Dear candidate, the answer to your question about the advantages and disadvantages of taking PSIR as an optional subject for the civil service exam can be found here.

Merits: Because everyone is familiar with this topic, the candidate has a foundation for it.

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pros of political science as an optional in UPSC exam

The majority of IAS students enjoy reading about politics and international relations for general studies, making this a fascinating subject.

For this subject, high-quality study materials are available on the market.It is not difficult to finish, simple to modify, simple to connect as it is generally founded on speculations with current happenings.

The candidate has an advantage as an Indian citizen because of this topic.

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Advantages: There is a lot of competition, so there is always room for improvement.
In the Indian context, reading and relating political thoughts from the West sometimes seems irrelevant.Candidates rely more on coaching notes, but this is a dynamic topic that is connected to current events.

Once in a while become exhausting too as couple of regions are not connected to the reasonableness Due to the standardizing idea of the discipline and degree for subjectivity, you won’t ever know the rig

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faqs on Political Science Optional IAS Pro’s and Con’s

What are Pro’s and Con’s of Choosing UPSC CSE Optional in UPSC CSE Exam?

PROS- Everyone knows something – Most questions can be answered with limited knowledge, specially the questions related to Indian politics. Syllabus isn’t vague- I am yet to meet a person who does not like international relations. Availability of material – Unlike regional literature, PSIR has a pool of quality study material. Revision is not difficult- The static portion can be mastered quickly. For the dynamic part i.e international relations, regular newspaper and magazine reading are sufficient. Familiarity with many topics- The political thoughts of Gandhi , Syed Ahmad Khan etc are not only interesting to read but also well known to any informed citizen. CONS No perfect answer- There is always room for improvement. Western political thought is a tough nut to crack – Most of us can comprehend Indian political thought but WPT needs thorough reading and regular revision. Coaching notes are insufficient- Shubhra Ranjan ma’am is herself an authority in the subject but you will need to supplement her notes with other sources. Political theories are boring (to say the least)- Utilitarianism, post structuralism, post colonialism, post modernism etc are as cumbersome as their names. Quoting the scholars too is an essential but difficult task. You’ll never know the right answer- because of the normative nature of the discipline and scope for subjectivity. Lastly I would suggest you to consult seniors. However give priority to your own interest over what others say. No subject is good or bad, it’s your interest that makes it so.

How much time does political science take to complete in one go as a UPSC optional?

I had taken Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) as my optional subject for CSE Mains 2015. I scored 234/500, which is a pretty good score by this year’s standards (not more than 5 or 6 PSIR toppers have scored in excess of 240). A few points in this context, before proceeding with the preparation strategy – I graduated in 2015 with a Degree in Chemical Engineering, which is miles away from anything that is given in the PSIR syllabus. I prepared the whole subject without any coaching – by reading books, consulting notes, writing answers and browsing the internet at times. PSIR is a beautiful subject which, in my opinion, makes you feel good about intellectual stuff like ‘democracy’, ‘justice’, ‘rights’, etc and gives you a 360 degree view of the kind of ‘system’ that we inhabit, not just in India but also in the whole world. Why I chose PSIR as my optional – I liked reading and loved writing. This is a win-win combination for PSIR optional, which heartily rewards good writers and thoughtful readers. Current Affairs forms a heavyweight part of PSIR syllabus. International Relations is more or less totally dominated by recent issues, while your answers in Indian Govt and Politics part can fetch you more marks if you cite examples from current events. It has a lot of overlap with GS syllabus – Indian National Movement, International Relations and Indian Polity are three such overlapping areas. Preparation Strategy – Paper 1 Part A – Political Thought, Ideologies, Indian and Western Political Thought. This is the ONLY part of the PSIR syllabus which is completely static. You can score top marks even if you don’t have an iota of idea about current affairs. However, this is also the most time consuming portion in the syllabus. Conceptual understanding of the various theories, thoughts and distinguishing them from each other will take time and energy. O.P. Gauba for Political Thought and Theories Brian Nelson for Western Political Thought V.R. Mehta + IGNOU for Indian Political Thought I read these books first in order to build a solid foundation for the topics, since I was not attending any coaching at all. Once I had completed two readings of these books, I switched to Shubra Ranjan Ma’am’s notes, which I ordered from Delhi (nowadays, Flavido is doing a good job), and made them my study material. These notes are very concise and extremely handy for revision purposes. I used to add my own notes here and there from the aforesaid books to plug the gaps in SR’s notes. Paper 1 Part B – Indian National Movement, Indian Govt and Politics. A very scoring part in PSIR, and easy to read and revise since it has major overlaps with GS syllabus. The style of writing for optional answers, however, is different from that of GS. I followed the same routine as in Part A i.e. go through basic books and then switch to SR notes. Laxmikanth for Polity basics (already done for Pre). Bipin Chandra and Spectrum for Indian National Movement(already done for Pre). B.L. Fadia(very selective) for in-depth optional-style information on Indian Govt and Politics. Paper 2 Part A – Comparative Politics A very tricky section. The topics are very much static, but in recent years UPSC has mostly come up with current affairs based questions in this part too (e.g. Sustainable Development Goals in CSE Mains 2015). It is better to read selectively from Internet, books and notes instead of keeping all eggs in one basket. IGNOU MA Modules (selectively, topic-wise from syllabus). Global Politics – Andrew Heywood for in-depth conceptual understanding. I found SR’s notes to be a bit insufficient for this part, so I made my own addition to them from wherever possible. Paper 2 Part B – International Relations This is a repository of current affairs based questions, quite literally! You need to read some basic book to get an idea of what ‘international relations’ is really all about. After that, you will have to master the art of analysis of current international events (last 1 to 1.5 years) and link it to the basic understanding. Example – How present state of India-Russia relations is not like what it was during the Treaty of 1971. In such questions, you need to have full knowledge of both current events and historical background. SR’s notes may be skipped for this portion. Challenges and Strategies – Rajiv Sikri Does the Elephant Dance – David Malone These two books are very good for basic understanding of historical backgrounds of relations between India and other countries. However, a lot of topics such as Importance of Parliament in Foreign Policy, Determinants of Foreign Policy, etc have to studied from Internet, with reference to current events. Even though this is a very interesting part of the syllabus, most books on IR become irrelevant 10 years down the line. Example – Rajiv Sikri’s book was published in 2004, and IR has undergone massive changes since then. So, always keep a tab on what’s happening ‘now’. A few more miscellaneous points on PSIR preparation – It is advisable to write in paragraphs in humanities optional papers, instead of point-format which we may use in GS. You are expected to have ‘specialized’ to some extent in the optional, and your maturity of understanding is better reflected in paragraph format. If you don’t practice answer writing well enough, you are surely going to miss out on questions worth atleast 20, 30 marks in the paper. The time crunch is tougher to handle in optional than in GS. Don’t waste your time by reading a particular book cover-to-cover. Go topic-wise according to the syllabus, or you will never be able to finish revisions in time. [IMPORTANT] Refer to last 34 years PSIR question papers given in Mrunal’s website. Categorize them according to topics given in the syllabus. Example – Indian Political Thought, Western Political Thought, Indo-Russia relations, Foreign Policy, Political Ideologies, etc. You will find that in most topics, UPSC repeats a number of questions year after year, simply by rephrasing the statements. This is especially true for Paper 1 (example – questions on Marxism). Identify such areas and stress on them. From my vault – categorization of previous years question papers according to topics in syllabus. (Figures in brackets indicate year of examination)


