UPSC Political Science Syllabus- Download Political Science And International Relations Optional Syllabus

The UPSC allows a choice of optional subjects out of a list of 48 subjects. Of these, a few optional subjects have a large overlap with the syllabus for General Studies. IAS Exam has three stages- Preliminary, Mains, and Interview. UPSC Mains Examination has nine papers including two papers of optional subject. UPSC Political Science and International Relations is a subject given in the list of Optional Subjects.

UPSC Political Science Syllabus PDF
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In this article, we will provide a detailed UPSC CSE Syllabus for Political Science.

Political Science Optional Syllabus For UPSC

PSIR, as it is commonly known, is one subject for which a huge amount of study material is available. The syllabus consists of topics related to the freedom struggle and Indian politics, the Constitution of India, the international economic system and trade, international organisations, India’s foreign policy and peacekeeping among others. These topics are also part of the General Studies syllabus.

IAS 2023 results

For details on similar optional subjects syllabus, check the linked article.

Please refer to UPSC Mains article to understand the civil services examination.

Syllabus of Political Science for UPSC

Political Science Optional consists of 2 papers (Paper I and Paper II) in UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination. Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks.

Find below the civil service exam Political Science syllabus:

Political Science Mains Syllabus (Paper I):
UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper I-1

UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper I-2

UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper I-3

Candidates targeting UPSC 2023, may check the linked article.

Political Science Mains Syllabus (Paper II):

UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper II-1

UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper II-2

UPSC Political Science Optional Syllabus Paper II-3

The PSIR syllabus is very useful even after clearing the IAS exam as a large number of concepts can be used while working in the government. Apart from this, many candidates would find political science very interesting as it helps them clear the UPSC IAS Exam.

The optional paper is suitable for candidates from varied backgrounds ranging from international trade specialists, management consultants, teachers and so on. IAS aspirants should integrate their preparation for PSIR with General Studies to be able to grasp all the concepts and secure a high rank in the UPSC exam.

Political Science has been one of the most common choice of many UPSC toppers in the past.

Frequently Asked Questions about UPSC Political Science Syllabus


What are the topics in political science for UPSC?

The syllabus consists of topics related to the freedom struggle and Indian politics, the Constitution of India, the international economic system and trade, international organisations, India’s foreign policy and peacekeeping among others.

What is the success rate of political science in UPSC?

As per the data given by the UPSC annual reports, 1246 candidates had opted for political science as their optional in the 2017 civil services mains exam. Out of this number, 117 candidates were recommended revealing a success rate of 9.4% for that year.

Is political science optional tough?

There is perception among aspirants that PSIR is one of the toughest optional papers. There is no easy or tough optional subject. It all about your interests in the subject and sometimes your background like your graduation.

What are some important books to cover UPSC Political Science Syllabus?

Some important Political Science books for IAS exam are:

  • An introduction to Political Theory-  O.P. Gauba
  • An introduction to Constitution- D.D. Basu
  • Indian Polity – Laxmikanth
  • A History of Political Thought: Plato to Marx – Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy
  • Does the Elephant Dance? – David Malone
  • India’s Foreign Policy – V.P. Dutt
  • Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy- Rajiv Sikri

What is the benefit of taking political science optional in UPSC?

Political Science equips students with an understanding of the political institutions and laws that govern all businesses function. It also sharpens students’ understanding of organizational dynamics and human relations, and hones their writing, communication, and statistical skills.

Is political science a scoring optional for UPSC?

Political Science and International Relations OR PSIR is a popular optional subject and one that many toppers have chosen in UPSC Mains Exam but cautious analysis is required before taking it up as an optional because what is beneficial for one might be detrimental to another.

How to prepare for Political Science in UPSC exam?

The Political science optional subject is a General study friendly subject. The Paper I of political science deal with the Political Theory and Indian Politics. Paper-II deals with Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics. Hence, only a good conceptual clarity can help you write precise and lucid answers for this paper, helping you score better.

To get the list of optional subjects along with their syllabus, check the UPSC Notification given in the linked article.

To read more about UPSC Political Science and IAS Exam, please visit the articles given in the table below:

Advantages of Political Science Optional Strategy for Political Science and International Relations Optional
Political Science Vs. Sociology for UPSC Public Administration Versus Political Science
Important Books for Political Science Polity Questions for UPSC Mains
IAS Sociology Syllabus IAS Public Administration Syllabus
Constitution Questions for UPSC Mains Governance Questions for UPSC Mains


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  1. The Question may sound foolish but, I have a small question

    In optional papers, Is Political Science and PSIR different subjects?

  2. so i have started my preparation from june-2020 and going to give my first attempt in 2021 so should i cover current affairs from june-2020 to june-2021 or need to go with jan 2020 current affairs-june2021

  3. I want to know whole syllabus from beginning,can u help me

  4. Sir, can you suggest some books for psir optional

  5. sir, please suggest some books for GS 1 and optional subject for PSIR.

  6. Hello mentor ,
    i want to start preparing for my 2021 exam for UPSC , is 10 months are enough for preparation and is it possible without any coaching?

