The following is the syllabus for Political Science and International Relations in Main Examination.

Analyzing the syllabus and previous year question papers is integral part and parcel of comprehensive preparation strategy for this exam.

The syllabus given by UPSC is not structured properly. We have attempted to re structure it so that a student can easily understand what is hidden in the syllabus.

Before going ahead to see the sources of the subject in the next section we advice you to not only read the syllabus but also take a print out of the same and read it as many times as possible.

Before reading any topic you should see where the particular topic is falling in the syllabus. Once you read the topic comprehensively you should tick mark the same in the syllabus. By doing this you will gain a lot of confidence.

The other details of how to approach the subject will be dealt with in detail in the next sections.


Section A

This section has 4 different subsections namely

i) Political theory- From Point 1 to 7

ii) Political ideologies- Point 8

iii) Indian political thought- Point 9

iv) Western political thought- Point 10

1. Political Theory: Meaning and approaches.
2. Theories of the State
  • Liberal,
  • Neoliberal,
  • Marxist,
  • Pluralist,
  • Post-colonial and
  • Feminist.
3. Justice: Conceptions of justice with special reference to Rawl’s theory of justice and its communitarian critiques.

4. Equality:

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

5. Rights:

  • Meaning and theories;
  • Different kinds of rights;
  • Concept of Human Rights.

6. Democracy:

  • Classical and contemporary theories;
  • Different models of democracy – representative, participatory and deliberative.

7. Concept of 

  • Power,
  • Hegemony,
  • Ideology and
  • Legitimacy.

8. Political Ideologies:

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

9. Indian Political Thought:

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

10. Western Political Thought:

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



This section cab be broadly divided into 3 subsections namely

  1. Nationalism and Constitution-Point 1 and 2
  2. Core Polity topics- Point 3 to 7
  3. Various diverse topics- Point 8 to 11

1. Nationalism:

(a) Political Strategies of India’s Freedom Struggle:

  • Constitutionalism to mass Satyagraha,
  • Non-cooperation,
  • Civil Disobedience;
  • Militant and revolutionary movements,
  • Peasant and workers’ movements.

(b) Perspectives on Indian National Movement:

  • Liberal
  • Socialist and Marxist;
  • Radical humanist and
  • Dalit.

2. Making of the Indian Constitution:

  • Legacies of the British rule;
  • Different social and political perspectives.

3. Salient Features of the Indian Constitution:

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


(a) Principal Organs of the Union Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and Supreme Court.

(b) Principal Organs of the State Government: Envisaged role and actual working of the Executive, Legislature and High Courts.

5. Grassroots Democracy:

  • Panchayati Raj and Municipal Government;
  • Significance of 73rd and 74th Amendments;
  • Grass root movements.

6. Statutory Institutions/Commissions:

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

7. Federalism:

  • Constitutional provisions;
  • Changing nature of centre-state relations;
  • Integrationist tendencies and regional aspirations;
  • Inter-state disputes.

8. Planning and Economic Development:

  • Nehruvian and Gandhian perspectives;
  • Role of planning and public sector;
  • Green Revolution,
  • Land reforms and agrarian relations;
  • Liberalisation and economic reforms.

9. Caste, Religion and Ethnicity in Indian Politics.

10. Party System:

  • National and regional political parties, ideological and social bases of parties;
  • Patterns of coalition politics;
  • Pressure groups,
  • Trends in electoral behaviour;
  • Changing socio- economic profile of Legislators.

11. Social Movements:

  • Civil liberties and human rights movements;
  • Women’s movements;
  • Environmentalist movements.


Section A

This section can be divided into 3 sub sections namely-

  1. Comparative politics-Point 1 to 3
  2. Theories and concepts in international relations-Point 4 to 7
  3. Global institutions and groups- Point 7 to 11

1. Comparative Politics:

  • Nature and major approaches;
  • Political economy and political sociology perspectives ;
  • Limitations of the comparative method.

2. State in comparative perspective: Characteristics and changing nature of the State in capitalist and socialist economies, and, advanced industrial and developing societies.

3. Politics of Representation and Participation:

  • Political parties,
  • Pressure groups and
  • Social movements in advanced industrial and developing societies.

4. Globalisation: Responses from developed and developing societies.

5. Approaches to the Study of International Relations:

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

6. Key concepts in International Relations:

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

7. Changing International Political Order:

(a) Rise of super powers; strategic and ideological Bipolarity, arms race and Cold War; nuclear threat;

(b) Non-aligned movement: Aims and achievements;

(c) Collapse of the Soviet Union; Unipolarity and American hegemony; relevance of non-alignment in the contemporary world.

8. Evolution of the International Economic System:

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

9. United Nations:

  • Envisaged role and actual record;
  • Specialized UN agencies-aims and functioning;
  • Need for UN reforms.

10. Regionalisation of World Politics:

  • EU,
  • ASEAN,
  • APEC,
  • SAARC,
  • NAFTA.

11. Contemporary Global Concerns:

  • Democracy,
  • Human rights,
  • Environment,
  • Gender justice,
  • Terrorism,
  • Nuclear proliferation.


1. Indian Foreign Policy:

  • Determinants of foreign policy;
  • Institutions of policy-making;
  • Continuity and change.

2. India’s Contribution to the Non-Alignment Movement:

  • Different phases;
  • Current role.

3. India and South Asia:

(a) Regional Co-operation: SAARC – past performance and future prospects.

(b) South Asia as a Free Trade Area.

(c) India’s “Look East” policy.

(d) Impediments to regional co-operation: -river water disputes;

Stay in touch by email for updates and offers


Connect With us

Get In Touch

  • Shubhra Ranjan IAS Study
    32B, Upper Ground,
    Opp. Metro Pillar No. 122,
    Pusa Road, Karol Bagh,
    New Delhi - 110005
  • Phone: +91 11 45612719
    +91 991081 2719
  • Email: