UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV Syllabus & Structure

UPSC Mains General Studies Paper IV (GS-IV) delves into the realms of Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. It constitutes one of the nine essential papers within the IAS Mains Examination. This article elucidates the strategy, structure, and syllabus of General Studies Paper IV, providing valuable insights for UPSC Civil Service Mains Examination aspirants, while adhering to the original length.

General Studies Paper IV encompasses the following core domains:

  1. Ethics
  2. Integrity
  3. Aptitude

This paper serves as an assessment of a candidate’s ability to navigate matters of integrity and probity within the realm of public life. Furthermore, it evaluates their problem-solving and conflict resolution capabilities.

While there may be some minor thematic overlaps with Governance and Social Justice subjects found in General Studies II of the Civil Service Examination Mains papers, General Studies Paper IV predominantly stands as an independent component of the overall GS paper syllabus.

Focus Areas in GS 4 Paper

S.NoEthics Topics
1.Ethics and Human Interface
2. Human Values
3. Attitude
4. Aptitude
5. Emotional Intelligence
6. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world
7. Public or Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration
8. Ethical issues in international relations and funding corporate governance
9.Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; information
10. Codes of ethics &  Citizen’s Charters

How to Approach GS 4 Paper

TopicTips to Prepare
Ethics and Human InterfaceAspirants should learn:
How you inculcate it
How you deal with society
How do you see whether the action is ethical or not and 
What are the principles that you follow to ensure that the action is ethical or not?
Human ValuesAspirants should focus on:
How do people acquire values and majority of people acquire values when they read about the personality of importance like freedom fighters
Consider a few books about 5-6 of great thinkers whom you admire, like or follow

UPSC may give some statement of any great personalities and would ask to discuss it by applying it to the present context.
UPSC does not want thinkers’ point of view but what it looks for is how much the candidate has analyzed, utilized and applied it to the current context.
AttitudeCandidates should focus on Attitude: 
Content, structure, function, its influence and relation with thought and behaviour for Part 2 of the question paper i.e. Case Study
The moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion would be for Part 1 of the Ethics Question Paper i.e. theory.

Note: Question may be asked either in Part 1 or Part 2 i.e. either in theory or case study
AptitudeImportant list of words that a candidate should embed in their answer in order to enhance their answer and score high:

Integrity: not compromising on anything if someone offers your bribe will you compromise
●  Impartiality: Don’t show nepotism either for political parties or common man
●  Nonpartisanship: no biases for different political parties
●  Objectivity: be neutral
●  Dedication to public service
●  Empathy
●  Tolerance
●  Compassion towards weaker section

Note: Candidates can refer to the ‘Ethics in Governance’ to cover this area as it gives a clear definition of the last five words or concepts including Nolan Committee Recommendations.
Emotional IntelligenceHere as an administrator, one has to follow the three procedures of Emotional Intelligence and they are:

●  Understand your emotions and control them
●  Understand others emotion and control them
●  Then, act according to solve the issue genuinely and effectively

Note: Questions may be asked in both Part 1 and Part 2
Ethical issues in international relations Candidates can take the example of Nepal Earthquake video how funding aided or any current similar such scenarios

Note: Questions may be asked Part 2 i.e. case study
Sharing and transparency in government, Right to information, codes of ethics, codes of conductCandidates can refer to CCS, 1964 – The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which is of 300-400 pages
Citizen’s Charters, Work Culture, Quality of Service delivery, utilization of public funds, challenges of corruptionUPSC may ask direct questions on Citizen’s Charter
Candidates should be aware of how to frame a Citizen’s Charter and the rules and regulations that should be followed before framing a citizen charter
Questions in Case Study may also be expected

Let’s take a concise look at the approach to preparing for the Ethics paper:

  1. Build Conceptual Clarity: Ensure a deep understanding of the syllabus topics.
  2. Explore Relevant Resources: Study materials such as the Code of Conduct, citizen’s charter, RTI, and Probity in governance reports.
  3. Dive into Ethics Literature: Read pertinent reports and consider Ramesh K. Arora’s book “Ethics in Governance.”
  4. Learn from Past Papers: Analyze previous year question papers to grasp question patterns and trends.
  5. Practice Decision-Making: Tackle CSAT decision-making questions to enhance your decision-making abilities.
  6. Apply Keywords: Identify key terms from the syllabus and incorporate them effectively into your writing.
  7. Embrace Thinkers’ Wisdom: Utilize quotes from influential thinkers to address current issues.
  8. Master One Book: Focus on a single book and revisit it multiple times, prioritizing depth over breadth in your studies.

