Sociology and Geography: Which Is The Best Optional Subject For UPSC

Both Sociology and Geography are popular optionals in the Civil Services Exam. Geography surpasses Sociology if you look at the absolute numbers of candidates opting for the subjects. In fact, both subjects are considered scoring. A lot of people from different academic backgrounds select either of these from the list of UPSC optional subjects. This article tries to analyse the pros and cons of Sociology vs Geography. This would enable IAS aspirants to make an informed decision on their choice of optional subjects.

Pros and Cons of Geography

The following points list out the pros and cons of choosing Geography as an optional subject.

Geography Optional: Advantages

  • It is a scientific subject, one that students from all backgrounds can try their hand at.
  • It is a scoring subject. There is no room for interpretation here as Geography is logical. You can also score marks through diagrams and maps.
  • There is plenty of study material available for this subject.
  • There is a good deal of overlap in general studies paper I and also in some parts of General Studies Paper III.

Geography Optional: Disadvantages

  • You have to be absolutely correct in maps else you can lose marks entirely.
  • There is a lot of competition on this subject as a lot of people opt for this. The candidate will have to present information in an original and interesting way.
  • The UPSC Syllabus for Geography is bigger than Sociology.

Pros and Cons of Sociology

The following are some pros and cons of choosing Sociology as an optional subject.

Sociology Optional: Advantages

  • Sociology has a shorter syllabus.
  • It is easy to understand and is scoring too.
  • It is a social science and is popular with humanities students. Since it is easy to understand, even science background students can attempt it safely.
  • It helps with the essay paper since generally at least one essay is asked on social issues. It will also help in the interview round. Sociology also helps in the ethics paper.
  • It is interesting especially if social issues matter to you. It helps you understand society and its myriad layers and functioning.
  • There is overlap with General Studies Paper I.

Sociology Optional: Disadvantages

  • It does not have the same scoring potential as Geography
  • Answers are open to interpretation and candidates need to think before writing as to which opinion should be presented and which should be withheld.
  • It requires the candidate to be well versed with Current Affairs more than what is needed for General Studies.

As you can see, both subjects have their own advantages and disadvantages. You must look at your own interests and prior knowledge levels before fixing on an optional subject. Aspirants can also check out IAS Toppers’ optional subjects to get a fair idea of the scoring potential of the popular optional subjects. This would allow them to make a well researched and informed decision regarding the optional subject they choose.

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