UPSC Exam Preparation: Political Science Optional Tips from Anand Vardhan


Political science and international relations is a popular choice of optional subject among UPSC aspirants. It is an interesting subject and one that can be studied even without any academic background in it. Anand Vardhan, who secured an impressive AIR 7 in the 2016 UPSC civil services exam, had opted for political science as his optional subject. This article discusses his strategy in dealing with the subject and also gives valuable tips.

This was Vardhan’s fourth attempt at the UPSC exam and his first one with political science as the optional. His previous three attempts were taken with public administration as the optional subject. This time around, he scored 138 and 164 marks in the two political science optional papers.

Must See | UPSC Syllabus for Political Science & International Relations Optional

Anand Vardhan’s tips for Political Science & IR paper I

  • Paper I is predominantly static in nature. Understanding the theory is very important.
  • This paper mostly has straightforward questions.
  • Try to have a contemporary view in your answers.
  • For Indian Administration, it is recommended that you quote relevant thinkers. You should also include recent developments in your answers.
  • Accuracy is essential in this section.

Anand Vardhan’s tips for Political Science & IR paper II

  • Apart from the standard books, read newspapers thoroughly for the international relations segment.
  • Apart from quoting expert views, you must also write your own views on a topic. Vardhan suggests aspirants to take a stand in this paper.
  • He had referred to Project Syndicate Website and had fixed framework for answers on economics, defence and security, etc.
  • You can add value to your answers by connecting recent developments with theoretical frameworks. For example, Indo-Pak relations can be said to be a victim of Social Constructivism.

Booklist for Political Science optional

  • Introduction to Political Theory – O P Gauba
  • Global Politics – Andrew Heywood
  • Political Theory – Rajeev Bhargava
  • A History Of Political Thought: Plato To Marx – Mukherjee and Susheela Ramaswamy
  • Foundations of Indian Political Thought – V R Mehta
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India – D D Basu
  • Comparative Politics – J.C Johari
  • Indian Foreign Policy – Rajeev Sikri
  • Does the Elephant Dance – David Malone
  • Newspapers
  • Yojana Magazine
  • IGNOU Material

Also Read | UPSC Mains GS Paper 2: Important topics in International Relations

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