how long are phd vivas

  • PhD Viva Voces – A Complete Guide
  • Doing a PhD
  • A PhD viva involves defending your thesis in an oral examination with at least two examiners.
  • The aim of a PhD viva is to confirm that the work is your own , that you have a deep understanding of your project and, overall, that you are a competent researcher .
  • There are no standard durations, but they usually range from one to three hours, with most lasting approximately two hours .
  • There are six outcomes of a PhD viva: (1) pass without corrections (2) pass subject to minor corrections, (3) pass subject to major corrections, (4) downgrade to MPhil with no amendments, (5) downgrade to MPhil subject to amendments, (6) immediate fail.
  • Almost all students who sit their viva pass it, with the most common outcome being ‘(2) – pass subject to minor corrections’.

What Is a PhD Viva?

A viva voce , more commonly referred to as ‘viva’, is an oral examination conducted at the end of your PhD and is essentially the final hurdle on the path to a doctorate. It is the period in which a student’s knowledge and work are evaluated by independent examiners.

In order to assess the student and their work around their research question, a viva sets out to determine:

  • you understand the ideas and theories that you have put forward,
  • you can answer questions about elements of your work that the examiners have questions about,
  • you understand the broader research in your field and how your work contributes to this,
  • you are aware of the limitations of your work and understand how it can be developed further,
  • your work makes an original contribution, is your own and has not been plagiarised.

Note: A viva is a compulsory procedure for all PhD students, with the only exception being when a PhD is obtained through publication as opposed to the conventional route of study.

Who Will Attend a Viva?

In the UK, at least two examiners must take part in all vivas. Although you could have more than two examiners, most will not in an attempt to facilitate a smoother questioning process.

One of the two examiners will be internal, i.e. from your university, and the other will be external, i.e. from another university. Regardless, both will be knowledgeable in your research field and have read your thesis beforehand.

In addition to your two examiners, two other people may be present. The first is a chairperson. This is an individual who will be responsible for monitoring the interview and for ensuring proper conduct is followed at all times. The need for an external chairperson will vary between universities, as one of the examiners can also take on this role. The second is your supervisor, whose attendance is decided upon by you in agreement with your examiners. If your supervisor attends, they are prohibited from asking questions or from influencing the outcome of the viva.

To avoid any misunderstandings, we have summarised the above in a table:

Note: In some countries, such as in the United States, a viva is known as a ‘PhD defense’ and is performed publicly in front of a panel or board of examiners and an open audience. In these situations, the student presents their work in the form of a lecture and then faces questions from the examiners and audience which almost acts as a critical appraisal.

How Long Does a Viva Last?

Since all universities have different guidelines , and since all PhDs are unique, there are no standard durations. Typically, however, the duration ranges from one to three hours, with most lasting approximately two hours.

Your examiners will also influence the duration of your viva as some will favour a lengthy discussion, while others may not. Usually, your university will consult your examiners in advance and notify you of the likely duration closer to the day of your viva.

What Happens During a Viva?

Regardless of the subject area, all PhD vivas follow the same examination process format as below.

Introductions

You will introduce yourselves to each other, with the internal examiner normally introducing the external examiner. If an external chairperson is present, they too are introduced; otherwise, this role will be assumed by one of the examiners.

Procedure Explained

After the introductions, the appointed chair will explain the viva process. Although it should already be known to everyone, it will be repeated to ensure the viva remains on track during the forthcoming discussion.

Warm-Up Questions

The examiners will then begin the questioning process. This usually starts with a few simple opening questions, such as asking you to summarise your PhD thesis and what motivated you to carry out the research project.

In-Depth Questions

The viva questions will then naturally increase in difficulty as the examiners go further into the details of your thesis. These may include questions such as “What was the most critical decision you made when determining your research methodology ?”, “Do your findings agree with the current published work?” and “How do your findings impact existing theories or literature? ”. In addition to asking open-ended questions, they will also ask specific questions about the methodology, results and analysis on which your thesis is based.

Closing the Viva

Once the examiners are satisfied that they have thoroughly evaluated your knowledge and thesis, they will invite you to ask any questions you may have, and then bring the oral examination to a close.

What Happens After the Viva?

Once your viva has officially ended, your examiners will ask you to leave the room so that they can discuss your performance. Once a mutual agreement has been reached, which can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, you will be invited back inside and informed of your outcome.

