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PSIR Booklist – Political Science Optional for UPSC

This article discusses the PSIR Booklist. The books you need while preparing for Political Science Optional in UPSC-CSE. One of the fundamental question in preparation of any topics is the preparation material. And therefore booklist plays an important role.

1] PSIR 1A: Political Theory Booklist

Ch1. Introduction: Concepts and Theories in Politics
Ch2. Human Nature, the Individual and Society
Ch4. Sovereignty, the Nation and Supranationalism
Ch5. Power, Authority and Legitimacy
Ch6->3. Justice
Ch7->1. Rights
Ch8->1. Democracy
Ch9->1. Freedom
Ch10. Equality, Social Justice and Welfare


All the ideologies which are part of UPSC Syllabus can be studied from this book. 

The book doesn’t cover the topics of Gandhism and Post-modernism.  

The book covers all the thinkers in the syllabus, except Buddhism and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

The book covers all the thinkers which are part of the syllabus, including Buddhist political thought and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

The book covers all the thinkers which are part of the syllabus, including Gramsci and Hannah Arendt. 

The book covers all the western thinkers except Gramsci and Hannah Arendt

A very useful book if you’re just starting with the subject, especially those who did not have political science background. A light read for the beginners. Not recommended for advanced studies. 

A comprehensive source covering all the topics in the syllabus. A compulsory book for the UPSC aspirants with Political Science optional. 

2] PSIR 1B: Indian Government and Politics Booklist

It’s a bulky book, primarily meant for GS1- modern history. However, the introductions and conclusions of various chapters act as a good analysis of the freedom struggle and are important from PSIR perspectives. 

Chapters 2 to 7 of the syllabus i.e. Making of Indian Constitution to Federalism can be studied from the book. Whole book is important. A very crisp and to the point analysis from the expert. 

The book is a collection of essays on the Indian Constitution and its various provisions. Although these essays are arranged in a systematic fashion, the book cannot be used as a regular textbook. We recommend using this only as a reference book, you can read it when you’re already studied other resources and looking for something more.

The book is arranged in a point-wise, factual manner in contrast to an analytical study which the optional needs. However, since it is unavoidable in prelims preparation, we suggest using it for psir as well. 

This book again is a collection of essays on various topics on Indian politics.  A very good collection, almost all the essays are useful. 

The book has essays on 3 themes i.e. 1) Indian Constitution  2) Indian politics and 3) Developmental processes. A good read, especially to get more knowledge on Indian politics. 

A light read when you’re beginning with psir, and especially from a non-humanities background. 

Again, a good book to begin with if you’re coming from a non-political science background or just exploring your options. Can be completed in one reading. 

These notes cover all the topics of the Indian Government and politics. These have been designed especially with the UPSC exam in mind. A necessary book. 

3] PSIR 2A: Comparative Politics & International Relations Booklist

The topics of Globalization, Approaches to study international relations, United Nations and Contemporary Global Concerns can be studied in the book. The last two topics have not been covered comprehensively and will need additional preparation. 
Also, book gives a very good analysis of the regionalization of world politics. 

The book covers topics of Globalization, Approaches to study international relations, Key Concepts in IR, and the International Economic systems in detail. A good book to study these. 

The book is designed in a textbook fashion. A very useful book to study Global politics. 

A very good resource to have an analytical understanding of international happenings. Students can visit the website at least once a week to read latest articles. 

A very good resource which covers all the topics of Comparative Politics and International Relations. 

Extra Reading

This is not a textbook but a dictionary cum book for political science. The book covers many important concepts used in PSIR and tries to explain them. This is only a reference book, and you can also download it from the link given above. 

A must-read, in the beginning, to get an understanding of IR in a simple language. Should be completed in 1-2 days and move on with other books/notes mentioned above. 

4] PSIR 2B: India & The World Booklist

A very good resource to get an understanding of Indian Foreign Policy from the Indian perspective. It cover’s India’s relations with all major powers (except Japan) as well as the neighbourhood. It can be read in the beginning, not as a textbook. 

A slightly bulky book but covers all the topics in Paper 2B. It is comprehensive and can be used as a textbook to make notes from. 

An extra read exploring India’s relations with various countries. Not a necessary book, but can be used if you’re already done with notes and Oxford Handbook. 

This is a collection of lectures delivered by Indian diplomats. A very good resource to have understanding of the important international happenings and perspective of scholars on them. This should not be avoided at any cost. One may start with latest articles and make notes of the same. 
The only limitation is, since it is based on lectures given by these diplomats, there is no schedule to the articles published and is also not comprehensive. 

Indian journalism focused on international happening and evaluating India’s stakes. A very good initiative which offers an Indian perspective on world affairs. We can find articles by a good number of scholars on the website. Can be followed on a weekly basis. 

ORF conducts a Raiseena Dialogue at Raiseena Hill every year. Various diplomats and politicians from various countries deliver their speeches at this event. A very good resource to have a better understanding of the take of various countries on world events. 
Not a necessary source but definitely a recommended one. 

The notes cover all the topics of the syllabus. Should be used as a textbook and centre of your preparation. 

We have tried our best to give you PSIR booklist for all 4 sections. However, the main challenge begins after having the list. First problem is to choose the book and the next is, to stick with it.  We would recommend some principles which will help you make better decision. 

1. Stick with minimum authors for first 2 iterations of study. This avoids confusion.
2. If you are new to political science, none of the books will be easy for you – at least for the first reading. So stick with your choice.
3. Have minimum resources and ‘fix’ them well before exam. Extra books can be referred only to some concepts which are not covered in your ‘fixed’ booklist.
4. We strongly recommend to buy PSIR notes available on our website ( and refer books only when you find notes inadequate for particular topic/subtopic.

Always seek guidance if you’ve some confusion. This saves lot of time.  You can also join our telegram group and ask direct questions (link below). 

We have tried to provide a complete booklist for Political Science optional. Still, there may be some books which you find useful but are not part of this list. You can use them as long as you think it is part of PSIR Syllabus and will help you to answer questions in exam. This is the only criteria you have to worry about and the only criteria which will ensure your success.

Best of luck and best wishes.

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