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In the words of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Political Science is the master science.” Well, few could refute this statement. Political Science continues to be one of the most dynamic and all-encompassing field of study in modern times. The discipline and its sub-branches command wide popularity and relevance to this day.

Here, a comprehensive list of books that every UPSC CSE aspirant who has POLITICAL SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (PSIR) as their optional paper should refer to is provided.

If you are an undergraduate political science student studying in Indian colleges, you will find these books extremely useful.

I hope this list serves the purpose of your visit to my blog! If you have anything to say or suggest, I will be glad to read it in the comments below.


Politics by Andrew Heywood: This book is one of the most easily comprehensible introductory books to Political Science. Reading this book will enable you to have a good basic understanding of almost all the concepts relevant to the discipline. You will have a tough time finding an alternative to this book.

Political Theory by Andrew Heywood: Another excellent introductory book to political theory by Andrew Heywood. While you will be well equipped with the basic concepts of political theory after reading Politics, this book is also highly engaging and easily accessible. You can be contented with either Politics or Political Theory though.

An Introduction to Political Theory by O. P. Gauba: This books is a favorite of Delhi University and many other Indian university students. The book is largely based on the Delhi University syllabus for undergraduate political science students.

Political Theory- An Introduction by Rajeev Bhargava and Ashok Acharya: This book is a compilation of various articles on the important concepts of political theory. Some of the articles are quite good. I liked the articles by Rajeev Bhargava, Krishna Menon, Nivedita Menon and some others. This book is also widely recommended in Delhi University and many other Indian universities.


A thorough understanding of political ideologies is a must if you want to master political theory. And, an excellent understanding of political ideologies and political theory will make you an excellent student of Political Science.

Political Ideologies by Andrew Heywood: This introductory book includes all the important political ideologies that are relevant to a student of Political Science. The book (like any other book by Andrew Heywood) is highly accessible and handy.

Contemporary Political Philosophy- An Introduction by Will Kymlicka: Will Kymlicka wrote this marvelous book shortly after he finished graduate school. Yes, you read it correctly! And, this is one of the most widely recommended books on critical introduction to political theory. This books is one of a kind.


History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell: This is one of the best and comprehensive books on Western Political Thought. I read it in my undergraduate years and enjoyed it thoroughly. This book is that one book you would keep for a lifetime.

Western Political Thoughts- From Socrates to the Age of Ideology by Brian R. Nelson: This book is introductory in nature and clearly explains the concepts. Though you may not have an easy reading with this book, you will not regret reading this book. It is that much worthy.

A History of Political Thought- Plato to Marx by Subrata Mukherjee and Shushila Ramaswamy: This is the easiest book you could ever read on western political thought. The book is written in a very simple and easily understandable manner.


Indian Political Thought by Himanshu Roy and M. P. Singh: Out of all the introductory books on Indian Political Thought, I find this book the most comprehensive and easily accessible to the students. The 2017 edition of the book covers almost all the relevant Indian philosophers, thinkers, and leaders in a lucid manner.

Makers of Modern India by Ramachandra Guha: This book will be of immense help if you are trying to understand the original thoughts of the thinkers. The book includes the original writings of Ambedkar, Gandhi and others which are quite engaging when you read. This is one of the good books to understand the thought-process of the makers of modern India.


Comparative Politics Today- A World View by Gabriel A. Almond and G. Bingham Powell: The books gives great detail about how the various governmental structures in the international milieu function. It also clearly explains various concepts of comparative politics. You may find it dry at times but still a worthy book to explore.

Comparative Politics by J. C. Johari: For students in Indian universities, this book is the better option among others available in the market at the moment. It covers the conceptual portions of comparative politics quite well. Not my favorite though!

World Constitutions- A Comparative Study by Vishnoo Bhagwan and Vidya Bhushan: Leaving aside the conceptual part of comparative politics which is not covered in this book, the comparison of various constitutions and government structures in this book is excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book in my undergraduate years and helped me comprehend comparative politics in the most comprehensive way.


World Politics- International Relations and Globalization in the 21st Century by Jeffrey Haynes and et al.: This is an excellent textbook that offers a comprehensive and accessible discussion of contemporary IR theory and global issues. The book provides a useful introduction to major issues and theories in world politics. The snippets of central ideas in green boxes are quite helpful. The design of the latest edition is quite compelling to read. It is published by Sage Publications.

The Globalization of World Politics- An Introduction to International Relations by Steve Smith and et al.: This is another excellent introductory textbook on international relations and extensively covers contemporary global issues. It competes with the first book on IR. It is published by Oxford University Press. You can have either the Oxford publications or the Sage Publications. Both are equally good.

