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Sociology Optional Subject for UPSC

Sociology Optional

Society is not a mere sum of individuals. Rather, the system formed by their association & represents a specific reality which has its own characteristics” – Emile Durkheim

Selecting the ideal optional subject for UPSC can significantly impact your performance in the mains exam. Your choice should prioritize achieving maximum marks, serving as a fallback when General Studies scores are not as expected, and unleashing your potential. Therefore, a thorough self-analysis of your interests is crucial. Additionally, you should assess the availability of quality courses for beginners in the chosen subject. Nevertheless, UPSC aspirants frequently grapple with this decision.

This article aims to assist candidates considering Sociology as their optional subject. We will delve into the subject, provide an in-depth syllabus overview, and highlight its potential for scoring well in the mains paper. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of why Sociology can be a valuable choice for enhancing your mains score. So, read on!

About Sociology

Sociology serves as the systematic examination of social existence, human behavior, causative factors, the repercussions of our actions, patterns within social interactions, institutional structures, and the cultural facets of diverse societies. It equips individuals with a deeper comprehension of both society and the broader world. Unlike subjects such as History and Geography, which are typically taught in schools, Sociology is inherently woven into our daily lives. It operates at an intimate level, influencing our behavior at home, in school, and even among friends, often without our conscious recognition. Our conduct, communication, interactions, and functions all serve as fundamental elements of this subject’s domain.

Learning Sociology as a course

The fact that individuals often have preconceived notions about society can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. On the positive side, students come into the subject with some prior knowledge, which can make them feel more comfortable and less intimidated. However, this familiarity can also present a challenge. To truly grasp Sociology, one must first “unlearn” some of what they already know, whether it’s based on personal experiences, books, or popular culture. The initial phase of studying Sociology primarily involves this process of unlearning. It’s necessary to create a clean slate for teachers to build upon because biased opinions and preconceived notions can often disrupt the natural flow of learning.

Things to Keep In Mind While Choosing Sociology As Optional

  1. Interest – When it comes to choosing an optional subject, it is of utmost importance that you have an interest in that particular subject. With interest in the subject, you will be able to score even the highest marks in the Optional subject out of all your Mains papers.
  2. Background– If you are from an Arts background, you can easily go for Sociology. But, if you have a Science/Commerce/technical background, you have to research a bit about the subject as you must have lost touch with the Humanities subjects for quite a bit of time. In any of the cases, you must have the interest to learn the subject further – whether with the help of guidebooks or coaching classes. Many of the topics will also overlap with your GS syllabus of the Civil Services examination.
  3. Resources– The availability of study material plays an important role in deciding the justify optional for you. For a subject like sociology, ample study sources are available. But, there can be a lot of confusion regarding the subject even if you are an expert in the subject. This happens because the subject has to be studied from UPSC point of view and an experienced guide from IAS Next will be able to guide you through the task of selecting the justified books. Also, proper coaching will enable you to understand and learn the justify portion of the syllabus of the UPSC optional paper.
  4. Rationality– In case you choose any other optional subject, you would have to read a considerable amount of Sociology related topics especially in current affairs. If you are left with lesser time, it is reasonable to opt for sociology. It will reduce your burden and will save your time as it can be learned from practical experiences as well.

Reasons to Opt for Sociology as an Optional Subject

  1. Consistency – The Sociology optional is performing consistently well. Also, an increasing no. of students are opting for this subject year after year. Moreover, students with sociology optional are consistently getting top ranks in UPSC. Students who gave their Mains paper with Sociology as an optional, have scored really high marks according to trends.
  2. Overlapping with other papers– It overlaps with almost the entire GENERAL STUDIES syllabus. Also, Sociology related questions can be found in the Essay paper as well because it is a subject that requires experiences gained from society and a bit of research and proper guidance from experienced mentors. Sociology is one subject that has its relevance in many aspects of our lives.
  3. Availability of study materials– Further, there is more than enough study material available for Sociology and students will be able to gather all the relevant material for the same without much hassle.
  4. High Scoring and Success RatioSociology is relatively easier compared to other optional subjects. It is easy in the sense that it is more relatable and takes lesser time to understand. Students can easily score 300+ marks if there is a well-devised study plan. Also, the selection of candidates who selected Sociology is on the rise every passing year.
  5. Helps in InterviewSociology as an optional subject also helps with the UPSC interview as questions related to society, general views on societal and cultural relations are also asked.