PhD Viva Outcomes

There are six possible outcomes to a viva:

  • Immediate award of degree: A rare recommendation – congratulations, you are one of the few people who completely satisfied your examiners the first time around. You do not have to do anything further at this point.
  • Minor amendments required: The most common recommendation – you obtain a pass on the condition that you make a number of minor amendments to your thesis, such as clarifying certain points and correcting grammatical errors. The time you have to make these changes depends on the number of them, but is usually one to six months.
  • Major amendments required: A somewhat uncommon recommendation – you are requested to make major amendments to your thesis, ranging from further research to collecting more data or rewriting entire sections. Again, the time you have to complete this will depend on the number of changes required, but will usually be six months to one year. You will be awarded your degree once your amended thesis has been reviewed and accepted.
  • Immediate award of MPhil: An uncommon recommendation – your examiners believe your thesis does not meet the standard for a doctoral degree but meets the standard for an MPhil (Master of Philosophy), a lower Master’s degree.
  • Amendments required for MPhil: A rare recommendation – your examiners believe your thesis does not meet the standard for a doctoral degree, but with several amendments will meet the standard for an MPhil.
  • Immediate fail: A very rare recommendation – you are given an immediate fail without the ability to resubmit and without entitlement to an MPhil.

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What Is the Pass Rate for Vivas?

Based on an  analysis of 26,076 PhD students  who took their viva exam between 2006 and 2017, the PhD viva pass rate in the UK is 96%; of those who passed, about 80% were required to make minor amendments to their thesis. The reason for this high pass rate is that supervisors will only put their students forward for a viva once they confidently believe they are ready for it. As a result, most candidates who sit a viva are already well-versed in their PhD topic before they even start preparing for the exam.

How Do I Arrange a Viva?

Your viva will be arranged either by the examiners or by the chairperson. The viva will be arranged at least one to two months after you have submitted your thesis and will arrange a viva date and venue that is suitable for all participants.

Can I Choose My Examiners?

At most universities, you and your supervisor will choose the internal and external examiners yourselves. This is because the examiners must have extensive knowledge of the thesis topic in order to be able to examine you and, as the author of the thesis in question, who else could better determine who they might be than you and your supervisor. The internal examiner is usually quite easy to find given they will be from your institution, but the external examiner may end up being your second or third preference depending on availability.

Can I Take Notes Into a Viva?

A viva is about testing your competence, not your memory. As such, you are allowed to take notes and other supporting material in with you. However, keep in mind that your examiners will not be overly impressed if you constantly have to refer to your notes to answer each question. Because of this, many students prefer to take an annotated copy of their thesis, with important points already highlighted and key chapters marked with post-it notes.

In addition to an annotated copy of a thesis, some students also take:

  • a list of questions they would like to ask the examiners,
  • notes that were created during their preparation,
  • a list of minor corrections they have already identified from their viva prep work.

How Do I Prepare for a PhD Viva?

There are several ways to prepare for a PhD viva, one of the most effective being a mock viva voce examination . This allows you to familiarise yourself with the type of viva questions you will be asked and identify any weak areas you need to improve. They also give you the opportunity to practise without the pressure, giving you more time to think about your answers which will help to make sure that you know your thesis inside out. However, a mock viva exam is just one of many methods available to you – some of the other viva preparation methods can be found on our “ How to Prepare for a PhD Viva ” page.

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How to prepare for a phd viva.

Preparing for your PhD viva can be a daunting task. You'll want to ensure that you are ready to defend your thesis successfully.

To help, we've rounded up some useful tips on what to expect during your viva experience, how you can fully prepare for the process and what to expect after viva is done.

What is a PhD viva?

PhD Viva Interview

For the majority of PhD students, finishing the dissertation is a seminal moment. After all, knowing that such a long project has come to an end may seem almost surreal.

However, a hard copy of the dissertation is not the end of the PhD experience , each dissertation will have to be orally ‘defended’ in an examination called a viva, which usually takes between one and two hours to complete.

A PhD is an oral examination in the form of a discussion in which PhD students present their PhD thesis and defend their research methods and outcomes to a panel of academic experts.

The word ’viva’ is a shortened form of the Latin term ‘viva voce’ which means ‘live voice’.

How to prepare for a PhD viva

A key way to ensure success in your PhD viva is to make sure you are properly prepared – this can be done in four simple ways:

1. Know your research project inside out.

2. Find out about your viva examiners if you can. If you know about their areas of expertise, you may be able to anticipate their lines of questioning and even work out what they’d like to hear more about.

3. Compile a list of possible questions and practice your explanation/defence of methods used and outcomes discovered.

4. Prepare properly for the actual day by planning your journey to the PhD viva, knowing what you’re going to wear and compiling all the documentation that you need to have with you.

How to prepare ahead of your PhD viva – 5 steps to success

After you hand in your thesis/dissertation, you will usually have a few free weeks before undertaking the PhD viva. It is important that you prepare well during this period and walk out of your examination with at least a “pass mark subject to minor corrections”.

We have compiled a list of some of the most important PhD viva preparation steps to help you succeed in your viva.

