How To Prepare International Relations For UPSC CSE Exam

how to prepare international relations for upsc

International relation is a subject that deals with countries, political systems, borders, and other things. Most of the aspirants used to ponder on “how to prepare International relations for UPSC” and seek guidance to ace their UPSC preparation of this subject.

A lot of students look at international relations as a boring subject but if you are about to appear for your Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination (CSE), it’s high time you started taking interest in it.

In your civil services exam papers, there will be a section on international relations. So here’s a small guide on how to prepare international relations for UPSC CSE exam with ease.

International Relations For UPSC Exam

International Relations is an important topic for UPSC CSE. It includes foreign policies of states, their relations with each other, with international organizations, their foreign trade practices, issues of environmental security, international cooperation, dispute settlement mechanisms, economic sanctions, the increasing role of NGOs, the role of international courts, etc.

It is a current affairs-based topic and standard questions are asked mainly in General studies paper-2 worth 50-80 marks. Being a current affairs-based subject it is of high importance for UPSC civil services examination. International relations is a segment of GS paper-2, as the whole paper is based on Polity and Governance. You need to have a strong command of this subject as the questions are also asked in the Prelims section in the form of current affairs and it is very important to understand the ” Current events of national and international importance “.

UPSC CSE Syllabus For International Relations (IR)

  1. India and its neighborhood- relations.
  2. Bilateral, regional, and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  3. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora, and recent development over the world in context with India.
  4. Important International institutions, agencies, and their structure, and mandate.

Topic-Wise Syllabus Of International Relations For IAS Mains

Topic-wise syllabus of International relations for UPSC Mains is tabulated below:

India & Neighbouring Countries India – Nepal Relations India and Bhutan Indo-Afghan Bilateral Relations India-Bangladesh Relations India-Maldives Relations India-Sri Lanka Relations India-Myanmar Relations Indo-Pak Relations Indo-China Relations South China Sea Dispute Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region
India & Asian Nation Relations CIS Countries of Central Asia India-Mongolia India – UAE Relations India – IRAN India – ISRAEL                  India – Saudi Arabia Asia-Pacific Region India-South East Asia Indo-Japan Bilateral Relationship India – South Korea India-Vietnam
India & Other Nations & Organizations India and Africa Indo-Australia Relationship Indo-France Indo-Germany Indo-UK India-USA Relations The World Trade Organization International Monetary Fund Nuclear Security Summit BRICS BIMSTEC IBSA SAARC Relevance of Non-Alignment in present India India-ASEAN Economic Cooperation

Trend Analysis Of UPSC CSE International Relations

Marks worth of questions asked from International Relations in the various years in UPSC Mains:

Year How many marks of the question of IR came In UPSC
2018 80 marks
2019 75 marks
2020 55 marks

Questions from non-neighbors and various International organizations are asked every year. In 2018, questions worth 25 marks were asked from the section on non-neighbors, and 40 marks were awarded for questions from the section on International organizations. Next year in 2019, 50 marks were awarded for both sections.

International Relations Booklist For UPSC

There are some prescribed books also available in the market that will definitely help you in solving the Prelims part and the static part for Mains answer writing. However, to prepare for the dynamic part, you have to research a lot.

Booklists to cover International Relations for the UPSC Exam are given below, which will help you to complete your UPSC IAS preparation for this subject:


  1. NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
  2. Current Affairs (News Analysis)


  1. India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V.P. Dutt
  2. Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor
  3. Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Rajeev Sikri
  4. India’s Foreign Policy: Coping with the Changing World – Muchkund Dubey
  5. International Relations: Pushpesh Pant
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How To Prepare International Relations For UPSC Mains

IR is a section that is a mixture of both static and dynamic questions. However, most of the questions asked on this subject are based on current affairs and various political scenarios. Around 50-80 marks questions are asked every year. We will look into this in the trend section further. It is very important to keep track of the current International developments, trends, issues, and how various International events are affecting India.

Here are 5 methods discussed below that will help you to understand how to prepare International relations for UPSC with ease:

Mind-Mapping The Whole UPSC Syllabus (3R technique)

It is very important for an aspirant to follow the 3R technique to build a proper mind-map so that it will be easy for them to move on the right path. 3R techniques i.e Read, Recognize and React.

Reading and understanding the whole UPSC CSE syllabus is of utmost importance for an aspirant while appearing for Civil Services Exam. It gives you the core idea and intention of the dynamic topic. After that, recognizing the similar topics which come both in Prelims and UPSC Mains Exams, complex areas, easy areas and the areas which are favorite of UPSC should be done judiciously.

Recognizing and understanding the structure will lead you to take the next step i.e Reacting or taking a step is something that will cover your entire syllabus ultimately. Without any action, there is no use in reading and recognizing the stuff.

Make Concise Notes

Unlike other subjects, there is no particular book to prepare for International relations. You can find books based on the topic but the real problem is that a lot of questions asked in the exam are from the dynamic area. Dynamic-area means that questions are not direct but come from the current affairs section. Therefore, referring to different sorts of books, newspapers, editorials, magazines, and websites of External affairs is the only solution.

You need to make concise notes while studying for this paper. The UPSC syllabus as a whole is vast but you will not be able to cover everything during your preparation. So, it is essential that you make concise notes about the topics that you have studied thoroughly. This will help you remember important concepts easily during the exam and also enable you to answer questions quickly without having to refer back to books or notes too often.

Revise To Retain

It is a fact that UPSC CSE Syllabus is as vast as the sea. Retaining everything is not possible. What is possible is a proper and dedicated revision. Remembering a lot of country matters and diplomatic decisions is not an amateur’s job. You have to upgrade yourself day by day. Revision is the only way to do this. Keep revising your own short and large notes to retain every possible information that is necessary for Mains answer writing.

Practice Answer Writing To Understand More

Mains answer writing needs practice as it demands an opinionated answer from the aspirant. Your answer must contain facts along with your personal opinions on the matter without being emotional. Opinions reflect your understanding of the matter and the more you understand, the more you become a deserving candidate.

To sharpen your opinions and your answer writing skills it is very important to practice more and more. It’s a common saying that “Practice makes a man flawless”. Without practice, it will be a huge mess for you to write on paper at the time of the final examination.

Solve Previous Year Question Papers

The most important part is to prepare yourself for the expected questions. The only way to do this is by solving the previous year’s questions. Previous year’s question papers of the Civil Services Exam not just prepare you for the expected but for the unexpected also. It shows you the type of questions asked, the most favored topics and the trend UPSC follows while asking questions.

How Examarly Helps You in IR Preparation

This blog is devoted to how to prepare International Relations for UPSC with ease which will in turn help you to get ahead of your International Relations for the UPSC exam.

You can build a strong command over this subject with the help of Examarly. As Prelims questions are basically based on the form of current affairs. This platform will help you to cover current affairs properly by letting you know what to cover from “The Hindu” newspaper and “Indian Express” newspaper. Besides this, you will get the daily quiz to test your knowledge on the grounds of current events.

Alternatively, strengthen your command over this subject by solving the quizzes and staying updated with current happenings across the nation with a single click. What are you waiting for? Make Examarly your mentor to ace your UPSC Preparation.

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