Is Political Science best optional for IAS? What are the success rate & advantages?

One of the most prestigious competitive exams held by UPSC, the Union Public Service Commission, in India is the Civil Services Examination. These exams are taken each year by thousands of aspirant students from all over the country in a fiercely competitive environment.

For millions of bright young brains around the country, the prestigious Indian Civil Services test represents the fulfillment of a bright dream. Since their years in high school and college, students have had the aspiration of passing the IAS and UPSC exams. The first step to passing the UPSC examination is to have a thorough awareness of each subject’s significance.

Due to its optional placement on the exam syllabus, one such subject is currently the talk of the town. the study of politics! You may encounter frequently asked questions as a UPSC candidate, such as “How is Political Science as an Optional for UPSC?”

In the 48 optional subjects available for selection in the UPSC Mains exams, students are allowed to select the subjects of their choosing. Political science and international relations are the two of these subjects that the majority of students find to be the most enjoyable.

Most of the previous year’s top UPSC scorers had also selected Political Science as an option. This subject allows for neatness and straightforward marks because of how succinct and clear it is. This elective course is well-known among students due to a number of additional benefits. Even more, IAS applicants are familiar with and favor this topic.

Advantages of Opting for Political Science

1. Compatible with General Studies

One discipline that has significant overlap with others like General Studies is political science. In both the preliminary and main papers, there is a clear overlap between the two themes. The majority of the General Studies 2 paper is comparable to the political science component as well.

One of the main benefits of choosing political science and international relations is this. You can apply this knowledge, which will enable you to save time and effort.

2. Features Elements of Current Affairs

Topics and study areas in the political science curriculum are highly relevant to current events. In its exam, Paper 2 of Political Science displays a sizable current affairs part. One of the top subjects in the UPSC, current events, always makes an appearance.

Therefore, if one completely completes all of the themes in Political science as their optional subject, they do not need to study separately to acquire the fundamentals of current affairs!

3. No Prior Knowledge of the Topic is Required

The fact that you don’t need to worry too much about the optional UPSC topic of political science is one of its primary highlights. It is not very complex or technical. It is a clear compilation of information and occurrences. It improves your everyday abilities and aids in your quest for fundamental knowledge as a citizen.

To perform well in this subject, you do not even need to have prior knowledge or any kind of skill in it. All you need is solid reading skills and a thorough knowledge of this elective subject. Students must choose the top books available for this to gain real information.

4. Prepares You for the UPSC Interview

Are you aiming for the UPSC or IAS? Perhaps your biggest accomplishment will be preparing for the difficult interviews. A solid understanding of political science and international relations ideas would undoubtedly improve your interviewing abilities for the UPSC.

Interviews are recognized for testing your familiarity with current events and how they relate to international relations. The Political Science Papers go into great length on these subjects. You, therefore, don’t need to study like other pupils, especially for understanding the ideas and political theories related to current affairs.


The optional Political Science subject in the UPSC main examination consists of two papers, Paper-1 and Paper-2. The two portions are each provided on a 250-mark paper. This totals 500 points overall.

Political Science – Syllabus – Paper 1

Political Theory and Indian Politics

  • Political Theory – Meaning, Definition, and Approaches
  • State Theories – Liberal, Neo-Liberal, Marxist, Feminist, Postcolonial, and Pluralist
  • Justice – Concept of Justice with special reference to Rawl’s theory of justice and its communitarian critiques
  • Equality – Social, political, and economic. Relationship between equality and freedom. Affirmative action.
  • Rights – Meaning and theories. Different kinds of rights. Concept of Human Rights
  • Democracy – Classical and contemporary theories. Democracy models like participatory, representative and deliberative.
  • Concept of Power – Hegemony, ideology, and legitimacy
  • Political Ideologies – Liberalism, Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, and Gandhism, etc.
  • Indian Political Thought – Dharmashastra Arthashastra and Buddhist Traditions. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Sir Aurobindo, MK Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, and MN Roy.
  • Western Political Thought – Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, John S. Mill, Marx, Aristotle, Gramsci, Hobbes, Hannah Arendt.

