Political science and international relations as an Optional Subject For UPSC

Political Science is very popular optional subjects in the exam. In recent years, there are many UPSC Toppers who opted for Political Science as their optional. Political Science is one of the most essential and informative subjects that a civil service aspirant needs to be aware of for his or her future as a civil servant. The political science optional helps aspirants to understand the country’s political framework and also world politics.

Political Science Optional syllabus contains the topics such as theories and philosophies of different schools like Liberal, Neoliberal, Marxism, Colonial and Post-Colonial, Feminist and so on in the first paper, as well as Indian polity and governance. Besides, the second paper is a comprehensive study on international politics and its effect on India.

Advantages of Taking Political Science as an Optional

  • The syllabus of Political Science overlaps with other GS Papers and the study material is easily available for the aspirants.
  • The syllabus overlaps with the IAS Political Science syllabus covered during the preparation of Prelims.
  • Having a grasp of Political Science will help in the preparation of Current Affairs.
  • The syllabus includes basic concepts and terminologies of Political Science used in day-to-day life.
  • It is also helpful in interview. With this subject as optional, candidates will have a clearer idea of the fundamentals and form their answer on a solid base instead of giving vague, unimpressive answers.

Disadvantages of Taking Political Science as an Optional

  • The non-Political Science background students might find the subject hard due to theories and jargons
  • The syllabus for Political Science UPSC is still very vast.
  • It does take a considerable amount of time and dedication to cover the whole syllabus along with linkage with current affairs.
  • It is not the most scoring paper among all the Optional subjects that UPSC has.

Political science and International relations Exam Pattern: –

The Union Public Service Commission offers a list of 48 optional subjects. The aspirants have to choose one optional subject from for the UPSC IAS Mains exams. UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam Optional Subject consists of 2 papers. Each paper is of 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks.


Paper I Syllabus:

Political Theory and Indian Politics

1.Politicaltheory meaning and ap-proaches

2.Theories of the state: Liberal, Neoliberal, Marxist, Pluralist, Post-colonial and feminist.

3.Justice: Conceptions of justice with special reference to Rawl’s theory of justice and its communitarian critiques.

4.Equality: Social, political and economic;relationship between equality and freedom; Affirmative action.

5.Rights: Meaning and theories; different kinds of rights; concept of Human Rights.

6.Democracy: Classical and contemporary theories; different models of democracy as representative, participatory and deliberative.

7.Concept of power, hegemony, ideology and legitimacy.

8.Political Ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Gandhism and Feminism.

9.Indian Political Thought: Dharamshastra, Arthashastra and Buddhist traditions ; Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, S r i Aurobindo, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar,M.N. Roy .

10.Western Political Thought :Plato ,Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, John,S. Mill, Marx, Gramsci, Hannah Arendt.

 Indian Government and politics

1.Indian Nationalism: Political Strategies of India’s Freedom struggle : constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience ; millitant and revolutionary movements, Peasant and workers’ movements.

Perspectives on Indian National Movement: Liberal, Socialist and Marxist; Radical humanist and Dalit.

2.Making of the Indian Constitution: Legacies of the British rule; different social and political perspectives.

3.Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: The Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Duties, Directive Principles; Parliamentary System and Amendment Procedures; Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine.

4.Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and Supreme Court.

Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and High Courts.

5.Grassroots Democracy: Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government; significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments; Grassroot movements.

6.Statutory Inst i tut ions/Commissions: Election Commission, Comptroller and Auditor General, Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Comission for scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women; National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Backward Classes Commission.

7.Federalism: Constitutional provisions; changing nature of centre-state relations; integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations; inter-state disputes.

8.Planning and Economic Development : Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives; role of planning and public sector; Green Revolution, land reforms and agrarian relations; liberalilzation and economic reforms.

9.Caste, Religion and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.

10.Party System: National and regional political parties, ideological and social bases of parties; patterns of coalition politics; Pressure groups, trends in electoral behaviour; changing socio- economic profile of Legislators.

11.Social Movements: Civil liberties and human rights movements; women’s movements; environmentalist movements

 Paper II Syllabus:  

Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics:

  1. Comparative Politics:Nature and major approaches; political economy and political sociology perspectives; limitations of the comparative method.

2.State in comparative perspective: Characteristics and changing nature of the State in capitalist and socialist economies, and, advanced industrial and developing societies.

  1. Politics of Representation and Participation: Political parties, pressure groups and social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.
  2. Globalisation: Responses from developed and developing societies.
  3. Approaches to the Study of International Relations:Idealist, Realist, Marxist, Functionalist and Systems theory.
  4. Key concepts in International Relations: National interest, Security and power; Balance of power and deterrence; Transnational actors and collective security; World capitalist economy and globalisation.
  5. Changing International Political Order: Rise of super powers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, arms race and Cold War; nuclear threat;

Non-al igned movement : Aims and achievements;

Collapse of the Soviet Union; Unipolarity and American hegemony; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.

  1. Evolution of the International Economic System:From Brettonwoods to WTO; Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); Third World demand for new international economic order; Globalisation of the world economy.
  2. United Nations:Envisaged role and actual record; specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; need for UN reforms.
  3. Regionalisation of World Politics: EU, ASEAN, APEC, SAARC, NAFTA.
  4. Contemporary Global Concerns:Democracy, human rights, environment, gender justice, terrorism, nuclear proliferation.

India and the World:

  1. Indian Foreign Policy:Determinants of foreign policy; institutions of policy-making; continuity and change.
  2. India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement: Different phases; current role
  3. India and South Asia:

Regional Co-operation: SAARC – past performance and future prospects.

South Asia as a Free Trade Area.

India’s “Look East” policy.

Impediments to regional co-operation: river water disputes; illegal cross-border migration; ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; border disputes.

  1. India and the Global South: Relations with Africa and Latin America; leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations.
  2. India and the Global Centres of Power: USA, EU, Japan, China and Russia.
  3. India and the UN System: Role in UN Peace-keeping; demand for Permanent Seat in the Security Council.
  4. India and the Nuclear Question:Changing perceptions and policy.
  5. Recent developments in Indian Foreign policy:India’s position on the recent crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Asia, growing relations with US and Israel; vision of a new world order.