UPSC Political Science Syllabus for Detailed UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Political Science Syllabus and Books for IAS

UPSC Political Science Syllabus for Detailed UPSC IAS Mains Exam

The Union Public Service Commission allows a choice of optional subjects out of a list of subjects. Out of these, Political Science is one of the very commonly opted optional subjects in the UPSC Mains exam.

Political Science Syllabus and Books for IAS

UPSC Political Science Syllabus for Detailed UPSC IAS Mains Exam

The Union Public Service Commission allows a choice of optional subjects out of a list of subjects. Out of these, Political Science is one of the very commonly opted optional subjects in the UPSC Mains exam. The Political Science Optional is one such subject for which a huge amount of study material is available, as the subject relates with theories and philosophies of different schools like Liberal, Colonial and Post-Colonial, Marxist, Neoliberal, Feminist and so on in the first paper, as well as Indian polity and governance. Here in this article, we have discussed a comprehensive UPSC Political Science Syllabus, which candidates have to cover while appearing for UPSC IAS Mains Exam. 

UPSC Political Science Syllabus – Topics to be Covered for IAS Main Exam

Political Science and International Relations, is the optional subject which most of the candidates opt for because the availability of the study material for the subject is very high. The syllabus majorly consists of topics related to the Constitution of India, social justice, international organisations, the international economic system and trade, India’s foreign policy and peacekeeping among others. 

Political Science Optional Syllabus for IAS

Preparation for any subject in IAS begins with going through the syllabus thoroughly and understanding how much to cover for the examination. Here is the UPSC Political Science syllabus for the candidates to refer to. The syllabus is divided into many sections and subsections, all of which are more or less important. A further idea about the weightage of each section can be gathered from previous year’s question papers.

UPSC Political Science Syllabus

Topics Covered 

PART I – Political Theory and Indian Politics 

Political theory 

Meaning, Definition, and approaches

Theories of the state

Pluralist, Liberal, Neoliberal, Marxist, Post-colonial and feminist.


Concept of justice with reference to Rawl’s theory of justice


Relationship between freedom and equality and; Political, Social, and economic; Affirmative action.


Meaning and theories; the concept of Human Rights


different models of democracy - deliberative, participatory and representative, Contemporary and Classical theories

Political Ideologies 

Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, Gandhism, Feminism, and Socialism.

Indian Political Thought 

Dharamshastra, Arthashastra, and Buddhist traditions; Sri Aurobindo, B.R. Ambedkar, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, M.K. Gandhi, M.N. Roy.

Western Political Thought 

Plato, John S. Mill, Machiavelli, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Gramsci Marx, and Hannah Arendt.

Part I - Indian Government and politics

Indian Nationalism 

Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Civil Disobedience, Non-cooperation; constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Peasant and workers’ movements, revolutionary movements.

Making of the Indian Constitution

Different political and social perspectives, Legacies of the British rule

Salient Features of the Indian Constitution

Fundamental Rights and Duties, Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine, The Preamble, Directive Principles, Parliamentary System, and Amendment Procedures.

Principal Organs of the Union Government

Executive, Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, and Supreme Court.

Principal Organs of the State Government

Executive, Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, and High Courts.

Statutory Institutions/ Commissions 

Election Commission, Comptroller, and Auditor General, Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, National Backward Classes Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women; National Commission for Minorities.


Changing nature of centre-state relations; Constitutional provisions; and regional aspirations; integrationist tendencies, inter-state disputes.

Planning and Economic Development 

The role of planning and public sector; land reforms and agrarian relations; liberalization, Green Revolution, and economic reforms.

Party System 

National and regional political parties, Ideological and social bases of parties; trends in electoral behaviour; patterns of coalition politics; Pressure groups, changing the socio-economic profile of Legislators.

Social Movements 

Civil liberties, women's movements; environmentalist movements

Part II - Comparative Politics and International Relations

Comparative Politics 

Political economy, Nature and major approaches; limitations of the comparative method.


Responses from developing and developed societies.

Approaches to the Study of International Relations

Idealist, Functionalist, Realist, Marxist, and Systems theory.

Key concepts in International Relations 

Security, World capitalist economy and globalisation; Balance of power and deterrence; National interest, and power; Transnational actors, and collective security.

Changing International Political Order 

arms race and Cold War; Rise of superpowers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, nuclear threat;


Non-aligned movement: Achievements and Aims;


Collapse of the Soviet Union; and Unipolarity and American hegemony; Relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.

Evolution of the International Economic System

From Brettonwoods to WTO; Globalisation of the world economy; Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance); Third World demand for new international economic order.

United Nations 

Envisaged role and actual record; Specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning; the need for UN reforms.

Regionalization of World Politics 


Contemporary Global Concerns 

Human rights, Gender justice, nuclear proliferation, Democracy, environment, terrorism.

Part II - India and the World

Indian Foreign Policy 

Continuity and change: Institutions of policy-making, Determinants of foreign policy

India and South Asia 

South Asia as a Free Trade Area


Regional Co-operation: SAARC –past performance and future prospects


Impediments to regional co-operation: ethnic conflicts and insurgencies; river water disputes; illegal cross-border migration; border disputes.


India's "Look East" policy

India and the Global South 

Relations with Latin America and Africa, Leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations

India and the Global Centres of Power 

USA, China, EU, Japan, and Russia.

India and the UN System 

Role in United Nation Peace-keeping

India and the Nuclear Questions 

Perceptions and Changing policy

Recent developments in Indian Foreign Policy 

India's position on the recent crisis in West Asia, Growing relations with US and Israel; Afghanistan and Iraq, the vision of new world order


Recommended Books:

  • NCERT Books of Class 11th and Class 12th
  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • School Atlas by Orient Blackswan
  • India a Comprehensive Geography by Khuller
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong


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