Is Sociology A Scoring Subject

Many candidates opt for Sociology as their optional based on the success ratio of the subject. Many candidates have been able to score 300+ in Sociology and many have managed to bag top ranks. However, UPSC does not biased among the optional subjects but one must choose their optional wisely based on their strengths and weaknesses.

Marks of Some Toppers in Sociology Optional:

Name of the CandidateYear of PassingTotal Marks (500)Sociology Paper I (250 Marks)Sociology Paper II (250 Marks)
Chandramohan GargCSE-2015233120113
Utkarsh GuptaCSE-2016289156133
Ila TripathiCSE-2016301134167
Anu KumariCSE-2017318163155
Vishal ShahCSE-2018329171158

Optional subject marks play an important role in improving your UPSC-CSE all India ranking. Also, if you have not scored well in GS papers, and if you can score well in optional papers, you can still find your name in UPSC-CSE final list.

Sociology Optional Coaching Fees

Sr.Course & FeaturesFees
1.Online Video Lectures for Both Optional Papers 1 & 2 + Study Material in Soft Copy + Test SeriesRs. 30,000/-
2.Online Video Lectures for Both Optional Papers 1 & 2 + Study Material in Soft CopyRs. 20,000/-

Sociology Optional Test Series Schedule

Test No.Test NameSyllabus (Chapters)
1SOCIOLOGY TEST-01 (SECTIONAL)1. Sociology ‐ The Discipline:
2. Sociology as Science:
3. Research Methods and Analysis:
2SOCIOLOGY TEST-02 (SECTIONAL)4. Sociological Thinkers:
(a) Karl Marx
(b) Emile Durkheim
(c) Max Weber
(d) Talcott Parsons
(e) Robert K. Merton
(f) Mead
5. Stratification and Mobility :
3SOCIOLOGY TEST-03 (SECTIONAL)6. Works and Economic Life :
7. Politics and Society:
8. Religion and Society :
9. Systems of Kinship:
10. Social Change in Modern Society :
4SOCIOLOGY TEST-04 (SECTIONAL)A. Introducing Indian Society :
(i) Perspectives on the Study of Indian Society :
(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society :
5SOCIOLOGY TEST-05 (SECTIONAL)B. Social Structure:
(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
(ii) Caste System:
(iii) Tribal Communities in India:
(iv) Social Classes in India:
(v) Systems of Kinship in India:
(vi) Religion and Society :
6SOCIOLOGY TEST-06 (SECTIONAL)C. Social Changes in India:
(i) Visions of Social Change in India:
(ii) Rural and Agrarian Transformation in India:
(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
(iv) Politics and Society :
(v) Social Movements in Modern India :
(vi) Population Dynamics :
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation :
FEE (Inclusive of all taxes): Rs.10000/*- only
Note: Date of Mock Test can be rescheduled on the demand of the aspirants. (POSTPONE, BUT NOT PREPONE)

Why One Should Join IAS Next For Sociology?

  1. Detailed coverage of both Sociology paper I & II for UPSC mains exam – We make sure that you are taught from zero level so don’t worry about being able to grasp everything in the class. We believe in steady progress rather than a fast pace because we want you to retain all that you learn. If things are done in a haste, they are easily forgotten.
  2. Updated Current Affairs teaching for the dynamic section of Sociology – We make sure that your dynamic portion is covered equally well because you will have to produce multi-dimensional answers.
  3. Explanation of the interlinks between Sociology and GS papers – As a beginner, you might not know how to write in order to gain marks in the UPSC Mains exam. This paper is very different from your school or college exams. You have to include any aspect that can be linked to any of the subjects that exist. We will explain how to analyze and link relevant topics.
  4. Availability of topic-wise module with coverage of each topic – We provide modules so you can refer to these modules while you study after the class lectures. You will find tons of examples to help you understand and retain better.
  5. Special lecture series on Answer writing practice – The most important part of your Optional paper is answer writing practice. We provide extensive guidance on ‘How to write the perfect answer for a better score. You will be able to master this art with the help of our lecture series and mock tests.
  6. 150+ hours of Offline/Online lectures by Delhi based faculty members – Our finest faculty team will guide you through the basics of Sociology to decoding the concepts of great thinkers.
  7. Political Science
  8. Geography Optional

Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By IAS Next

Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By IAS Next.

