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Preparation Strategy for Political Science Optional- UPSC Mains

Dec 16, 2021

Preparation Strategy for Political Science Optional- UPSC Mains

Governance, Administration, Law & Order are a few terms that are associated with a bureaucrat. For an aspiring Civil Services officer, it is paramount to understand Political Science and the political scenario at the state, centre, and international levels.  

Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) is one such optional whose syllabus either directly or indirectly overlaps with the majority of the UPSC CSE syllabus. Hence, it should be studied extensively during the UPSC exam preparation, if you choose this optional.

The interesting thing about this optional is that it can be easily studied even if you don’t have a Humanities background. All you need is to invest your energy in understanding things and gaining conceptual clarity.

Toppers with Political Science Optional

Not only the Political Science is a popular optional, but it is also the favorite of UPSC toppers too. The table given below shows the UPSC toppers who took Political Science as their optional and succeeded in the Civil Services examination with ease.

Gunjan Dwivedi20189
Ankit Pannu201731
Abhishek Sharma201769
Anand Vardhan20167
Sidharth B201615
Mirant Parikh201667
Tina Dabi20151
Karn Satyarthi20159
Umesh NSK201477

Also read: How to Prepare Governance for UPSC CSE Mains?

Advantages of Political Science Optional

Significant Overlapping with the GS Syllabus and Essay Paper

The significant overlap of the PSIR optional syllabus makes it a popular choice among civil services aspirants. For instance, Indian Polity in the Prelims and Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice & International relations are the major chunk of topics that the PSIR optional covers.

Feasible for Non-Humanities Background Students

This is another advantage of the PSIR optional. Students from any background can take this optional since it is a non-technical subject. All you would require will be the right training partner and the right study material like the one available on PrepLadder.

Helps in the UPSC Final Interview

Since PSIR is a dynamic subject and is strongly linked with Current Affairs, its adequate preparation and the right strategy will help you in the Final Interview. Proper understanding of the political theories helps aspirants to present their views in a more convincing way.

How to Prepare for Political Science Optional?

Preparation Strategy for Paper-I Section A (Political Theory and Indian Politics)

Your focus should be on completing the static part of the syllabus. Since there are many thinkers to study in Section A such as Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Marx, M K Gandhi, etc, you will need to develop a rational comprehension of the thought process of the thinkers. Get a conceptual clarity of each topic.

Also read: How to Prepare Indian Society for UPSC Mains

Preparation Strategy for Section B (Indian Government and Politics)

This is the section that mostly overlaps with the GS Paper 2 of UPSC Mains. Hence, referring to books such as M.Laxmikanth and other sources can help in effective communication.

Focus on the 2nd ARC recommendations and use quotes from political scholars such as Atul Kohli, Ramchandra Guha, Christophe Jaffrrelot, etc in your answers to make them more appealing.

Preparation Strategy for Paper-II (Comparative and International Politics)

Since Paper-II deals with International Relations and is current affairs oriented, it is imperative to read newspapers daily especially the World Page in a holistic manner(The Hindu/The Indian Express). Also, refer to important programs broadcasted on Sansad TV. 

Reading crucial editorials by prominent writers such as C RajaMohan, Brahma Chellaney, Shyma Saran will be an added advantage. While writing answers, make sure the answers are India-centric and your answers should present Indian perspective. 

If you are presenting your answer with an argument, make sure to mention the names of those who quoted them. 

Recommended Books for Political Science Preparation

Books for Paper-I

  • Indian Government and Politics by BL Fadia
  • A History of Political Thought: Plato to Marx- Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy
  • An Introduction to Political Theory by Andrew Heywood

Books for Paper-II

  • India’s Foreign Policy by Shashi Tharoor
  • Oxford Handbook on Indian Foreign Policy
  • Does the Elephant Dance? By David Malone
  • The Globalization of World Politics by Baylis & Smith

We hope this article will streamline your PSIR preparation for the UPSC Mains preparation and will help you to give your best when writing the exam.

Cracking UPSC Mains requires discipline, perseverance, and most importantly assistance of a reliable training partner. For a long time, PrepLadder has proved to be the most productive preparation partner for aspiring Civil servants across the country.

PrepLadder has brought a revolution in the field of UPSC Civil services education. It has everything you require to ace Civil services on one platform, such as concise, effective, and well-planned video lectures by our Dream Team for UPSC, a well-structured and high yield QBank, highly competitive PrepTests based on real exam patterns, and Previous Year Papers in the form of tests. 

Keep following our articles and our Telegram channelto apprise yourself with the latest information about the exam. 

All the best for your exam.

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Also read: Tips to Prepare Disaster Management for UPSC Mains 

All You Need to Know About UPSC PrepMagazine & PrepNotes.

Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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