International Relations (IR) is an optional subject that allows the students to investigate and understand the relationships among states and other regional and international actors. Therefore, it requires a different technique to prepare for the CSS exam. The syllabus of IR paper-1 and paper-2 is different from each other. It would be wrong approach to prepare IR paper-2 first because IR paper-1 makes the conceptual and theoretical foundations of students to better understand IR paper-2. One cannot understand the events and dynamics of the course without mastering paper-1. Actually, IR paper-1 composed of concepts, basic principles and theories. If we see the syllabus of IR papers provided by FPSC, it includes topics such as Introduction to IR, Nation-state System, Nationalism, theories etc. If any CSS aspirant wants to prepare this subject according to the sequence of the syllabus and also have an interest in current affairs, he or she should join a subject specialist instead of a coaching academy. Because usually in academies multiple subjects are taught in one go and a student attends only two lectures of IR in a week so he cannot pay much attention while IR needs proper time and focused study.
We recommend everyone to prepare the basic concepts and principles of IR-1 first, then prepare the theories before switching to IR paper-2. If the examiner asks you to explain foreign policy, you have to explain the answer in the flow like which decision-making model is applied in Pakistan and what is a civil-military influence in foreign policy making and how India centred approach and US centered approach is affecting the foreign policy of Pakistan. This is called scientific analysis of foreign policy which is required in IR. And only those students can explain these topics who prepare the course in an appropriate way.
The main theories of IR iincludes Idealism, Liberalism, Realism and their offshoots. If we talk about “Neo”, in the technical language of IR, it means a modified version or the extension of the available version of a theory. To understand basic terms of IR, ‘International Relations, the Key Concepts’ published by Routledge is a highly recommended book.
We must say that you cannot cover the entire course from one book. If you go to any mentor he or she won’t suggest you only one book for IR as its impossible because its syllabus is diverse. For example, if we talk about a book such as globalization of world politics by John Baylis, your mentor should guide you for which topic and page is important from this book. The foreign authors’ books include charts, diagrams, colour pages and definitions; you cannot prepare your subject if your mentor will not guide you about important material.
Furthermore, you don’t need to read all the books completely, except the history portion. Be a gold-miner and extract only relevant topics according to the syllabus in order to clear your concepts. You can cover the whole syllabus from 3 books along with some additional material such as articles from newspapers and magazines. In fact, IR will also help you in preparing current affairs subjects.