STEP 1 – Take a break

After you have submitted your thesis, it is good to take a one or two week break and avoid thinking about your work. This will allow you to see your thesis from a third-person perspective and to understand your own shortcomings more clearly when you read it once again.

STEP 2 ­– Get to know your thesis

Read each section carefully and summarise its main points. You need to know how to explain and justify the main aspects of your thesis including the research question, methodology and data analysis. Writing any thoughts that come to your mind while reading the thesis as comments will help you to establish a "personal connection" with the thesis and understand it in greater depth.

STEP 3 – Critically examine your thesis

The crucial step of preparation is to lose any "compassion" towards your own work and criticise any weak points that you find in your thesis. It is very likely that your examiners will focus on some of these points in your viva, and you need to find out how to justify them.

STEP 4 – Learn how to defend your thesis!

Write a list of possible critical questions regarding your research and learn how to answer them convincingly. Try to think of yourself as a lawyer and of your thesis as the defendant whom you need to defend!

STEP 5 – Arrange a mock viva with your supervisor around 1-2 weeks before the actual viva

This will help you determine whether your preparation has been complete or there are still some aspects to be prepared before you can successfully defend your thesis. And don't forget to do something enjoyable and relax on the day before your actual viva!

PhD viva tips

We have compiled some of the most useful PhD viva tips to help you understand what is awaiting you if you ever decide to become a PhD student or if you already are one.

Who will be at a PhD viva?

A viva is attended by the PhD student and at least two academic experts.

In some universities, in addition to the student and the two examiners, there may be a senior member of academic staff present to act as chair of the examination. Your supervisor may also be present, although some universities do not allow this.

If there is a chair or your supervisor present at your PhD viva, they are not allowed to ask you questions or to take part in any of the discussion about the outcome.

PhD Viva Interview

What questions are asked at a PhD viva?

The examiners will usually start by trying to make you feel comfortable, perhaps by welcoming you and having some polite ‘social’ conversation to start with, for they will understand that you are nervous.

They will soon move on to the range of questions they have planned. These questions could cover anything about the thesis. They might ask you about the methods you have used, the results and findings or the conclusions you have drawn.

They may ask very detailed questions, or they may ask about the overall methods or findings. They will certainly want to explore any areas they feel you have not explained clearly enough or in enough detail in your thesis.

You may be asked to justify some of the conclusions you have made and to show exactly how your data has led you to draw those conclusions. In the area of methodology, you may be asked to justify your choice of the overall method you used, as well as explaining the decisions you made about the detailed methods you chose.

You may also be asked to show how well you know the range of literature and previous research in your field and how your findings add to the literature. In most vivas you will be asked to explain carefully what you believe to be your distinctive ‘contribution to knowledge’ from your research.

What will the PhD examiners want to know?

Understanding what PhD examiners might ask during your viva and having your answers is one way to prepare for success.

How do you justify the critical aspects of your work?

No dissertation is perfect and there will be some aspects of your PhD research that your examiners will be specifically critical about. Thus, it will be important for them to ask you some of the questions regarding these 'critical' aspects of your work to see if you can justify them. These questions will probably be decisive in determining the outcome of your viva.

Can you elaborate on specific sections of your research?

Besides focusing on some 'critical' aspects of your work, the examiners may ask you to give some more elaborate explanations of specific sections of your thesis or specific techniques used in your research. This will help them determine whether you really understand your own work and can think critically about your research.

How does your research contribute to your field of study?

Last, but not least, your examiners will be interested in how well you understand the place of your work within your field of research , and they will ask you to explain the overall contribution of your research to your discipline. As an aspiring student, you will always need to see the big picture and understand how your ideas can shape your academic field.

PhD viva – an academic discussion

A helpful way to think of the viva is as a serious academic discussion. It is an opportunity to sit and talk about your work and your field with two senior academics who know the field well.

As such, it should be challenging and stimulating, and should give you a chance to show that you can engage in serious academic discussion and debate at a very high level.

After the examination many students look back on their viva and see it as a stimulating and enjoyable experience, and they forget the nerves they felt when they first entered the viva room.

The dos and don’ts of a PhD viva

After you have carefully prepared how to defend the content of your thesis, it is important to think of how you should behave during the actual viva.

We have a whole host of PhD viva tips for you. From how to answer properly and be convincing to what to say and what not to say – here, we have clarified these things in our list of PhD viva  dos and don’ts . 

Are you a Doctor after your viva?

Once you have passed your PhD viva, you cannot officially use the title ‘Dr’ until you receive official documentation from your university stating that you are a ‘Doctor’.

Can you fail a PhD viva?

