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UPSC Law Optional Subject- Should You take it? (Pros and Cons)

Updated: Dec 21, 2019


law as optional in Upsc civil service have been much in debate. Law optional pro and cons as a optional subject in upsc exam have multiple advantages and disadvantages. So let's dive in and try to understand what's it pros and cons.


This Article analyses the suitability of 'law' as a subject for optional in Civil services Mains Examination. It also answers the related question such as.


1. How is the Law Optional Subject in UPSC.

2. Is Law Optional Scoring ?

3. I am Law Graduate, Should I take Law Optional?

4. I am non Law graduate will I be able to Score Good Marks?


And other similar questions that arises in candidates mind from time to time. It creates lot of fear and candidate choose wrong optional hence they suffer in qualifying UPSC mains Examination. This article Attempts to answer all such questions and give a clear picture regarding subject so that student can make informed decision as to take or not take law optional subject in their UPSC Civil Service Attempt.


Generally Speaking there are two type of candidate who will opt for law optional in UPSC, i.e Law Graduate and Non Law Graduate


Lets analyses suitability for this subject for above two category of candidates as their requirement and expectation vary a lot from the subject. they have different set of questions in their mind. 

It will seer stupidity for law graduates if he/she do not take this subject as a optional for UPSC Mains exam. The reason for saying such a harsh thing is this. they have to study half of what they must have studied in their law college.  

1. Smaller Size of Syllabus


  • The syllabus of all other optional is more than what student study in their graduation course. In law it is not the case at all. It do not Include Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Civil Procedure Code(CPC) and Evidence Act, which generally student dread and find it tough to decipher.

  • It is a good news for student as most of above referred laws are not there. They are considered one of the most vast and goes into very nitty gritty on rules and regulations on which courts functions. In judicial services exam these laws are 50 percent of the syllabus. That is why having a law background is not necessary at all.

  • if you read smartly and follow right strategy the whole syllabus can be covered from end to end in 4.5 month sharp. It require no further study. All together there are 7 laws you have to study which covers 70 percent of the questions in exam. You will attempt those Seventy percent questions right away. The laws are Constitutional, Administrative law, International Law, Law of Crime, Low of Tort, Law Of contract and Special Contract laws.


2. It is Very Scoring optional, Can easily get 300 Marks.


  • This optional is far better than More popular one such asGeo, Socio Etc. I say so on two ground. One is the pass percentage of people taking law optional and people actually getting selected is very high. People Dont take Law optional as they are fed it is very tough and only law student can do it. You get very less marks etc. Well UPSC report concludes its wrong.

Law optional upsc

  • It have been one of top optional consistently in optional subject in upsc. You can read an analysis done by Mudit Jain IPS 2015 Batch on Quora (link) . I will be writing a detailed blog on what is the success ratio of the law optional in upsc.

  • From Quora blog of Mudit above you can see it have been top three with highest passing percentage. It is not relevant how much people give the exam. may be number is high for pub ad or other subject but passing percentage of law is much better.



3. OverLap With other Common GS PAPER in UPSC CSE Mains


At least three section of compulsory paper in Civil service have common with law optional. Those three parts are:- GS paper-2, Let us take UPSC exam of 2019 (Current Year). In GS paper-2, GS paper- 3 and Essay. Almost 40 percent of compulsory paper can be studied along law optional only. So taking alw optional automatically gives you an edge. Lets See extent of overlapping in these three paper.


For sake of privity I must say it true for other optional subject as well like public administration, Geography, History etc. I have written a detailed article regarding that on this website. do read that.

  • Overlapping between Law optional and GS paper - 2


Almost every topic related to constitution you will study in more depth in law optional, the governance part is more of less is covered in administrative law ehre constitutional governance is a topic itself in law optional paper-I.

Lets take the example of latest gs paper -2 of (2019) There was at least three question which could have been only be answered in a better way by a law optional student, Namely,

Q.1 - Do you think that constitution of India does not accept principle of strict separation of powers rather it is based on the principle of ‘checks and balance’? Explain.(10)

Q.4 -From the resolution of contentious issues regarding distribution of legislative powers by the courts, ‘Principle of Federal Supremacy’ and ‘Harmonious Construction’ have emerged. Explain.(10)

Q.5 - What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism?(10)

Q.12 “Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is a limited power and it cannot be enlarged into absolute power.” In the light of this statement explain whether Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution can destroy the Basic Structure of the Constitution by expanding its amending power?(15)

Above Five Question just an example of how law optional student could have written it better. Like question number one is what you will study in administrative law. There have been previous questions on same doctrine in law as well. The Harmonious construction principle you can not find in laxmikant even you search it then as well. However the answer should not be law specific it has to be with reference to paper two. Slight modification and integration with law optional preparation you could easily get more marks.

  • Overlapping of law optional with GS paper-3(2019)


Topic related to environment and disaster management can be clubbed together with law optional. NDMA act can be studied to have a better picture of disaster management institutional arrangement. It is one of environmental laws of india.

Sustainable development topic of GS 3 can be read with international environmental law principle specifically Stockholm conference principle which covers all aspect of environment and development.

Similarly Intellectual property topic of law optional paper II can help you understand similar topic in GS paper-3.

International Economic organisation of law optional topic can be clubbed with economic institution of paper - 3. Like IMF, WTO and World Bank. Lets see example of question rom 2019 paper of Compulsory GS - 03 Paper.

Q.5 - How is the Government of India protecting traditional knowledge of medicine from patenting by pharmaceutical companies?  

Q.9 - Indian Government has recently strengthened the anti-terrorism laws by amending the unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 and the NIA act. Analyze the changes in the context of prevailing security environment while discussing the scope and reasons for opposing the UAPA by human rights organizations.

In both of above question law optional paper - 1 and 2 will help you a lot. Apart from this year there have been question on cyber law which also is there with law optional syllabus.

  • Overlap of law optional With Essay

Essay topic in last 5 year have been invariably related to law topics, SOme time directly Some Time Indirectly. Even on social issues essay topic you will have to write its constitutional or legal aspect in part, if not in totality. Lets see last years essay topic to understand the overlapping better.

Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy (2019 Essay) :- This topic can be studied under topic ''Trial by Media" in law optional paper - 2.

Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India (2017) : - This essay topic can be clubbed with trade and economic relation related provision in constitution between union and states.


Still not convinced do check Aditya Tiwari sir teaching first class on youtube. Search ''Aditya Tiwari law optional'' on youtube and check out the video.

Ask Question Directly from Aditya Tiwari sir on Quora at (Link)

For Video Lecture of Law optional By Aditya Tiwari Sir, Subscribe at (Link)

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