[For beginners] How to start UPSC Sociology preparation?

Academics apart, Sociology, and specifically UPSC syllabus of Sociology, will help you improve as an individual.

It has made me more democratic as an individual.

I have become more accommodative to conflicting views – thanks to critical perspectives to every Sociological theory. Many of my long standing doubts have been resolved. For example, marriage in Indian context is about union of two families, whereas in the west marriage is about union of two individuals. That’s why the accompanying instability of marriages in western societies. This is just one example. Now, I can appreciate why policy makers are advocating incorporation of humanities in engineering colleges.

So, welcome to the world of Sociology!

Daily current affairs for Sociology and Social Issues:

Below is a step by step guide for a beginner to prepare UPSC Sociology.

Step 1. Develop a genuine interest in the subject
This is THE most important aspect of UPSC optional preparation. You have to spend a good number of days with your optional subject. Unless you ‘feel like’ studying the subject matter, it would be difficult.
– Do not read any theoretical aspect at the outset.
– Read NCERT Class 12th (not 11th) with an open mind.
– Read this graphics guide to Sociology. (Click on ‘more buying options’ for cheaper alternative) It explains basic Sociological concepts through pictures. It will help you visualize them, thus enabling easy representation in actual exams.

How to gauge whether you are interested in Sociology? [Many aspirants have this doubt]
One of the signs is, you won’t feel like leaving the topic until you have completed it. You won’t have an idea of how much time has passed since you started reading.

Step 2. Go through the syllabus and previous year questions (after 2008), exhaustively
It is important to know what you need to study. It is more important to know what you DO NOT need to study. Syllabus is very important. If possible, MEMORISE the syllabus topics. Relate the topics of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Form mind maps of syllabus. If you have started reading newspapers, relate a news item to relevant UPSC Sociology syllabus topic.

Take this quiz frequently to check your grasp over UPSC Sociology syllabus.

Step 3: First reading of related materials for UPSC Sociology
This is the first reading. Do not make notes.
You can refer to topic wise IGNOU notes- Paper 1 | Paper 2

Try to assimilate the concept when you read it. Relate them to events around you. For example, if you are working in IT sector, relate it to Marx’s concept of alienation.

Purchase this book by Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book).  Make a highly selective reading of this book. Related page nos. of an old edition are given here. You would need to read the corresponding pages in your book. Do not pay much attention to case studies mentioned in this book. They are not required anymore. Reading this book would enable you to develop your own insights. What you read from readymade notes are the insights of the person who prepared those notes. Hope you understand what I am trying to convey! There is an orange book by Haralambos and Heald. It is currently not available online.

For Paper 2 thinkers, please refer to this book by B.K.Nagla. Quote the findings of these thinkers in your answers. For example you can quote G S Ghurye in questions related to integration of tribes.

You may struggle with definitions of some terms mentioned in the above sources. Also, you may find that some topics from syllabus have not been covered. Do not worry about it now! They are covered below.

Step 4: Second reading and note making
-Get 2 ring binder files and A4 sheets
-Go through previous year questions again. This would help you in sticking to the demand of UPSC exam while making notes
-Go through the sources mentioned in Step 3. Make notes in A4 papers and compile them in the ring binder file. In future, when you make value addition to these topics, you can simply put the A4 sheet at its right place in the file. Thus, all notes of a particular topic would be at one place – easy to revise in the last few days before exam.
-Get this Oxford dictionary for Sociology. It would help you improve your understanding of Sociological terms. In many answers you are required to begin with a definition of the term mentioned in question. This book would be handy.

A common problem is Paper 2 getting less focus than Paper 1. To address this, I have prepared a combined strategy that groups related topics form Paper 1 and Paper 2.

You can follow the above strategy, and you will observe how you have started relating topics from Paper 1 and Paper 2.  ALWAYS keep UPSC Sociology syllabus and previous year question by your side. You are gradually becoming a pro in UPSC Sociology 🙂

Step 5: Value addition and filling the gaps
It is now time to cover the missing topics and further enrich the content already made.

Check the sources below. In the first reading itself jot down points in your A4 sheet, and attach these sheets at the right place in the ring binder file. Once you have made notes from these sources, further reading may not be required.

Coaching handwritten notes: Upendra Gaur Sir for Paper 1 &
Mohapatra Sir for Paper 2| PDFs for unconventional topics | Real world examples |
Articles with Sociological perspectives | NIOS topicwise notes |NCERT topic wise notes | Book list

Note: NCERT Sociology is an undiscovered treasure. In the first reading you may find it irrelevant. The more you get accustomed to nuances of UPSC Sociology, the more respect you would develop for NCERT. Read all 4 NCERTs now; make notes and fit them at their designated place in the ring binder file. Pay special attention to the language, try to replicate the same in your answers in Paper 2. Embed your answers with examples, case studies etc. given in these NCERTs. These examples and case studies would act as an icing on the cake.
Hope you have not forgotten keeping syllabus and previous year questions by your side while you make these notes.