Although the majority of PhD students are happy with the outcome of their PhD viva, things don’t always go as expected, and some of the least appealing outcomes do happen. You can fail a PhD viva – although according to recent research by Discover PhDs this number is only 4%. It is more common for borderline students to be awarded a provisional pass pending amends to their research project.

If, as a PhD student, you feel that your own work is not of very high quality and you are aware that the unfavourable outcome is your fault, there is not much you can do except for complying with the decision of your examiners.

Appealing a PhD viva decision

If you feel that your viva has not been appropriately conducted and the outcome doesn’t match the quality of your performance, there are some things you can do.

Universities in the UK will usually allow you to appeal against how your examination was conducted and if you do appeal, a panel of researchers within your university will be appointed to investigate the issue, but you must possess clear evidence in your support.

If your appeal is successful, you will get a chance to undertake another viva with different examiners.

If the university hasn’t decided in your favour, you will be able to appeal to an external organisation, such as the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). But remember, appeals are usually not very successful, and it is always better to make sure that your thesis is of high quality and that you have done the right amount of PhD viva preparation.

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5 tips for passing your PhD viva

Every Doctoral researcher is expected to defend their thesis through an oral test - so discover how to prepare for your PhD viva and ensure you make a good impression on the examiners

What is a PhD viva?

A viva voce is an oral test, which literally translated means 'with the living voice'. It's a focused discussion giving you the opportunity to present your PhD thesis and then defend it in front of a panel of academic experts.

1. Understand what's expected of you

Traditionally, your thesis would always be discussed in person, with the interview style viva exam overseen by at least two (internal and external) examiners. Afterwards, they would provide you with a joint written report detailing any corrections that need to be made.

However, following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the online PhD viva has become more commonplace with this examination more likely to take place via Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom.

The virtual experience will still typically follow the same format, but you'll be briefed in advance about the arrangements and any technical aspects to bear in mind. You can prepare for an online PhD viva by reading our video interview tips .

The chair of the viva is usually the internal examiner, although it can be an independent person. If you and the examiners agree, your PhD supervisor can also be present.

The examiners' main objective is to ascertain that you've written your own thesis, so if you have and are ready to talk through how you completed it, there's no need to panic. You may even enjoy the viva voce test.

In addition to assessing your thesis, the examiners are also there to assist you in deciding how and where this research might be published.

There are various results between a 'pass' and 'fail' but it's very rare to slip up at this point of a PhD. Most Doctorate awards will be made upon the condition that a number of minor corrections are made, with re-submission requests far less common.

However, while the pass rate is high, the viva exam itself can still be intellectually demanding. This is because you'll be debating issues that are conceptually complex, so preparation is crucial to your success.

At the end of it, whatever the outcome, be prepared to take on board any advice, as the examiners are there to help you improve your argument or the presentation of your thesis.

2. Know your thesis inside out

While you can be sure this isn't a memory test - as you're fine bringing notes and a copy of your thesis with you to the PhD viva - it's still important to gain a good understanding of what you've written and be knowledge about your field of study.

You'll need to think carefully about where this original piece of work would be placed in the context of the wider body of research carried out in this field. Questions will surely be asked about this, as well as whether the project could possibly be developed further through any future research.

As you'll be explaining parts of the document to the examiners (who'll also have a digital or physical copy), make sure the pagination is the same in your version as the one they're looking at to avoid any issues regarding everybody being on the same page.

If you get stuck at any point during the viva exam, you can use looking at the thesis as an excuse to re-focus and gather your thoughts.

3. Anticipate the viva questions

The examiners will have prepared a series of questions for you to answer at the viva voce, but this is nothing to get too concerned about. The questions will all be based on your thesis - what it's about, what you did and what you found out - and why this matters, in relation to your field of study.

So when getting ready for the viva, consider the types of questions you're likely to be asked, including:

  • What original contribution has your thesis made to this field of study?
  • Explain the main research questions you were hoping to address.
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your thesis?
  • If you had to start the thesis again, what would you do differently?
  • If funding was no object, describe how you'd follow on from this project.
  • What are your plans for the future?

It can be helpful to practise your answers beforehand, ideally vocalising them by arranging a mock mini viva - although, as you aren't restricted in terms of referring to notes in the exam, you can leave room for spontaneity, and you don't need to learn it all off by heart. If your viva is being held online, you can ensure any technical issues are identified before the day by having a run through with your supervisor or a friend.

While it may sound simple, stick to answering the questions posed. It's really easy to go off on a tangent and this can open up other lines of enquiry from the examiners - possibly in areas you hadn't expected to be quizzed about.

On the other hand, it's completely fine to bring personality to your reasoning and use stories as a means of describing the learning process you've gone through and the techniques mastered over the last three or four years that have brought you to this point.

