Which Optional Subject Has the Shortest Syllabus?


UPSC candidates believe that an easy optional subject is one that has fewer study topics. That is, the optional subject which is small is also easy. How true this thing is, we will tell you about it in today's article.

Apart from this, if you also want to know which the smallest optional subject of UPSC is, then stay with us till the end of today’s article, because in today's tutorial, we are going to provide you with all the important information regarding it.

So let's start

Which Optional Subject Has the Shortest Syllabus?

Somehow, it’s difficult to provide exact ranked information about the optional subject which have the shortest syllabus in UPSC, as the length of the syllabus can vary depending on factors such as the number of topics covered, the depth of the content, and the complexity of the subject matter.

But Philosophy is usually considered to be the shortest optional subject for UPSC. Also, It’s not confirmed by UPSC.

Also, some optional subjects that are generally considered to have shorter syllabi include −

  • Philosophy

  • Political Science and International Relations

  • Geography

  • Management

  • Economics

  • Anthropology

  • Public Administration

  • Sociology

  • Psychology

  • Mathematics

You have to take this point that while these subjects may have shorter syllabi, they can still be challenging and require extensive preparation to mark well in the CSE Exam. It's important for you to choose an optional subject that aligns with your interests and strengths.

Entire Syllabus for Philosophy Optional Subject for UPSC

The syllabus for Philosophy Optional Subject for UPSC is as follows −


History and Problems of Philosophy

Plato and Aristotle- it will include the Ideas, Substance, Form and Matter, Causality, Actuality, and Potentiality.

Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz - Includes Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge, Substance, God, Mind-Body Dualism, Determinism, and Freedom.

Locke, Berkeley, Hume - This includes Substance and Qualities, the Idealism & Scepticism, Substance, and Self.

Kant - This includes the Possibility of Synthetic A priori Judgments. Also, Space and Time, Categories, Ideas of Reason, Antinomies, and Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God.

Hegel- this will include Dialectical Method, Absolute Idealism.

Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein- this will include Defence of Commonsense, Refutation of Idealism, Logical Atomism, Logical Constructions, Incomplete Symbols, and Picture Theory of Meaning, Saying, and Showing.

Logical Positivism - this will include the Verification Theory of Meaning, Rejection of Metaphysics, and Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions.

Later Wittgenstein- this will include Meaning and Use, Language-games, and Critique of Private Language.

Socio-Political Philosophy

Social and Political Ideals - This will include Equality, Justice & Liberty.

Sovereignty - This will include Austin, Bodin, Laski & Kautilya.

Individual and State - This will include Rights, Duties, and Accountability of the State, Forms of Government, Rule of Law& Welfare State, Secularism, and Religious Freedom.

Justice - This will include Conceptions of Justice with special reference to Rawl's Theory of Justice and its communitarian critiques.

Property - This will include Marxist and Libertarian approaches, Propertarianism, and its critiques.

Equality - This will include Social, Political Economic, and Affirmative Action.

Rights - This will include Meaning and theories, Different kinds of rights, Rights, and Duties.

Democracy - This will include Classical and Contemporary, Participatory Democracy, Human Rights, and Globalization.


Indian Philosophy

  • Orthodox Schools.

  • Heterodox Schools.

  • Causation, Soul, Liberation.

  • Nature of Brahman.

  • Philosophical implications of Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, and Yoga Sutra.

  • Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva.

  • Philosophy of Religion.

Notions of God

The problem of Evil, Soul, Religious Experience, Religion without God, Secularism and Secularization, Religious Pluralism, and Philosophy of Mind.

  • Cartesian dualism, Behaviourism.

  • Identity theory, Mind-brain identity theory.

  • Eliminative materialism, Functionalism.

  • Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness.

  • Mental Causation, Self and Personal Identity, Theories of Perception & Knowledge, and Skepticism.

Strategy to Understand Philosophy Optional Subject for UPSC

You need to follow these 10 strategies for understanding Philosophy optional subject for UPSC −

  • Start with The Basics: Philosophy is a complex subject, so it's essential to start with the basics.

  • Read The Syllabus Carefully: Make sure you understand the syllabus, what topics are covered, and the weightage assigned to each topic.

  • Get Familiar with The Philosophers: Read about the prominent philosophers, their key contributions, and their schools of thought.

  • Create A Study Plan: Develop a study plan that covers all the topics and gives equal time to each area. Ensure that you have enough time to revise and practice writing answers.

  • Read Widely: Read widely on the subject, including primary sources and secondary texts, to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and theories. Make notes of important ideas and arguments as you go along.

  • Use Your Critical Thinking Skills to Understand Concepts of the Subject: Philosophy requires critical thinking skills, which can be developed through reading, analyzing arguments, and engaging in debates.

  • Practice Writing: Practice writing essays, answer writing, and precis. Focus on clarity of thought and argumentation.

  • Attend Lectures and Seminars: Attend lectures and seminars on philosophy to gain different perspectives on the subject.

  • Engage in Discussions: Engage in discussions with fellow students, teachers, and experts in the field.

  • Revise Regularly: Regular revision is crucial for retaining information and reinforcing your understanding of the Philosophy.


Q1. Which optional subject has the most syllabus in UPSC?

Ans. The optional subject with the most syllabuses in UPSC is Law because the syllabus for Law covers a wide range of topics.

Q2. Which is the most scoring optional in UPSC?

Ans. Optional subjects such as Public Administration, Geography, and Sociology have traditionally had high success & score rates.

Q3. Which optional has the highest success rate?

Ans. Over the years, optional subjects such as Public Administration, Geography, Sociology, and Political Science have had a high success rate in UPSC exams.

Q4. Are there 2 optional subjects in UPSC?

Ans. No, UPSC allows only one optional subject for the Mains examination.

Q5. Is physics optional easy for UPSC?

Ans. Physics is a very technical and specialized subject, for engineers and candidates without a background in the subject may find it challenging to score well in it. Those who have a good command of physics can score very well in it compared to other Optional Subjects.

Q6. Is sociology a good optional for UPSC?

Ans. Sociology is a popular optional subject for UPSC because it has straightforward concepts and is relatively easier to understand, and candidates who can apply sociological concepts to real-life situations may find it advantageous in the exam.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023

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