How to prepare Law subject for UPSC 2018

In this article we will guide you how to prepare Law subject which includes –International Law, Constitutional Law and Administrative Law.

International Law:-

International Law is a part of the Section B of the Law optional paper 1 of the UPSC Mains exam. You have to compulsorily answer one question out of four questions.

You can follow the following books for reference

  1. International Law by Malcolm N. Shaw
  2. International Law & Human Rights by S K Kapoor

You should only read the topics which are relevant for UPSC and don’t study the full books for this particular section.

There is repetition of certain topics in general studies for the topic of international law. Some of these repetitive topics are protection of human environment, international economic institutions, United Nations and non- proliferation.

The following are the important topics in international law:-

  1. Relationship between international law and municipal law-direct questions
  2. Nature and definition of international law, sources of international law, basis, subjects of international law, sanctions.
  3. State recognition and state succession, difference between de facto and de jure recognition, theories of recognition of state and recognition of government, difference between types of State succession and implications of non-recognition. Law of the sea, inland waters, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, high seas territorial sea;-prepare these topics for practical questions.
  4. Transit passage and freedom of high sea-short notes.
  5. International terrorism, hijacking, state-sponsored terrorism, international criminal court-important topics for general studies paper
  6. Seminal judgments of ICJ like North Sea Continental Shelf case, the Maritime Zones Act, 1976, comparison of UNCLOS 1958 and 1982.
  7. Jus cogens, rebus sic stantibus, principle of pacta sant servanda and reservation in treaty.-important topics for treaties.
  8. Nationality, human rights and procedures for their enforcement, statelessness, role of UN in promoting human rights, ICJ’s judgment on Nottebohm case.-gany type of questions.
  9. lawful use of force and conditions under which it is justified, legality of the use of nuclear weapons, Different modes of peaceful settlement of disputes, ban on testing of nuclear weapons, NPT, CTBT.
  10. From the UN section- compulsory jurisdiction of ICJ, veto system and provisions of UN charter for peace keeping.
  11. Territorial jurisdiction of states, extradition and asylum, the difference between territorial and extra-territorial asylum, territorial jurisdiction on high seas and warships, and concept of opposability, extradition and diplomatic immunity.-theotical questions.


The following are the tips how to study Constitutional  and Administrative Law:-

Constitutional and Administrative Law section is an important part of law optional in the mains exam of IAS. The best way to prepare this paper is to first go through the previous question papers and get an idea about the pattern of questions asked IAS mains questions papers. If you view the optional previous years question papers then you see that the questions asked are repeated and probable ones.

Constitutional and Administrative Law has four questions from which only one question is compulsory which has to be answered from Section A of Paper I in Law Optional.

The question from the constitutional law is important than the administrative law as the latter portion comprises of less marks.

The following are the tips to prepare Constitutional Law:-

  1. You should follow the book ‘Indian Polity’ by M Laxmikanth, if you don’t have a law background and you should also have a clear idea about the different articles and the constitution.
  2. Relationship between fundamental rights, duties and directive principles.
  3. Appointments, transfers, powers, functions and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts, Doctrine of pleasure, Constitutional amendment, Legislative powers, privileges and immunities.
  4. Distribution of legislative powers between the centre and the states, local bodies, administrative relationship between these three, scheme of distribution of legislative powers.
  5. ‘Indian Constitutional Law’ by M. P. Jain-UPSC topics only.
  6. Read the cases related to the fundamental rights and constitutional law. Also read the ‘The Hindu’ and ‘The Indian Express’ to have a clear picture about this topic.
  7. Emergency provisions (especially articles 352 and 356), judicial review of the imposition of state emergency.
  8. Relation with the Council of Ministers, Constitutional position of the President, discretionary power, pardon power, etc are also important topics and also read these topics for Governors.


The following are the tips to prepare Administrative Law

  1. Delegated legislation and its constitutionality.
  2. Principles of natural justice.
  3. Judicial review of administrative action.
  4. Separation of powers and constitutional governance.
  5. Recommended book for this section: Administrative Law by I. P. Massey
  6. Ombudsman – Lokayukta, Lokpal.


We hope that this article will be helpful for preparing Law, if you have any questions related to this article then drop your questions or views in the comments box below.

Good Luck!