  • Super Affordable fees:
    Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By IAS Next.
  • Your time, Your Place:
    While offline IAS coaching has a fixed schedule, online coaching is flexible. Aspirants can save time because the cost and time of travel is zero. Also, the best part of online coaching is that you can access the best lecturers anytime and anywhere.
  • Rescheduling:
    One of the biggest advantages of online Sociology optional coaching is that no lecture or topic will be missed. This is possible because you can record your lectures and watch it only when you have space and time.
  • Experienced Faculty for Sociology Optional course:
    Our highly accomplished faculty is lauded for redefining the approach to seeing optional subjects as an easy one if one plays with the justify strategy. You don’t have to worry about your optional once you join us. We will guide you all along your preparation journey and mold you for your optional. Once you join us, you become our responsibility!

IAS Next’s Specialized Online Course for Sociology Optional Subject

This course has been specially designed for those who –

  • Are interested in opting for Sociology as optional with or without an academic background in Sociology. We start with the basics and gradually increase the level.
  • Are facing problems in correlating and connecting theories and concepts. Our classes are based on the concept of reading texts in a related manner.
  • Studied the subject on their own but are facing problems in writing standard answers. We will make your basics clear so you can write lucid answers to the best of your abilities. We polish what you already have in you.
  • Are facing challenges in unfolding their knowledge to clear basic notions and theories – Our expert faculty team will clear all your doubts with one on one sessions as well. You will always find somebody to help and guide you and answer all your queries regarding Sociology.

Answer Writing Tips for Sociology

  • While writing the Sociology optional paper, candidates must keep in mind that the answer for sociology should look different from the GS answers. Your answer should have a subject-specialist approach.
  • Scholar views, facts & technical words can be added to the optional subject to score well in Sociology. This will show that you have read relevant authors and thinkers.
  • Cite Supreme Court and High Court judgments in the answer wherever necessary. This makes your answer well-informed and filled with relevant points.
  • Some questions are based on thinkers. So, start your answer with books and quotations written by them. You can also add a brief life history of the thinkers to show how their early life influenced their writings. This way, your answer will have a flow and grab the attention of the examiner..
  • Usually, questions asked in Paper I are static in nature and those in Paper II are of dynamic type. For optional Paper-II, try to interlink your answer with current events and other subjects to make it a holistic one.

Syllabus for Sociology PAPER – I

Fundamentals of Sociology

  1. Sociology – The Discipline
    (a) Modernity and Social changes in Europe and the Emergence of Sociology.
    (b) Scope of the subject and comparison with other Social Sciences.
    (c) Sociology and common sense.
  2. Sociology as Science:
    (a) Science, scientific method, and critique.
    (b) Major theoretical strands of Research Methodology.
    (c) Positivism and its critique.
    (d) Fact value and objectivity.
    (e) Non-positivist methodologies.
  3. Research Methods and Analysis:
    (a) Qualitative and quantitative methods.
    (b) Techniques of data collection.
    (c) Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability, and validity.
  4. Sociological Thinkers:
    (a) Karl Marx – Historical materialism, Mode of production, Alienation, Class struggle.
    (b) Emile Durkheim – Division of labor, social fact, suicide, religion, and society.
    (c) Max Weber – Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, the protestant ethic, and the spirit of capitalism.
    (d) Talcott Parsons – Social system, pattern variables.
    (e) Robert K. Merton – Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups.
    (f) Mead – Self, and identity
  5. Stratification and Mobility:
    (a) Concepts – equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty, and deprivation.
    (b) Theories of social stratification – Structural functionalist theory, Marxist theory, Weberian theory.
    (c) Dimensions – Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity, and race.
    (d) Social mobility – open and closed systems, types of mobility, sources and causes of mobility
  6. Works and Economic Life:
    (a) The social organization of work in different types of society – slave society, feudal society, industrial capitalist society.
    (b) Formal and informal organization of work.
    (c) Labour and society.
  7. Politics and Society:
    (a) Sociological theories of power.
    (b) Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.
    (c) Nation, State, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.
    (d) The protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
  8. Religion and Society:
    (a) Sociological theories of religion.
    (b) Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.
    (c) Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
  9. Systems of Kinship:
    (a) Family, household, marriage.
    (b) Types and forms of family.
    (c) Lineage and descent.
    (d) Patriarchy and the sexual division of labor.
    (e) Contemporary trends.
  10. Social Change in Modern Society:
    (a) Sociological theories of social change.
    (b) Development and dependency.
    (c) Agents of social change.
    (d) Education and social change.
    (e) Science, technology, and social change.