Global Politics by Andrew Heywood: If you prefer a little thinner and lighter yet provides you almost all that you need to understand international relations in the most basic manner, then this is the one for you. However, this book will be limiting in the way you could understand theories of international relations. This will perfectly cover the basics though. The book is also least costly compared to the first two books.


There are quite a number of books on India’s Foreign Policy. But after a careful study, the ones that stand out for their quality and at the same time serve our purpose are given here.

India’s Foreign Policy- Coping With the Changing World by Muchkund Dubey: This is one of the best introductory books to India’s foreign policy. The coverage of the topics are comprehensive and the language of the book is easily understandable. The book is quite up-to-date and covers topics including India’s neighbors and the diaspora.

How India Sees the World- Kautilya to the 21st Century by Shyam Saran: The author of the book is one of the most prominent Indian diplomats. This book is an indispensable reading for better understanding of India’s foreign policy in the contemporary era.

Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy by David Malone: A highly engaging and easily readable, this book is a must read introductory book on India’s foreign policy. Written from the perspective of outside of India’s think tank, this book provides an excellent reading of India’s foreign policy. 

Other equally important books that one can refer for this area of study can be Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century by Shashi Tharoor and Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri.


The Oxford Companion to Politics in India by Niraja Gopal Jayal and Pratap Bhanu Mehta: Every student of Indian government and politics should have this book. It provides a fine reading of India’s political system. You will have a fascinating time going through the outstanding articles by distinguished contemporary political scientists of India.

Indian Government and Politics by B. L. Fadia: This book is huge and bulky. However, it can be useful for a very basic introduction to the subject. The language is very easy. It covers all the topics. It is like a ready-made book for examination.

Other than these two books, you can look up these books by Subhash Kashyap, a constitutional expert: Our Constitution, Our Parliament, and Our Political System. These books are small and can be read in few sittings, while giving a thorough understanding of Indian polity.


India’s Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947 by Bipan Chandra: There is no need for any introduction of the author or the book. This is the one indispensable book on modern history of India read by millions of students and the academicians alike. You can simply don’t have a choice but to read this book as your introduction to modern Indian history.

India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra: As astounding as India’s Struggle for Independence, this book details the history of India after its independence. It includes various issues and events occurred in the independent India and continues to be a preferred book for students.

India After Gandhi- The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha: An excellent work, this book can be an alternative to India Since Independence. It is as good as Bipan Chandra’s book and sometimes excels in certain aspects. If you have this book, you can do away with Bipan Chandra’s India Since Independence.

Raj to Swaraj by Ram Pradhan: This book is like short notes of each topic you need to study for the examination. The book is well written and can be extremely useful if you are just one week away from the examination!

Happy Reading and Best Wishes!


3 thoughts on “Political Science and International Relations Book List for UPSC CSE

  1. I truly appreciate your invaluable contribution to the civil service aspirants. With great insight and wide experience in the subject, you’ve painstakingly brought out such indispensable booklist with well-explained reviews. I’m inspired to see our own Naga fellow having made such promising progress in academic sphere. God is faithful. Wish you all the very best in all your future endeavours.
    Ma’am, having said that, I have some personal queries regarding UPSC Pol. Sc study materials since you’ve been a UPSC aspirant yourself. Based on the popular suggestion, is it advisable to mainly/only stick to coaching notes( Subhra Ma’am’s) taking into account “Time” factor (limited time)? How should one prepare dynamic topics like “India and the world” from news articles/current affairs? I find it time-consuming to be reading each topic from various books suggested by you. As a science student opting this entirely new subject, I’ll be very grateful if you can advise me how to prepare from the suggested books in one year keeping in mind GS papers. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jacky, good to see such enthusiasm from an aspirant from the region.
      First of all, if you do not have a Political Science or social science background, I suggest you attend optional class for the the subject. Without attending the classes, you may not find the direction and the usefulness of just the class-notes. Well, if you are too good in any subject, then just the class-notes may work as well. Otherwise, Subhra Ranjan Ma’am’s notes are not enough. From my experience, the quality of class-notes differ from batch to batch. Moreover, some portions of the syllabus are not well-covered in the class (like Indian polity, dynamic portions of IR and IFP). You need to work on those areas yourself.
      In an ideal situation where you dedicate at least 3-4 hours a day to the subject, you must be able to finish complete the whole syllabus in 5 months.
      How to prepare for dynamic parts of PSIR syllabus? I need a separate post on this one!
      Best wishes!

  2. I’m really sorry for addressing you with the wrong address “Ma’am” & “region” ☺️ I beg your pardon for the misunderstanding. Anyway, thank you so much for your invaluable inputs and suggestions. You have cleared my doubts regarding Subhra’s Notes, as l also find variation in the coverage. Like you said, I will have to work out for topics left half-covered.

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