4. Learn about your examiners' own work

The senior and well-respected academics who'll be reading your thesis will have their own ideas on conducting PhD standard research. Therefore, it's worth taking a look online at their academic profiles to discover if there's any correlation with the research they've had published and your own work.

From this, you should be able to gain a better idea of their motivations, their possible views on your thesis and the kinds of questions they might wish to discuss after having read through it.

You should research up-to-date theories, read any recent papers on the subject and speak to others who've recently had their own viva exam. Think about how your work differentiates from the research carried out by others in your chosen field.

Prepare to provide any supporting evidence asked of you by the examiners - for example, they may request to see experimental data you mention once the exam is over.

It's also necessary to check the policies and practices in place at your university and be sure of what the roles of the examiners are and how the viva panel will be structured. In many cases, Doctoral students can choose the examiners conducting the PhD viva.

5. Plan towards the viva exam

From the moment you know the date of your viva voce, work backwards and plan the steps you'll need to take before the day itself. Allow enough time to assess and review your work so that as the day approaches, you can focus on the practicalities.

This encompasses everything from making sure you relax, eat and sleep well the day before to arranging transport so you get to the viva on time - if you're attending in person.

An online PhD viva will present its own challenges, so ensure your working space is presentable and you still make an effort in terms of what you'll be wearing.

It's always advisable to adhere to interview etiquette and go with something that's both smart and comfortable. By looking the part, this should get you in the right frame of mind to communicate in a professional manner.

In the build-up, avoid any situations that might make you feel stressed and instead try to adopt a positive attitude, one that results in a genuine eagerness to engage in a debate about the work you've been toiling over for a substantial period of time.

If you're travelling to the examination, be sure to check that you have everything you wish to take with you, including the thesis, plus any notes or other materials that will help support your claims.

The PhD viva can last between one and four hours - usually two - so it's necessary to pace yourself to get off to the best possible start.

Remember, the examiners aren't trying to trip you up - they want you to pass and are primarily there to hear you talk about your project. So, after the polite introductions they'll typically start with an icebreaker to put you at ease and help calm the nerves.

It's meant to be an open and honest conversation about your work, so feel free to politely disagree with the examiners, especially on areas you feel strongly about. Don't forget to use examples from your thesis to back up what you're saying, remembering to be clear and concise.

If you know your way around your thesis and can explain your thinking and way of working, this test shouldn't be a problem. And if you don't know the answer to a specific question - admit it, as it's better to concede your limitations in an area than ramble on and hope they don't notice you're struggling to come up with an explanation. No research is perfect, so it's important to appreciate this during the discussion - but don't be too overcritical about your work either, as that's not your job.

Finally, as the PhD viva can quickly move from a series of friendly questions to those that are more in-depth, take some time to think before answering. Don't worry about any periods of silence from the examiners, as this certainly isn't an indication that you're doing badly.

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Viva examinations: guidance

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This guidance explains the viva process, how to prepare, what will happen on the day and what the possible outcomes are.

This information is for postgraduate research students. It covers:

  • before your viva
  • preparing for your viva
  • during your viva
  • outcomes of the examination

Before your viva

Entry forms.

You must enter the exam via Portico about four months before you are ready to submit. You may not submit your thesis until you have entered for the examination and your examination may be delayed if you have not done this.  

Find out more about examination entry

Your supervisor is responsible for arranging the appointment of your examiners. This should be done at the same time as you complete your examination entry form, four months before you are due to submit your thesis. Examiners are appointed by UCL for their professional services as examiners with expert subject knowledge. A minimum of two examiners, one from outside UCL and (normally) one from UCL are appointed to co-examine all research degree candidates. The examiner nomination form can be found here .

Submit your thesis

Find out more about formatting, binding and submitting your thesis.

Collaborative research projects

If you are contributing to a collaborative research project you must include this information in the introduction to the thesis. You must clearly identify the demarcation between the research you are submitting for examination as an original contribution to knowledge and the work of your collaborators. 

Viva arrangements

Your supervisor (or nominee) will liaise with you and your examiners to arrange and confirm a mutually convenient time and place to hold the viva examination. The viva must not be arranged before the examiners are formally appointed by UCL. It may take place at UCL, or remotely. Your examiners should have your thesis at least six working weeks before the viva and you will receive an email once the thesis has been sent to the examiners. At this point, you will be able to record the viva via the ‘Research Student Administration’ section in Portico. A user guide is available with step-by-step instructions for submitting this information. Your viva should then take place within three months of the dispatch of the thesis to your examiners.

Download the viva notification user guide

PDF icon

Reasonable adjustments

If you or one of your examiners have a disability which UCL cannot accommodate, other reasonable arrangements can be made for the viva. You must make a request in writing when you complete the examination entry form to allow time for arrangements to be made. 

