UPSC Exam Preparation: IAS Booklist for Sociology Optional

This article gives a complete list of books for UPSC Mains Sociology optional subject and the strategy for preparation.

Sociology is considered as one of the best optional subjects as the trend of choosing this subject for mains is increasing among the candidates. The reason being, it covers some of the topics that overlap with the General Studies Papers and Essay Paper of the UPSC Mains Exam. 

Booklist for Sociology Optional Subject 


Sociology Paper – I

  • NCERT 11th and 12th sociology books
  • IGNOU notes ( especially for thinkers)
  • Sociology Themes and Perspectives – Haralambosand Heald
  • Capitalism and Modern Social Theory – Anthony Giddens
  • Sociology: A Guideto Problems and Literature –   B. Bottomore 

Sociology Paper – II

  • NCERT 11th and 12th sociology books
  • IGNOU notes ( especially for thinkers and topics on Indian system)
  • Modernization Of Indian Tradition b- Yogendra Singh

 Preparation Strategy for Sociology Optional 


  • Always start with the basics. In order to cover the basics, one can refer the Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn and then read the NCERT Books of class 11 and 12 followed by other books mentioned above.
  • Important topics to focus
    • Max Weber ( Bureaucracy and capitalism)
    • Karl Marx (Problemsof Communism)
    • Herbert Spencer ( Relationship between Science and sociology)
    • Emile Durkheim ( Religion and suicide)
    • For Sociology Paper II, one should focus on Great Indian Thinkers and the consequence of sociology followed by certain thinkers and its impact on India, the contribution of Indian and Western Sociologists. Since Paper II is dynamic one must also keep an eye on the current affairs.
  • One should practice answer writing religiously and should be thorough with the Sociology Syllabus of UPSC Mains and develop skills to structure the answers and present it appropriately.
  • Practice previous years’ UPSC Question Papers.
  • Understanding the topics and subtopics are important and this can be achieved only with detailed study and repeated revisions.
  • The Paper II requires correlating concepts and facts, hence candidates should also be aware of the current issues related to the development, structure and functioning of human society and social problems. For e.g. MNREGA scheme of the government can be correlated with poverty, women empowerment, social change, rural transformation etc.
  • Some tit-bits on answer writing for Sociology optional paper
    • Should be well-versed with Great thinkers, their ideas and their quotes
    • Logical arrangement and expression in the answer
    • Interlinking contemporary topics in answer

Benefits of choosing Sociology as optional subject for UPSC Mains


  • The syllabus is short.
  • Candidates with any education background can choose this subject and cover the syllabus in a short period of time.
  • Some of the topics overlap with the General studies and Essay papers of UPSC Mains Exam.
  • With the right approach and structure of answer, one can score well.

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