What are the pros and cons for selecting political science or social science for the UPSC optional paper? – Expert

Every Optional IAS Subject ha sits pro’s and con’s let see Pro’s and con’s pf  PSIR optional in UPSC CSE Exam

Pros of  selecting political science or social science for the UPSC optional paper

1. Helpful for GS papers and interview. Political Science covers more than 60% of the GS paper.

2. More relevant for an administrative job.

3. Easy availability of study materials, practice questions and guidance.

Cons selecting political science or social science for the UPSC optional paper

1. UPSC has become quite strict in awarding marks in papers like Pub Ad, PolSc, Geog, Socio etc compared to other subjects.

2. More competition as most people take these optionals.



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  1. Plutus IAS Delhi Reply

    There is a lot of overlap with general studies.  Many topics in polity, economy, modern India, world affairs, social issues, international political economy, international organisations, international relations, foreign policy, etc. finds repetition in general studies.Pro’s of PSIR Optional IAS Subject in UPSC CSE ExamThe syllabus is smaller and can be finished on time (because of overlap).The questions are more balanced and not very unpredictable.It is helpful in current affairs preparation.This subject will help in the interview also.Check – Best ias coaching in delhi

  2. Debotosh Chatterjee Reply

    Pro’s and Cons of PSIR Optional CoachingPros of PSIR Optional CoachingMassive overlap with General Studies syllabus – Indian Polity, Indian National Movement and International Relations for a major chunk in both PSIR and GS syllabus for Mains.Very helpful in Essay – The amount of knowledge you get from the various topics of PSIR (Political Ideologies, Globalization, International Relations, Indian Society, etc) gives you a genuine edge over other candidates in Essay paper. However, one must be careful enough to avoid using too much Optional-related information and theory in Essay, since it is supposed to be a Generalist paper.

    Cons of PSIR Optional CoachingPolitical Thought and Ideologies is quite a complicated section to handle. You need to be very good with your comprehension skills to read complex theories, understand and analyze them well and, then produce engrossing answers for the examiner to award marks.While creative writing is an advantage for someone opting for PSIR, the lack of it can be an equally paralyzing factor. If your writing skills are not sharp enough, chances are high that you might be losing marks all throughout the paper. Mind you, creative writing does NOT mean flowery, jargon-filled stuff. It has to be simple, yet elegant.The syllabus takes time to get fully absorbed in your mind. You have to revise the static portions of the syllabus such as Political Thought and Theories atleast 3 to 4 times before being able to answer UPSC-standard questions confidently.

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