Preparing for your viva

We recommend that you re-read your thesis. Try to anticipate questions, comments and criticisms, and think how you would respond. Although you may not be able to anticipate actual questions to be asked by the examiners, this approach will encourage you to think actively about your work.   You should also refresh your memory of the relevant literature. Do not attempt to re-read every paper in the bibliography of your thesis; instead, re-read carefully some of the more recent key references. If you have left university after submitting your thesis you may be unaware of very recent work. Ask your supervisor a couple of weeks before the viva whether any work of direct relevance to your thesis has been published since you submitted your thesis.

You must not contact your examiners directly at any point leading up to the viva or afterwards.  All contact should be done by your supervisor or other relevant departmental staff member.  

A good way to prepare for your viva is to practice. Your supervisor should give you a mock viva, or arrange for this to be undertaken by a member of your upgrade panel.  

During your viva

A viva is an academic interview at which your examiners will be looking for an understanding of the subject matter of your thesis, an appreciation of its significance to established knowledge in the field, and an awareness of the breadth of the subject area. 

Your supervisor will be invited to attend your viva examination, unless you request otherwise; you must indicate this on your examination entry form. Your supervisor does not have the right to participate in the viva examination but may contribute if invited to do so by the examiners.  

The examiners will expect you to:

  • show a critical analysis of your own work and of that of others
  • appreciate the limitations of the methods employed and the results obtained by yourself and others
  • understand how the broad conclusions of your thesis support, add to or conflict with previous work
  • know the major concepts and recent developments in your subject

There is no formal procedure laid down for the conduct of the viva examination. Some examiners prefer to work through the thesis in the order in which it is written. Other examiners prefer to discuss topics. Very few examiners will perform a page by page criticism. You may be asked to prepare a presentation of your work in a suitable format.  

You are not expected to know your thesis by heart, but to refer to the appropriate page when the examiners wish to discuss a specific point. Please ensure that you bring to the viva examination a copy of your thesis paginated in the same way as the copies you have submitted to the Research Degree Examinations Office.

You should not simply answer 'yes' or 'no' to questions nor give a prepared exposition. Try to answer the question as it is put, remembering that you are engaged in an academic conversation.

Be prepared to justify your ideas and conclusions. If the examiners challenge your interpretation but you feel that your case is a good one, muster your arguments and be willing to present your case firmly but courteously. However, if the examiners have identified a genuine weakness, concede the point gracefully. Even if you feel the examiners are unreasonably critical do not become argumentative or allow the discussion to become heated. You can agree to differ and to reconsider the point. All participants in the viva must abide by UCL's Bullying and Harassment Policy . If you make any comments to your examiners which put them under moral pressure, for example alluding to what will happen if they fail you, or if you offer any incentive to your examiners to pass you, they must terminate the examination and report to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee via Research Degrees in Student and Registry Services.

Outcome of the examination

The following are the three most often received results and the subsequent procedures.

We will email you with reports from your examiners, copied to your supervisor, instructing you to submit the following documents:

  • the electronic copy of your thesis 
  • thesis deposit agreement form (uploaded with the e-thesis)

We will award your degree once you have met the academic conditions, the Library have confirmed receipt of your e-thesis and the Deposit Agreement form, and you have cleared any outstanding fees. 

The electronic copy of your thesis and thesis deposit agreement form should be deposited to the Library via UCL's Research Publications Service. Please make sure that you remove, or blank out, all personal identifiers such as signatures, addresses and telephone numbers from the e-thesis. Any photographs that you have taken should not show identifiable individuals without their permission and any you have taken of children should mask their faces. If you have any queries regarding this aspect of the process, please contact the Library directly.

UCL no longer requires a printed copy of your final thesis. If you do wish to deposit a hard copy you can do so by sending it directly to the Cataloguing & Metadata department of Library Services by post, or in person at the Main Library help desk.  You will find more information about the process on the existing webpage for e-thesis submission. 

Find out more about depositing an electronic and printed copy of your thesis

Once you have submitted these, we will send an email containing the confirmation of award and your reports to your email address you have recorded on Portico. The degree certificate will follow approximately four months after the official award date.

In the case of an examination for specialist doctorates (including the EngD, EdD and MPhilStud), the award of the degree is also conditional upon students passing all taught elements of their programme of study. The modules should be entered on to Portico by the Department and confirmation these elements have been completed will be passed from the Examinations Department to Research Degrees.

Minor corrections

This is by far the most common result received from the examiners. 

We will email you with reports from your examiners, copied to your supervisor and Faculty Graduate Tutor. The deadline to submit your corrections officially starts from the date of this email, which will also indicate the name of the person designated to check your corrections. This deadline is for you to submit the corrections to the designated checker, and not to submit the final copy of your thesis.

