For a UPSC CSE aspirant, the optional subject is also an important subject. In the UPSC mains exam, optional marks have two papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2. Each paper is of 250 marks which makes a total of 500 marks. The UPSC optional subject list contains 48 subjects in total, one of which is Political Science.





A. Political Theory and Thinkers

  1. Political theory 
  • Definition, meaning, and approaches
  1. Theories of the state
  • Liberal
  • Neoliberal
  • Marxist
  • Pluralist
  • Feminist
  • Post-colonial 
  1. Justice 
  • Concept of justice with reference to Rawl’s theory of justice along with its communitarian critiques
  1. Equality 
  • Affirmative action
  • Relationship between freedom and equality
  • Political, Social, and economic
  1. Rights 
  • Meaning and theories
  • the concept of Human Rights
  1. Democracy 
  • Different models of democracy – deliberative, Contemporary participatory and representative, and Classical theories
  1. Concept of power
  • legitimacy
  • hegemony
  • Ideology
  1. Political Ideologies 
  • Liberalism
  • Marxism
  • Fascism
  • Gandhism
  • Feminism 
  • Socialism
  1. Indian Political Thought 
  • Dharmashastra, Arthashastra, and Buddhist traditions
  • B.R. Ambedkar
  • Sri Aurobindo
  • M.N. Roy
  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan
  • M.K. Gandhi
  1. Western Political Thought 
  • Plato
  • Machiavelli 
  • John S. Mill
  • Aristotle
  • Hobbes
  • Locke
  • Gramsci Marx
  • Hannah Arendt

B. Indian Government and Politics

  1. Indian Nationalism 
  • Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle: Non-cooperation, Constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha, Civil Disobedience
  • Peasant and workers’ movements, 
  • The revolutionary and militant movement
  • Perspective on INM: Socialist, Liberal, and Marxist
  • Radical Humanist, and Dalit
  1. 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
  • Parliamentary System
  • Directive Principles
  • Amendment Procedures
  1. Principal Organs of the Union Government
  • Executive, Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, and Supreme Court
  1. Principal Organs of the State Government
  • Executive, Envisaged role and actual working of the Legislature, and High Courts.

5. Statutory Institutions/ Commissions 

  • Election Commission
  • Comptroller, and Auditor General
  • Union Public Service Commission
  • Finance Commission
  • National Backward Classes Commission
  • National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  • National Commission for Women
  • National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  • National Commission for Minorities
  1. Federalism 
  • Constitutional provisions; and regional aspirations
  • Changing nature of center-state relations
  • integrationist tendencies
  • inter-state disputes
  1. Planning and Economic Development 
  • The role of planning and public sector
  • land reforms and agrarian relations
  • Green Revolution
  • Liberalization
  • Economic reforms
  1. Party System 
  • National and regional political parties
  • Ideological and social bases of parties 
  • Patterns of coalition politics
  • Trends in electoral behavior
  • Pressure groups, changing the socio-economic profile of Legislators
  1. Social Movements 
  • Women’s movements
  • Civil liberties
  • environmentalist movements


A. Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics

  1. Comparative Politics 
  • Nature and major approaches
  • Political economy
  • limitations of the comparative method
  1. Globalisation 
  • Responses from developing and developed societies
  • Idealist, Functionalist, Realist, Marxist, and Systems theory
  • Approaches to the Study of International Relations
  1. Key concepts in International Relations 
  • Security, World capitalist economy and globalization
  • National interest, and power
  • Balance of power and deterrence
  • Transnational actors, and collective security
  1. Changing International Political Order 
  • The arms race and Cold War
  • Rise of superpowers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity
  • Non-aligned movement: Aims, and Achievements
  • nuclear threat
  • Collapse of the Soviet Union
  • Relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world
  • Unipolarity and American hegemony
  1. Evolution of the International Economic System
  • From Bretton woods to WTO
  • Socialist economies and the CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance)
  • Globalization of the world economy
  • Third World demand for new international economic order
  1. United Nations 
  • Envisaged role and actual record
  • The need for UN reforms
  • Specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning
  1. Regionalization of World Politics 
  • EU
  • APEC
  • SAARC 
  1. Contemporary Global Concerns 
  • Gender justice 
  • Human rights
  • nuclear proliferation
  • Democracy
  • Terrorism
  • Environment

B. India and the World

  1. Indian Foreign Policy 
  • Continuity and change: Determinants of foreign policy, Institutions of policy-making 
  1. India and South Asia 
  • Regional Co-operation: SAARC –past performance and future prospects
  • South Asia as a Free Trade Area
  • Impediments to regional co-operation: ethnic conflicts and insurgencies
  • river water disputes
  • border disputes
  • illegal cross-border migration
  • India’s “Look East” policy
  1. India and the Global South 
  • Leadership role in the demand for NIEO and WTO negotiations
  • Relations with Latin America and Africa
  1. India and the Global Centres of Power 
  • USA, EU, China, Japan, and Russia
  1. India and the UN System 
  • Role in United Nation Peace-keeping
  1. India and the Nuclear Questions 
  • Perceptions and Changing policy
  1. Recent developments in Indian Foreign Policy 
  • Growing relations with the US and Israel
  • India’s position on the recent crisis in West Asia, 
  • Afghanistan and Iraq, the vision of new world order

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