UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV Syllabus & Structure

The UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination consists of 9 papers conducted over a period of 5 days. Out of these, the first two papers in IAS Exam-English and compulsory Indian language, are qualifying in nature. Candidates have to secure at least 25% marks in these two to be eligible for merit ranking, based on the rest of the UPSC Mains papers and the interview.

Check the table below to understand the scheme and subjects of IAS examination:


Pattern of IAS Exam

Preliminary Examination
  • General Studies
  • Aptitude Test
Mains Examination
  • Qualifying
    • 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

This article focuses on the structure of the General Studies Paper IV and the topics that it covers.

IAS Mains General Studies-IV

The General Studies Paper IV covers the following subjects:

  • Ethics
  • Integrity
  • Aptitude

Read Why Did UPSC Introduce the Ethics Paper in UPSC Mains Exam?

This paper tests the candidate’s approach to the issues of integrity and probity while dealing with public life. It also tests the candidate’s approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution.

This paper may have a slight overlap of topics with Governance and Social Justice Subjects from General Studies II in the Civil Service Examination mains papers but is largely independent of the syllabus of other GS papers.

Structure of UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-I for IAS

The following are the important features of the General Studies IV paper:

  1. The paper consists of twelve questions with these divided into two sections. Before 2018, there were fourteen questions, though now the complexity has been increased and the number of questions has been reduced.
  2. All the questions are compulsory.
  3. The questions are of 10 marks and 20 marks depending on the length of the answer required. The 10 marks questions need answers within 150 words while the 20 marks questions need answers within 250 words.
  4. The total marks allotted to this paper are 250 marks.
  5. The questions are of two types:
    • Direct concept related questions which test the candidate’s understanding of ethical issues and concepts related to integrity and aptitude (125 marks)
    • Case studies which test the candidate’s application of those concepts to situations involving the candidate and other stakeholders such as politicians, pressure groups, the public and other people (125 marks)
  6. This paper is the most variable of the four General Studies Papers and the nature of questions differ widely from year to year. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the syllabus, and the last few year’s patterns as well.

The key takeaway from this paper is that it tests the candidate’s honesty and integrity along with their problem solving and conflict resolution skills.

Candidates targeting UPSC 2020 may check the linked article to prepare well in advance and align their preparation accordingly.

Syllabus of UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV for IAS

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

Topics Subtopics
Ethics and Human Interface
  • The 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
  • Content, 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
  • Aptitude and foundational values of Civil Service
  • Integrity
  • Impartiality and non-partisanship
  • Objectivity
  • Dedication to public service
  • Empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections of the society
Emotional Intelligence
  • Concepts of emotional intelligence
  • Utility and application of emotional intelligence in administration and governance
Contributions of Thinkers and Philosophers
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world to the concepts of morality
Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration
  • Status 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 Governance
  • Concept 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
  • Challenges of corruption

After knowing the GS-IV syllabus for civil services examination, candidates must also know the UPSC GS-IV Strategy which they may check in the linked article.

This paper relies heavily on case studies which are the most scoring parts of the paper. The candidates should be able to analyse their own reactions to various situations and apply concepts dealt with in this paper on their actions and reactions to various situations while dealing with their social circle.

Link to Strategy for Mains GS4

For detailed analysis and insights on the Mains General Studies papers, you may also like to refer to articles given in the table below:

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