  1. Perspectives on the Study of Indian Society:
    (a) Indology (G.S. Ghurye).
    (b) Structural functionalism (M. N. Srinivas).
    (c) Marxist sociology (A. R. Desai).
  2. Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:
    (a) The social background of Indian nationalism.
    (b) Modernization of Indian tradition.
    (c) Protests and movements during the colonial period.
    (d) Social reforms

B. Social Structure:

  1. Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
    (a) The idea of Indian village and village studies.
    (b) Agrarian social structure—the evolution of the land tenure system, land reforms
  2. Caste System:
    (a) Perspectives on the study of caste systems: G. S. Ghurye, M. N. Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
    (b) Features of the caste system.
    (c) Untouchability-forms and perspectives
  3. Tribal Communities in India:
    (a) Definitional problems.
    (b) Geographical spread.
    (c) Colonial policies and tribes.
    (d) Issues of integration and autonomy.
  4. Social Classes in India:
    (a) Agrarian class structure.
    (b) Industrial class structure.
    (c) Middle classes in India.
  5. Systems of Kinship in India:
    (a) Lineage and descent in India.
    (b) Types of kinship systems.
    (c) Family and marriage in India.
    (d) Household dimensions of the family.
    (e) Patriarchy, entitlements, and the sexual division of labor.
  6. Religion and Society:
    (a) Religious communities in India.
    (b) Problems of religious minorities.

C. Social Changes in India:

  1. Visions of Social Change in India:
    (a) The idea of development planning and a mixed economy.
    (b) Constitution, law, and social change.
    (c) Education and social change.
  2. Rural and Agrarian Transformation in India:
    (a) Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.
    (b) Green revolution and social change.
    (c) Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture.
    (d) Problems of rural labor, bondage, migration.
  3. Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
    (a) Evolution of modern industry in India.
    (b) Growth of urban settlements in India.
    (c) Working-class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
    (d) The informal sector, child labor.
    (e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
  4. Politics and Society:
    (a) Nation, democracy, and citizenship.
    (b) Political parties, pressure groups, social and political elite.
    (c) Regionalism and decentralization of power.
    (d) Secularization.
  5. Social Movements in Modern India:
    (a) Peasants and farmers’ movements.
    (b) Women’s movement.
    (c) Backward classes & Dalit movements.
    (d) Environmental movements.
    (e) Ethnicity and Identity movements.
  6. Population Dynamics:
    (a) Population size, growth, composition, and distribution.
    (b) Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
    (c) Population Policy and family planning.
    (d) Emerging issues: Ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
  7. Challenges of Social Transformation:
    (a) Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems, and sustainability.
    (b) Poverty, deprivation, and inequalities.
    (c) Violence against women.
    (d) Caste conflicts.
    (e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
    (f) Illiteracy and disparities in education.

Recommended Booklist:


  1. Haralambos & Holborn Sociology: Themes And Perspectives- Haralambos
  2. Sociology – Anthony Giddens
  3. Sociological Theory – George Ritzer
  4. Sociological Thought – Francis Abraham, John Henry Morgan
  5. Political Theory – O P Gauba
  6. Essential Sociology– Nitin Sangwan


  1. Indian Society, NCERT Class 12
  2. Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends – Ram Ahuja
  3. Social Change In Modern India – M. N. SRINIVAS
  4. Modernization Of Indian Tradition – Yogendra Singh
  5. Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends – Ram Ahuja
  6. Social Problems In India – Ram Ahuja
  7. Persistence and Change in Tribal India – M.V. Rao

Although you can study Sociology as an optional all by yourself, a proper guidance pays off when you have to sit for the exam. Experts who have been teaching Sociology almost all their life will teach you in a way that will open doors to understanding new concepts. Many toppers took up Sociology Optional course and they were able to score really high. You can visit our center and check the type and quality of teaching we impart. You can also attend our mock classes to be sure before enrolling.

Read Also: Religion and Society

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