Your examiners may have returned an annotated copy of your thesis to you and therefore you may already be aware of the work required. The designated checker should inform you of the format he/she expects to receive the corrections, although normally this will be in electronic format.

The designated checker should confirm the outcome of the examination within one month of receipt of the minor corrections to the thesis. This is usually done by sending an email directly to Research Degrees.

Once this has been received we will follow the procedure for a pass result.

Resubmission in a revised form

We will email you with reports from your examiners, copied to your supervisor, Departmental Graduate Tutor and Faculty Graduate Tutor. The 12 or 18 month deadline officially starts from the date of this email.

Unlike the outcome for minor corrections, where one person checks the amendments, the resubmission requires you to re-enter for the examination and submit two copies of your thesis for forwarding to the examiners. 

Your examiners may have returned an annotated copy of your thesis to you and therefore you may already be aware of the work required. 

Once you have completed the corrections, you will need to:

  • submit a new exam entry form to Research Degrees at least two weeks prior to the expected submission of the thesis
  • submit an electronic copy of your thesis to Research Degrees via the UCL Dropbox.  

Find out more about formatting, binding and submitting your thesis. Your supervisor will be emailed to confirm that the examiners are still willing to act and provide their current contact details. This is to avoid the thesis from being sent out incorrectly. We will then send an email to your supervisor and examiners reconfirming their appointment and send the thesis to them via the UCL Dropbox.

If the examiners have requested a second viva, your supervisor will arrange this. In these circumstances, the procedure will follow that of a typical research degree examination.

If a further viva is not required, your examiners are only required to submit a joint report. They cannot award another 18 month resubmission, but can allow minor corrections.

Once the reports are received we will follow the procedure for either the pass or minor corrections result.

Other results

If the result falls outside the above descriptions, we will email you detailing the procedure you will need to follow.

Related content

  • Research degrees: examination entry
  • Format, bind and submit your thesis
  • Doctoral school

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What is a PhD Viva?

  • Maisie Dadswell
  • September 6, 2023

how long are phd vivas

After you have written and submitted your PhD thesis, the next stage in the process is to pass your PhD viva examination, which your PhD supervisor at UWS London will fully prepare you for. Your viva will happen within three months of submitting your thesis; after completing your viva, you will know if you have passed with flying colours and can call yourself a doctor in your respective field. Though the prospect may sound daunting, see it as the chance to prove that your creative knowledge makes you a peer to the academic panel that will be present for your viva; it is the perfect opportunity to establish yourself as an intellectual authority in your field. 

This article will cover what a viva is, how it works, what the potential outcomes are, who will be present on the panel and provide some helpful tips that are relevant for all fields of study.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest academic degree one can earn in most fields of study. It typically involves conducting original research, making a significant contribution to the field’s knowledge, and writing a dissertation or thesis that demonstrates expertise in a specific area. Learn more about PhD at UWS Londo n here .

A PhD viva also referred to as a Viva Voce, Latin for ‘living voice’, is an oral examination which follows the submission of your doctoral thesis, where you will showcase your knowledge and defend your research in front of a panel comprised of academic experts. This examination is compulsory for the vast majority of doctoral students.

PhD Viva Questions

All the questions asked during your viva will assess: 

  • Your knowledge depth in your specific area of research. 
  • How deep your knowledge is concerning the broader research field relevant to your PhD. 
  • If you can place your work in a broader context. 
  • If you can demonstrate how your research contributes to your field. 
  • If you know of any potential limitations and oversights in your work – where applicable. 

If the panel has any suspicions that your work may not be your own, they may also question the authenticity of your work.

How Long Does a PhD Viva Take?

One of the most frequently asked questions is how long is a PhD Viva. The average length is around three hours, but several factors can extend or shorten your oral examination. If there are issues in your PhD thesis or if it is poorly presented or formatted, this could lead to confusion on the panel, which will necessitate more clarification for you to set the record straight and prove that you understand your field of study. Similarly, how well-prepared you are and how concisely you respond to questions will also have a bearing on the duration of the viva. 

However, lengthy PhD defences don’t always need to be a sign that it is going poorly! Your examiners may enjoy the discussion enough that they will want to talk about it long after they have concluded that you have passed the examination. Even though, in some rare instances, a viva can take up to eight hours there may be university or country-specific rules on maximum duration – feel free to discuss this with your PhD supervisor beforehand.

Who Will Be on Your Viva Panel?

Your PhD examination will be carried out by one examiner from your university and an examiner from an outside university. Your PhD supervisor may also be on the panel, although this is not always the case. If you do find your supervisor on your viva panel, in the UK, it is common that they are prohibited from speaking. If they are present, they will solely act as observers. 

