The Civil Services Examination is crowned as one of the most renowned competitive examinations conducted by UPSC or the Union Public Service Commission in India. Every year, lakhs of aspiring students across the nation attempt these examinations in a famously competitive manner.

This renowned examination of Indian Civil Services is a shining dream for lakhs and lakhs of young minds of the nation. The dream of clearing the IAS and UPSC examination is ignited in students’ minds right since their school and college days.

Having proper knowledge and importance of every subject in the UPSC examination is the first step to succeed in it.

One such subject is quite in the talk these days due to its optional role in the exam syllabus. Political Science! Being a UPSC aspirant, you might come across frequently asked questions such as – ‘How is Political Science as an optional for UPSC?’

Peek Into the Subject of Political Science

UPSC gives students the freedom to choose their preferred optional subjects among the list of 48 optional subjects in the UPSC Mains examinations. Among these subjects, Political Science and International relations stand as the most liked optional subjects by students in the majority.

Most of the UPSC toppers from previous years had also chosen Political Science as optional. Due to its crisp and concise nature, this subject paves the way for neatness and direct marks. A lot more virtues of this optional subject make it famous among students. This subject is further even well known and preferred among IAS aspirants.

Let us take a well-informed dive into the pros and cons of optionally pairing with Political Science and International Relations in your UPSC academics.

Advantages of Opting for Political Science UPSC Optional

Coincides Well with General Studies

Political science is one such subject that overlaps very well with subjects like General Studies. One can notice a significant overlapping of the two subjects in both preliminary as well as mains papers. General Studies 2 paper has a majority portion similar to Political Science as well.

This constitutes one of the major advantages of opting for Political Science and International Relations. You can integrate this knowledge, which will, in turn, result in saving your time and efforts.

Covers Aspects of Current Affairs

Political Science syllabus features topics and study aspects that have great relativity to current affairs. Paper 2 of Political Science flaunts a bulky current affairs section in its exam. Current affairs are one such cream subject in UPSC that never fails to show its appearance.

Hence, one need not study separately to learn the basics of current affairs if he/she completely goes through all the topics of Political science as their optional subject!

No Need of Background in Subject

One major highlight of Political Science optional UPSC subject is that you need not stress too much over it. It is not too technical or comprehensive. It is a crisp amalgamation of facts and events. It boosts your everyday skills and helps you gather basic information as a citizen.

You need not even have prior knowledge or any sort of expertise in this subject to score well in it. All you need is good reading and a detailed understanding of this optional subject. For this, it is important that students grab the best books in store for authentic and legitimate knowledge.

Aids Your UPSC Interview Preparation

Are you a UPSC or IAS aspirant? Preparing for its competitive and challenging interviews might be your biggest milestone. A good grip on concepts of political Sciences and international relations will surely boost your interview skills in UPSC.

Interviews are well known to test your current affairs knowledge and its connection with International Relations. These topics are covered in detail in the Political Science Papers. Hence, unlike other students, you need not study, especially for grasping the concepts and political theories pertaining to current affairs.

Disadvantages of Opting for Political Science

There is absolutely no doubt as to how beneficial Political Science is to play as your optional subject. However, it is necessary we also look at the other side of the coin to get a holistic view of the subject’s role.

Some challenges that you may face are :

  • Abundance of theory-based concepts.
  • Finding the right concise notes for elongated events.
  • Constant need for good writing and answer framing skills.
  • Research and accuracy are needed at all times.

UPSC Political Science Syllabus

In the UPSC main examination, the optional subject of Political Science comprises two papers, namely, Paper-I and Paper-II. Each of the two parts is presented as a paper of 250 marks. This sums up to a total of 500 marks.

Refer to the below brief for the UPSC Political Science syllabus:

Paper I

  • Political Theory – Meaning & Approach
  • Theories Of State
  • Concepts of justice paired with Rawl’s theory
  • Social, Political and Economic Equality
  • Different Kinds Of Rights and Human Rights
  • Classical and contemporary theories of Democracy
  • Concept of Power
  • Political ideologies and agendas
  • Western Political Theory – Plato, Aristotle, John Mill, Hobbes, Locke, etc.

Paper II 

  • Comparative Politics and its state
  • Politics Of Representation and Participation
  • Globalization
  • Highlights of International Relations
  • Changes in International order of politics.
  • Rise of Superpowers, bipolarity, arms race, cold war, nuclear-related threats, etc.
  • International Economic System and its Evolution.
  • Overall facts on UN
  • Regionalisation of World Politics

Political Science Books for UPSC

As discussed above, the optional subject of Political Science and International Relations does not require much background technical knowledge. If you read some of the important and productive political science books for UPSC, you will surely pass your optional with flying colours.

Some of the famous Political Science books for UPSC are Introduction to Constitution by D.D. Basu, Indian Polity by Laxmikanth, Global Politics by Andrew Heywood, and India’s Foreign Policy by V.P. Dutt


UPSC exams are the supreme exams in India. Valued at such a high stature, it also comes with competent hurdles. The candidate should be smart and follow the right tactics in order to score in UPSC smartly. One such smart way is to choose the most prominent optional subject that can yield maximum results at minimum efforts.

Political Science and International relations can be such optional subjects as it has much overlapping content to practice and also sets a good way to prepare for current affairs.

UPSC Pathshala will guide you through the best optional subject strategies and mentoring to help you succeed in UPSC exams. We offer top-of-the-line guidance and mentorship for all the aspirants trying to achieve their UPSC dream. Follow our regular newsletters and articles for more helpful blogs regarding UPSC preparation strategies and related content. Upgrade your preparations with our expert personal mentors and excellent video lectures, and see your UPSC mission reach success.

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How is Political Science as an Optional for UPSC? Pros & Cons of Selecting Political Science
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How is Political Science as an Optional for UPSC? Pros & Cons of Selecting Political Science
Find out the major advantages and disadvantages regarding how is political science as optional for UPSC? Read this for the UPSC Political Science syllabus.
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