While preparing for UPSC Civil Services Exam optional subjects play a significant role. For UPSC mains exam an aspirant has to choose one optional subject out of the list of 48 subjects. The marks allotted for optional subjects in UPSC exam is 500 marks out of the total. A wrong choice of optional can lead you to score low marks and hence your chances of selection may be compromised. 

  • Since the last few years, the Sociology optional has emerged as the most safe and popular optional chosen by multiple aspirants in the UPSC mains exam. 
  • The success ratio has been exemplary for this optional. As far as the marks are concerned one can fetch 315 to 350 marks in this optional. 
  • Another benefit associated with this optional is that it has a huge overlap with the General Studies syllabus in mains exam so it will save your precious time for general studies paper. 
  • The subject owing to its roots in society can help you in personality test too where a lot of questions arise on societal problems and issues.



The UPSC syllabus for sociology optional is short and concise so it can be covered within 3-4 months time. Besides this no background is needed for this optional so even a fresher is comfortable for the preparation of this optional. There are two optional papers in the UPSC mains exam. Both the papers are for a total of 250 marks making the total optional marks to 500.

Books and Resources

  • Sociology Themes and Perspectives – Michael Haralambos, Martin Holborn
  • Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends – Ram Ahuja
  • Social Problems In India – Ram Ahuja
  • Sociology – Anthony Giddens
  • Sociological Theory – George Ritzer
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Sociology
  • Modernization Of Indian Tradition – Yogendra Singh
  • Sociological Thought – Francis Abraham, John Henry Morgan
  • Social Change In Modern India – M. N. SRINIVAS
  • Caste Its Twentieth Century Avatar – M. N. SRINIVAS
  • Persistence and Change in Tribal India – M.V. Rao
  • Social Background of Indian Nationalism – A. R. Desai
  • For current aspects of Sociology, EPW magazine can be referred to, which is a good compilation of society related articles.


Scoring Potential

From the previous trends it can be inferred that Sociology as an optional for UPSC mains has a high scoring potential and this is one of the main reasons behind its popularity. The sociology optional is having a high success ratio too and many of the toppers with this optional is a testimony of this.

Short Syllabus

Comparatively short and concise syllabus the entire coverage can be done within a short span 3-4 months.


Abundance of Study Material

There is no abundance of study material or resources related to this optional. Both online and offline material is in excess and can be utilized from multiple platforms.

No Background Required

Academic background has no boundation for this optional so all candidates irrespective of their background can choose this optional with little or no knowledge of sociology. This subject is often in the limelight in newspapers due to concepts like family, religion, etc.

Overlapping With General Studies and Other Papers 

GS and other papers like essays find a huge overlap with sociology optional. For example General Studies Paper 1, about 40 – 50 marks can be extracted from sociology-related topics.

Similarly, for General Studies Paper 2 can be found coherent with issues like welfare initiatives, depressed and vulnerable section related issues, NGOs and other welfare institutions, issues related to poverty and hunger etc.


General Studies Paper 3 is linked with issues like Land reforms in India, Comprehensive development and issues emerging from it, Naxalism and Maoism and its effect on the society, Globalization, Industrialization and privatization and its impact on society etc.

General Studies paper 4 has many common areas with Sociology optional such as Human Values- role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values; reformers and administrators, lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders.


In the similar manner there are many overlapping areas in sociology syllabus with the syllabus of essay.

Strategy To Prepare Sociology Optional


Paper I of sociology optional is quite static in nature and it provides a holistic understanding of the sociological theories and fundamental concepts. It is advisable that paper I should be covered first as it will strengthen the foundation. Once done with paper I, jump to paper II that deals with the practical application of sociology in the Indian context. While preparing Paper II try to link the subject matter of Paper II with the concepts learned in the Paper I. Try to develop an analytical approach while answering the questions with proper interlinking with contemporary situations.

Proper scanning of UPSC syllabus is needed before start writing as this will help you to avert any kind of distractions and deviations.

It is advisable to follow standard books as only these books can help you to develop an in-depth understanding about the concepts. To get a good grip on the subject try to Focus on sociological thinkers and proper understanding of sociological theories.

Micro and concise notes on each and every topic could be a value addition in this regard as they will aid you in revision.



Paper 2 is dynamic in nature and mostly deals with Indian aspects. Besides this standard source is also in scarcity so note making becomes important. The questions which are asked in paper 2 are current based and dynamic in nature so a blend of sociological and current affairs is necessary while answering questions for this paper.

Regular answer writing is a must for consolidation of your knowledge with a mix of current affairs and static portion. Topics like Informal sector, child labour, Slums and deprivation in urban areas, Violence against women, Poverty, deprivation and inequalities, Regionalism and decentralization of power, Secularization etc can be supplemented with current affairs news.

Case studies conducted by various social researchers have their own role in paper 2. 


Inclusion of case studies in your answers make it more readable and authentic in nature. Besides this it also makes your answer different and unique and hence possibility to score gets higher


Integration of paper 1 and paper 2 is essential as it will add sociological dimensions to your answer. Citing examples from paper 1 and paper 2 interchangeably is a good practice. For example- While talking about farmer suicide, you can mention anomic suicide (Emile Durkheim Theory on Suicide).


A good answer writing approach and practice always bear fruits and translate into good marks. The previous year questions paper can be attempted to have a fair assessment of your performance and preparation level. After completion of the UPSC syllabus, a good test series will be a litmus test of your performance. Keep learning from your mistakes and develop a do it yourself approach that is the key to continuous improvement. One needs to inculcate skills of answer writing with proper structuring and format. Also, a multidimensional, balanced and unique answer is also key to fetch high marks in sociology. In conclusion, the best strategy for Sociology optional is to have the right mix of reading and writing as well as proper revision of the notes.

Click To See Fee Structure