Ethics Books for UPSC:

S.NoEthics Books for UPSC
1.Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude – G Subba Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury
2.Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies Paper IV – Niraj Kumar
3.Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – Santosh Ajmera & Nanda Kishore Reddy
4.Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude – M Karthikeyan
5.Ethics in Governance: Innovations, Issues and Instrumentalities – Ramesh K Arora
6.ARC Reports

GS-IV Structure

Here are the important features of UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV – Structure/ General Studies IV paper, with the length remaining the same:

  1. Question Count: The paper comprises twelve questions, divided into two sections. Previously, before 2018, there were fourteen questions, but the complexity has since increased, and the number of questions reduced.
  2. Mandatory Questions: All questions in this paper are compulsory.
  3. Marks Allocation: Questions are either 10 marks or 20 marks, depending on the answer’s required length. Responses to 10-mark questions must be within 150 words, while 20-mark questions necessitate answers within 250 words.
  4. Total Marks: The paper is allotted a total of 250 marks.
  5. Question Types:
    • Direct Conceptual Questions (125 marks): These assess a candidate’s comprehension of ethical issues, integrity-related concepts, and aptitude.
    • Case Studies (125 marks): These evaluate a candidate’s ability to apply these concepts to real-world scenarios involving various stakeholders, including politicians, pressure groups, the public, and others.
  6. Variable Nature: This paper exhibits the most variation among the four General Studies Papers, with questions varying widely from year to year. Aspirants should acquaint themselves with the syllabus and recent question patterns.

The following is the detailed Syllabus for General Studies IV Paper in the UPSC Mains Examination:

Ethics and Human InterfaceThe Essence of Ethics, Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in Human Interaction
Dimensions of Ethics
Ethics in private and public relationships
Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators
Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating moral and ethical values
AttitudeContent, structure and function of attitude
Influence of attitude in thought and behaviour
Relation of attitude to thought and behaviour
Moral and Political attitudes
Social influence and persuasion
AptitudeAptitude and foundational values of Civil Service
Impartiality and non-partisanship
Dedication to public service
Empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker sections of the society
Emotional IntelligenceConcepts of emotional intelligence
Utility and application of emotional intelligence in administration and governance
Contributions of Thinkers and PhilosophersContributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world to the concepts of morality
Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public AdministrationStatus and associated problems
Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions
Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance
Accountability and ethical governance
Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance
Ethical Issues in international relations and funding
Corporate governance
Probity in GovernanceConcept of public service
The philosophical basis of governance and probity
Information sharing and transparency in government
Right to Information
Codes of ethics
Codes of Conduct
Citizen’s Charters
Work culture
Quality of service delivery
Utilization of public funds

Mains GS IV Trend Analysis

Basics and thinkers604060
Family and society104060
Work and office2000
Public organisation305010
Private organisation1900
Case Studies120120120

IAS Exam Pattern

UPSC IAS ExamPattern of IAS Exam
Preliminary ExaminationGeneral Studies
Aptitude Test
Mains ExaminationQualifying:
Paper-A (One of the 22 Indian Languages)
Paper-B (English)
Papers to be counted for merit:
Paper-I (Essay)
Paper-II (GS-I)
Paper-III (GS-II)
Paper-IV (GS-III)
Paper-V (GS-IV)
Paper-VI (Optional Paper-I)
Paper-VI (Optional Paper-II)
Personality Test

The UPSC IAS Exam witnessed significant structural modifications in 2013, with minor adjustments occurring in 2015 and 2016. The alterations pertaining to General Studies are as follows:

  • 2013: The number of General Studies papers increased from 2 to 4.
  • 2015: CSAT marks ceased to contribute to the merit list, with only General Studies papers, essays, and optional papers considered for merit ranking, while CSAT became a qualifying paper.
  • 2016: The marks distribution for General Studies Papers shifted to a two-tier system, departing from the earlier uniform marks allocation for all questions.

Given the recent trend of in-depth analysis of UPSC papers, it is imperative to thoroughly comprehend the topics covered in General Studies Paper-II. Additionally, reviewing previous years’ UPSC questions and answers can enhance your ability to respond effectively and efficiently.

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