principal Organs of the State Government
  • Grassroots Democracy
  • Statutory Institutions/Commissions
  • Federalism
  • Planning and Economic Development
  • Caste, Religion, and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.
  • Party System
  • Social Movements
Part II: Comparative Politics and International Relations
  • Comparative Politics
  • State in a comparative perspective
  • Politics of Representation and Participation
  • Approaches to the Study of International Relations
  • Key concepts in International Relations
  • Changing International Political Order
  • Evolution of the International Economic System
  • United Nations
  • Regionalization of World Politics
  • Contemporary Global Concerns

India and the World

  • Indian Foreign Policy
  • India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement
  • India and South Asia
  • India and the Global South
  • India and the Global Centres of Power
  • India and the UN System
  • India and the Nuclear Question
  • Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy

Also Read: Complete Syllabus Of Political Science For UPSC Optional Papers

Recommended Book List

NCERT Books for Polity:

  • Polity: NCERT Standard IX – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – I
  • Polity: NCERT Standard X – Political Science: Democratic Politics Part – II
  • Polity: NCERT Standard XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work
  • Polity: NCERT Standard XI – Political Science: Political Theory
  • Polity: NCERT Standard XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics
  • Polity: NCERT Standard XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence

Also Read: How To Make Notes For NCERT Books?

General Books for Political Science:

  • Our Constitution By Subhash C Kashyap
  • Our Parliament By Subhash C Kashyap
  • Perspective on Constitution (ED) by P.M Bakshi
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikanth

Other Books for Reference:

  • An Introduction to Constitution by D.D. Basu
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
  • Indian Govt and Politics by M.P. Singh, Himanshu Roy
  • International Politic by Bookhives
  • World Politics in the Twentieth Century by Paul Kenedy


It is advised by professionals and past candidates that it is always better for one to choose their optional as per their interest and not because someone advised them to. Though Political science is a subject that is relevant and relatable, it is better to think it over before you choose it. It is dynamic in nature, makes it easier to bridge the gap between static and contemporary issues but if you do not have the aptitude for it you might end yourself in trouble instead. The optional papers comprise 500 of your marks so do not be swayed by pressure or make any haste but take your time choosing the best subject for you.

Also Read : Sociology Optional Question Paper: How to Prepare for UPSC 2021 Sociology Paper

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Political Science Optional Syllabus for UPSC: Start Your Preparation for UPSC 2021
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Political Science Optional Syllabus for UPSC: Start Your Preparation for UPSC 2021
Start your preparation to take your civil service exam next year and decide upon a subject for your optional subject. Read to know more about Political Science as one of the most popular options.
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UPSC Pathshala
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