UPSC » UPSC Mains GS 4 Syllabus, Books and Preparation Tips

UPSC Mains GS 4 Syllabus, Books and Preparation Tips

The UPSC Mains General Studies Paper IV (GS-IV) focuses on Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude. It is a crucial component of the IAS Exam’s Mains Examination. This article provides insights into the strategy, structure, and syllabus of UPSC GS-IV, enabling candidates to effectively prepare for the UPSC Civil Service Mains Examination.

The official notification for the UPSC CSE has been released on 1st February 2023. This annual examination is conducted for recruitment to various civil services posts in the government. The last day to apply for the examination was 21st February 2023. This article contains information on the GS 4 Syllabus, the reference books, the preparation strategy, and other relevant details.

GS 4 Syllabus

The detailed GS 4 Syllabus is mentioned below:        

Ethics and Human Interface      

  • The Essence of Ethics
  • Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in Human Interaction
  • Dimensions of Ethics
  • Ethics in public and private relationships
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers, and administrators
  • Role of society, family, and educational institutions in inculcating ethical and moral values


  • Content, structure, and function of attitude
  • Influence of attitude in thought and behaviour
  • Relation of attitude to thought and behaviour
  • Political and moral attitudes
  • Social influence and persuasion


  • Aptitude and foundational values of Civil Service
  • Integrity
  • Impartiality and non-partisanship
  • Objectivity
  • Dedication to public service
  • Empathy, compassion, and tolerance towards the weaker sections of the society

Emotional Intelligence     

  • Concepts of emotional intelligence
  • Utility and application of emotional intelligence in governance and administration

Contributions of Thinkers and Philosophers 

  • Contributions of philosophers and moral thinkers 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     

  • Challenges of corruption
  • Citizen’s Charters
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Codes of ethics

Concept of public service

  • Information sharing and transparency in government
  • Quality of service delivery
  • Right to Information
  • The philosophical basis of governance and probity
  • Utilization of public funds
  • Work culture

Important Topics from UPSC Ethics Syllabus


The important topics are:

  • Emotion: Importance, Mechanism, and Types
  • Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Its Importance
  • Contribution of Family to Value Education
  • Persuasion Tactics and Tools of Persuasion
  • Dimensions and Essence of Ethics
  • “Code of Ethics” and “Code of Conduct”
  • Alcoholism In India
  • Approaches of Ethical Study: Indian Perspective and Western Perspective
  • Code of Ethics
  • Consequences Of Ethical Human Actions
  • Constitutional Morality – Meaning, Significance, and Scope
  • Contribution Of Family and Society in Inculcating Values
  • Contribution to Society through Civil Services
  • Define Ethos
  • Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in Human Relations
  • Distinguish Between Laws and Rules
  • Ethical Dilemmas in Public and Private Institutions
  • Ethical Issues
  • Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding
  • Ethical Values Faced by Day-to-Day Functioning
  • Ethics In Economic Life
  • Ethics in Economic Sanctions
  • Ethics in Private Relationships
  • Ethics is Knowing the Difference Between What You Have the Right to Do and What is Right to Do
  • Ethics vs Morality
  • Group Influences
  • Human Values and Socialization
  • Impact Of Beliefs and Values On Attitude
  • Impartiality and Non-Partisanship
  • Importance of Vigilant Citizens
  • Integrity: Importance and Challenges
  • Normative Ethics with Examples
  • Overview Of Crisis Of Conscience
  • Peer Pressure
  • Political Attitude and its Impact on Society
  • Principles Followed by Civil Servants in Public Interest
  • Relation of Attitude to Thought and Behavior
  • Relation of Educational Institutions with Inculcating Value
  • Relationship Between Freedom And Discipline
  • Role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its Funding
  • Schools of Indian Philosophy
  • Self-Actualization
  • Social and Ethical Perspective
  • Social Influence and Persuasion
  • Steps to Control Corruption
  • Ten Essential Values Needed to be an Effective Public Servant
  • Three Basic Values Universal in Nature
  • Tolerance and Compassion for the Weaker Section
  • Types of Bureaucracy
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Ways to Develop Emotional Intelligence Among Civil Servants