Indian Government and Politics

  • Indian Nationalism – India’s Freedom Struggle Political Strategies like mass Satyagraha, civil disobedience, Non-cooperation movement, revolutionary and militant movements, peasant movements, and worker movements. Indian National Movement Perspectives: Liberal, Marxist, Socialist and Radical and Humanist
  • Making of Indian Constitution – Legacies of British rule. Different social and political perspectives.
  • Features of Indian Constitution – Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, DPSPs, Parliamentary System, Judicial Review, Amendment Procedure, and Basic Structure.
  • Organs of Union Government – Role and actual working of Executive, Legislature, and Supreme Court.
  • Organs of State Government – Role and actual working of Executive, Legislature, and High Court.
  • Grassroots Democracy – Panchayati Raj Institutions. Municipal Government. Significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments. Movements at Grassroot level.
  • Statutory Institutions/Commissions – Election Commission of India. Comptroller and Auditor General. Finance Commission, UPSC. National Commission for Scheduled Castes. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. National Commission for Women. National Human Rights Commission. National Commission for Minorities. National Backward Classes Commission.
  • Federalism – Changing nature of center-state relations, regional aspirations, and inter-state disputes.
  • Planning and Economic Development – Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives. Role of planning and public sector. Green revolution. Land reforms. Agrarian relations. Liberalization and economic reforms.
  • Party System – National and regional political parties. Ideological and social bases of parties. Patterns of coalition politics. Pressure groups. Trends in electoral behavior. Changing socio-economic profile of legislators.
  • Social Movement – Civil liberties and human rights movements. Women’s movements. Environmentalist’s movements.

Political Science – Syllabus – Paper 2

Comparative Politics and International Relations

  • Comparative Politics – Nature and major approaches. Political economy and political sociology perspectives. Limitations of the comparative method
  • State in Comparative Perspective – Characteristics and changing nature of State in capitalist, socialist, advanced industrial and developing societies.
  • Politics of Representation and Participation – Political parties. Pressure groups. Social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.
  • Globalization – Responses from developed and developing societies
  • Approaches to Study of International Relations – Idealist, Realist, Marxist, Functionalist, and Systems theory.
  • Key Concepts in International Relations – National Interest. Security and power. Balance of power and deterrence. Transnational actors and collective security. World capitalist economy and globalization.
  • Changing International Political Order – Rise of superpowers, strategic and ideological bipolarity, arms race, cold war, and nuclear threat. Non-aligned movement; Aims and achievements. The collapse of Soviet Union: Unipolarity. American hegemony. Relevance of NAM in the contemporary world.
  • Evolution of International Economic System – Bretton woods to WTO. Socialist economies and Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Third World demand for new international economic order. Globalization of the world economy.
  • United Nations – Envisaged role and actual record. Specialized UN agencies – aims and functioning. Need for UN reforms.
  • World Politics Regionalization – European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN, and APEC, etc.
  • Contemporary Global Concerns – Democracy, Human Rights, Environment, Gender Justice terrorism, and nuclear proliferation.

India and the World

  • Indian Foreign Policy – Determinants of foreign policy. Institutions of policymaking. Continuity and change.
  • India’s Contribution to Non-Alignment Movement – Different phases. Current role
  • India and South Asia – Regional Cooperation: SAARC past performance and prospects. South Asia as a Free Trade Area India’s Look East Policy Impediments to regional cooperation: River water disputes, Illegal cross-border migration, Ethnic conflicts and insurgencies, Border disputes. Etc.
  • India and Global Centres of Power – USA, EU, Japan, China, and Russia
  • India and the UN system – Role of India in UN Peace Keeping. Demand for Permanent Seat in Security Council
  • India and Nuclear Question – Changing perceptions and policy
  • Recent developments in the Foreign Policy of India – India’s position on crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, and West Asia, etc. Growing relations with the US and Israel. A vision of new world order.


India’s top exams are those administered by UPSC. Given its high status, it also has some capable obstacles. To perform well on the UPSC, the candidate must be intelligent and use the proper strategies. It is, therefore, recommended to join a renowned IAS coaching institute. One such clever strategy is to select the most popular elective subject that can produce the most outcomes with the least amount of work.

Political science and international relations might be considered such optional disciplines because they provide a lot of complementary material to practice and also provide a useful framework for getting ready for current events.