Step 6: Keep an eye on current affairs, Budget, Economic survey, reports, government schemes etc.
Economic survey 2017 has a chapter on Son meta-preference [UPSC Sociology Syllabus topic: Patriarchy]

Economic survey 2017 is in pink color [Useful in women empowerment topics]

Every year budget has provisions for elderly, women etc. [Useful for Paper 2]

Topicwise government schemes for UPSC Sociology Paper 2 can be found here.

Current affairs: Join our telegram channel: Search for @SociologyAndSocialIssues in your Telegram OR click on this link https://t.me/SociologyAndSocialIssues

Ad-3 ARSENAL: UPSC Sociology comprehensive course

Topic wise: Notes  | Animations | Videos | Cartoons | Question Bank

Both Paper 1 and Paper 2

For more details, click here

To enroll, click here


Time to evaluate yourself
You already have previous year questions (mentioned above in Step 2). Attempt questions of each UPSC Sociology syllabus topic. You may start from 2008 paper – there was a pattern change in 2008.

Read toppers’ answer sheets for reference

Refer to blogs of UPSC Sociology toppers. Do not follow them blindly. Use their strategy to modify yours if required.

Attend a test series. Stick to its routine religiously. Form a group of serious aspirants for discussion.

If you are serious, the worst that can happen is you being a better individual!

All you need is:
Few books:
Sociology syllabus and prev. year questions  ||
Sociology through images and graphics ||
Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book) ||
NCERT Class 11th and 12th ||
B.K Nagla for Paper 2 ||
Sociology dictionary by Oxford||

Ring binder file and A4 sheets

Class notes of Paper 1 (Upendra Sir) & Paper 2 (Mohapatra Sir) [Click here for complete Sociology notes of Upendra Gaur Sir]

Internet connectivity and lots of answer writing practice. Do revise your own answers. There are two benefits of doing this:-
1. Every subsequent revision will reveal to you the areas you need to improve, how to further improve that particular answer. Others can rarely do this for you!
2. You will be in touch with your strong areas, thus increasing the chances of replicating them in actual exam.

I have tried to present an exhaustive write up on how to begin UPSC Sociology preparation from scratch. Feel free to drop me an email on musmuna95@gmail.com OR ping me on Telegram @rna1095 in case of any doubt. Remember, no doubt is silly! So, please get all your doubts resolved before it is too late.

May you succeed!

ARSENAL: UPSC Sociology Comprehensive Course: Click here for details

Our telegram channel: https://t.me/SociologyAndSocialIssues


21 thoughts on “[For beginners] How to start UPSC Sociology preparation?

Add yours

  1. clear and simple explanation make it easier to understand. The best website to rely on for sociology optional. All the important notes and materials are available, reliable and credible. Hats off to you.


  2. Please tell me the sequence of study. I am fresher. NIOS, IGNOU, NCERT.Which I will study first. Should I not study NIOS. I directly study IGNOU material. Which is better for paper 2: Sinduri madam notes/ Mahapatra sir notes.Because I have already Sinduri madam notes.


    1. Please use NIOS only for topics that are missing in standard sources. Or if you are struggling with some concept.
      Sorry for the delayed response!


  3. Finally i found .. best website for upsc sociology optional, You made it very easy to understand everything related to sociology optional. Best for beginners Thank you so much… great work ..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks a lot…. Last time i have appeared for cse17 interview n i got 123 marks in paper 1 n 145 in paper 2 but that time i have not satisfied with my sociology preparation but one day i got ur link n i was manage each n every single topic of sociology syllabus n easily covered with the help of ur site.. So i m thankful to u n hope i will give my best after 2 days 7/10/18 cse 18 optional exam..


  5. Hey! This was really a big doubts-solver for me. I just have one question-is Nitin Sanghwan’s book good? Is it sufficient if I only read that book?


  6. My fear of preparation without coaching is gone. Now I’m ready to prepare myself . Really excellent works you have done. Do I need to cover all topics in Nagala book ?


  7. Thank you So much You amazingly explained everything about sociology, how to start and from where to refer for each topic


  8. I just can’t say what I am feeling now. 🙂
    I have no guidance and doing it all without coaching. I watched lots of YouTube Videos but all have said same thing which I couldn’t understand because I have no Sociology background. Thank god I accidentally clicked on link and it dropped me here. Your explanation to each and every topic and providing link for the same is like a guardian holding child’s finger and guiding the right path.
    Thank you so very much.
    Ajeet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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