Structure of GS Paper 4 for UPSC Mains

The structure of GS paper 4 is mentioned below: 

  • Paper is divided into 2 sections containing 12 questions 
  • Answering all questions is compulsory
  • There are 2 types of questions to be answered – the direct concept questions and case studies
  • Total marks are 250
  • The questions are divided into 10 Marks and 20 marks
  • The 10-mark questions should be answered within 150 words whereas the 20-mark questions should be answered within 250 words
  • The nature of the questions in this paper differs from year to year

How to Prepare Ethics Syllabus for UPSC?

With the help of the following tips, one can prepare well for the UPSC Ethics examination. 

  • Make a schedule for your preparation
  • Calculate the number of months/days left for your examination and allot time for each paper and sections
  • Be clear about the concept of topics
  • Go through the books mentioned in this article
  • Identify the keywords and start using them when answering the questions
  • Once you finish the syllabus start revising. Make revision a daily routine
  • Try solving the previous years’ question papers and sample papers

Best Books to Cover Ethics Syllabus UPSC

The best books to prepare for the ethics syllabus are mentioned below:

BooksAuthor/ Publication
Ethics, Integrity & AptitudeG Subba Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury
Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies Paper IVNiraj Kumar
Ethics, Integrity, and AptitudeSantosh Ajmera & Nanda Kishore Reddy
Ethics, Integrity, and AptitudeM Karthikeyan
Ethics in Governance: Innovations, Issues, and InstrumentalitiesRamesh K Arora
ARC Reports

Case Studies from UPSC Ethics Syllabus

Under this section, the Examiner is expected to answer questions based on a given case study. The answers should be reasonable and ethical. The answers are based on one’s own experiences and reasoning. Your answer should be reasonably and ethically morally right. Use your personal insight, experience, and understanding to answer questions in this in this section. 

Some of the important topics/issues are:

  • Conflict of interest
  • Corruption
  • Current Affairs Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Ethical Dilemmas
  • Gender Issues
  • Human Development factors.
  • Mal-governance


UPSC is expected to conduct the main examination starting on 15th September 2023. There is ample time to prepare for the exam. Go through the syllabus. Get hold of the relevant books and start preparing. A well-planned study schedule, diligence, and hard work will help you get through.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to Ethics Syllabus UPSC 2024.

What is the structure of the GS 4 paper?

Answer: The structure is mentioned below:  ...Read full

What is the last day to register for the UPSC CSE?

Answer: The registration for the UPSC CSE will end on 21st February 2023....Read full

How many papers are in the UPSC Mains?

Answer: Nine papers comprise the UPSC Mains Exam, four General Studies, two op...Read full

What are the sub-topics under probity in governance?

Answer: The sub-topics are ...Read full

Is picking a degree topic for the UPSC necessary?

Answer: One of the most difficult exams in the nation is the UPSC civil services examination. And as a result, many ...Read full

What are the topics covered in the UPSC ethics syllabus?

Answer: The ethics paper covers a wide range of topics, including ethics and human interface, attitude, emotional intelligence, contributions of mo...Read full

Is ethics a separate paper, or is it integrated into other GS (General Studies) papers?

Answer: Ethics is a distinct paper, known as Paper IV. It is dedicated to the study of ethical and moral concepts.

Is ethics paper scoring compared to other GS papers?

Answer: The scoring in the ethics paper is similar to other GS papers. Success in the ethics paper requires a well-structured and comprehensive und...Read full

How can I improve my answer writing skills for the ethics paper?

Answer: Answer writing practice is crucial. You can review previous year question papers and model answers to understand the expected style of resp...Read full