    • Hi Anamika
      As the UPSC Calendar 2021 is out stating Prelims to be on 27th June 2021, you have a sufficient amount of time to start off your preparation. Start with newspaper reading, NCERTs, and previous year question papers. Always stick to the UPSC syllabus to keep yourself on track.

  7. I am a zoology graduate student, still particularly attracted towards the PSIR optional,so what should be my criteria for the choice of optional?
    Does PSIR is tooo much competition?

    • Check the syllabus for each of the subjects. If you are comfortable with starting with a new subject like PSIR, then you may go ahead with it. Two factors help scoring good in the optional subject – Interest and Information. If you can complement you interest for an optional with the right information, you can choose whichever you want.
      1. Zoology Optional Syllabus
      2. PSIR Optional Syllabus

  8. sir, can you tell me how should i prepare for upsc as i will give in 2022

  9. hi mam/sir
    now I am studying 12th so what things i have to read now.

    • Hi
      You can revise NCERTs from Class 6-12 (selective reading of History, Geography, Political Science & Economics.) Make a habit of reading a newspaper. Additionally, keep a copy of UPSC syllabus with you.

  10. How to make notes from ncert books?😫

  11. Hi Sir,

    I want to start my preparation for UPSC 2021 prelims from now onwards. Is it possible to finish the entire syllabus within the time allotted!
    Also due to covid, we are not receiving the newspaper, so what can I substitute it with?

  12. hi sir,
    what is the connection between less competitive optional and the count of aspirant opted that particular optional is less?
    how do they both related together ? can u pls explain me the logic?

  13. I am trying to an IAS officer without coaching. What to do?

    • 1.‌ ‌Understand‌ ‌UPSC‌ ‌Syllabus‌ ‌
      2.‌ ‌Start‌ ‌with‌ ‌NCERTs‌ ‌and‌ ‌complement‌ ‌with‌ ‌daily‌ ‌newspaper.‌ ‌
      3.‌ ‌Refer‌ ‌to‌ ‌UPSC‌ ‌previous‌ ‌years’‌ ‌question‌ ‌papers.‌ ‌
      4.‌ ‌Read‌ ‌Rajiv‌ ‌Ahir’s‌ ‌Brief‌ ‌of‌ ‌Modern‌ ‌History,‌ ‌M.‌ ‌Laxmikanth’s‌ ‌Indian‌ ‌Polity‌ ‌for‌ ‌GS‌ ‌1‌ ‌and‌ ‌2‌ ‌
      respectively.‌ ‌ ‌
      5.‌ ‌Revise‌ ‌often.‌ ‌
      6.‌ ‌Take‌ ‌mock‌ ‌tests‌ ‌periodically.‌

  14. Sir/madam
    I want to take PSIR as my optional subject can you please tell me is it should be helpful for gs 2 or not?

  15. Good afternoon sir/mam
    I want to prepare for upsc examination from now itself, so can u please suggest me the basic information about main subjects and optional subjects.

  16. If possible mam/sir can u please suggest me how to prepare for examination

  17. I have completed my Computer Science Engineering, I am aiming for the foreign services and think the IR part of this optional will be very helpful. The political science aspect is new for me, will I be able to successfully complete this and compete with others who have studied the subject for years?

    • Hi,
      There have been many toppers who have selected optional subject different from their graduation subject. Polity & IR is no doubt a competitive subject but if you have an interest in this subject, you must go for it. This subject has an ample amount of study material, coaching and relevance in other GS subjects. Select the optional with confidence and persevere till you make it. For any further guidance, you can reach us at tel:+919243500460.

  18. sir, can you tell me how should i prepare for upsc 2023

    • Dear aspirant,
      It is a good time now to start preparing for 2023. The first thing you need to understand is if you need formal coaching for the preparation. There are multiple benefits attached to online/offline coaching, however, you should choose as per your needs.
      Then, download the syllabus for UPSC exam, NCERT textbooks from classes 6 to 12 and previous year question papers. These are going to give you a head start with your preparation. A year is a sufficient time to prepare, hence any time more than this will be an added advantage.

      Please learn about coaching here, or for more IAS preparation related queries, download BYJU’S – The Learning App.

  19. I’m really stuck between sociology and psir, can you please help me to come out of this dilemma sir. I have also seen the comparative analysis but unable to select the optional.

    • Dear Aspirant,
      If we talk about the success rate of both the optionals, the official 69th annual report of UPSC mentions that out of 1421 candidates who appeared for Mains with Sociology subject in 2017, 137 cleared. The figures are 1246 and 117 for political science, respectively. Hence, the success rate for both optionals is more or less the same. The second factor is the availability of the study material. Study materials for both these subjects are widely available. So here comes the third factor, which is an aspirant’s interest in the subject. We would recommend you study both these subjects for a month to make the right choice. At any given point in time, you feel detached from one subject, you surely can pick the other one as your optional subject.
      The other way to find that out after a month of study is to go with the previous year question papers and analyse your comfort and expertise in answering each subject’s questions.
      The decision will finally be yours, and we wish you all the best!

      To get question papers, you can visit here.