Together, the examiners will highlight what they found when reading your PhD thesis thoroughly, focusing on the theories and key concepts you put forward in your research. To ensure that the examiners are being fair and appropriate in the viva process, there is also usually a chairperson on the panel who takes notes documenting any notable suggestions or comments. The chairperson will either be internal or external from the university.

What Are the Outcomes of a Viva Exam?

In the UK, there are six potential Viva PhD outcomes. We have listed them below from the best outcome to the worst. However, it is worth bearing in mind that even if you need to make minor or major corrections after your viva, you will be given equal credit as someone who was awarded their PhD degree without corrections.

The average pass rate for a PhD viva in the UK can vary depending on the university, field of study, and specific criteria used for evaluation. However, it is generally quite high.

In many UK universities, a significant majority of candidates who reach the viva stage pass, often with some amendments required. A “pass with minor amendments” is a common outcome, indicating that the candidate has demonstrated a sufficient understanding of the research. Recent research on viva experiences indicates that 84% of Ph.D. candidates are required to make minor revisions in order to achieve a passing grade.

1. Awarded PhD Degree with No Corrections

It is rare for students to pass their PhD degree without any corrections. So, if this is your outcome following your viva, celebrations are in order! It means you have seriously impressed your examiners with your research and examination.

2. Minor Corrections Required to Pass

Recent viva experience research has highlighted that 84% of PhD candidates must make minor corrections to pass. Typically, the minor corrections will be small issues with the thesis, such as grammatical errors, typos, typograph issues, or presentational faux pas, which can be quickly edited. Don’t be disparaged if you are presented with this outcome following your viva; it still means that you have done remarkably well with your thesis and viva.

3. Major Corrections Required to Pass

This outcome is the second most common following a viva; it means you have met the required standard to be awarded your doctorate, but some revisions or corrections need to be made. Typically, this will involve you improving the structure or clarity of your thesis by rewriting chapters or adding additional analysis. Once again, needing to make major corrections shouldn’t be seen as a failure; although it may be disparaging, it doesn’t invalidate your research or contribution to your field.

4. Revise and Represent to Pass

You will be asked to revise and represent your work if the panel can see the potential within your work and that it can meet requirements if you undertake additional research or analysis. You will be presented with this outcome if your work doesn’t quite reach the PhD degree standard; unlike with the minor and major corrections outcomes, if you are asked to revise and represent, you will need to present your revised work to the panel again.

5. Awarded an MPhil Degree

If the academic panel decide that major corrections or additional research still won’t allow your work to meet the PhD standard, you may be awarded a lower-standard MPhil degree instead. For example, philosophy PhD candidates will be awarded a Master of Psychology degree instead of a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Typically, MPhil degrees are awarded in place of PhDs if your work lacks originality or the knowledge creation that a PhD requires. An MPhil degree ranks above MA and MSc degrees as the most advanced Masters degrees. An MPhil degree still demonstrates that you have the same skill set as someone who successfully obtained a PhD, and they are still valuable to employers.

6. Immediate Fail

An immediate fail is rare; a 2022 survey found that only 3.3% of PhD candidates fail their viva outright – it certainly isn’t something you should obsess over. If when you are preparing for your viva, you find some faults in your thesis, don’t be afraid to broach them yourself in your exam; this will show that you can present a passable thesis. `

PhD Viva Tips:

Don’t work with irrelevant guidance or tips.

While brushing up on generalised tips online can help you to feel prepared for your viva, remember that there will always be variability in the process, the focus of the exam, and the questions asked. The variable factors include your field of study and the university you are obtaining your doctorate. With this in mind, always chat with your supervisor to ensure you are preparing with the right and relevant knowledge.

Treat the Examiners as Equals

Your PhD defence may technically be an exam, and naturally, many PhD candidates are stressed, daunted, or overwhelmed by the process for weeks. However, you will do much better if you go into the exam with the mindset that you are equal with the academic panel and treat the examination as a discussion rather than an inquisition. Remember, your viva is your chance to be seen as a doctor, not a student.

Mindset Matters

After spending years on your thesis, you will know your subject inside and out; it is your area of expertise; don’t go into the viva with a defensive and confrontational mindset; remain confident in your knowledge creation and how it benefits your field of study. Imposter syndrome can come in hard here, so limit your negative self-talk and silence your inner critic.

Ask for a Mock Viva with Your Supervisor

Never be shy about asking your PhD supervisor for the support you need as you prepare for your viva. They will be best placed to answer all of your questions as they will know the procedure for your university and your field of research. Your PhD supervisor will likely have already been present in viva exams; they will know the score, and more importantly, after working with you for years, they will want you to pass your viva – never be shy about asking them to arrange a mock viva to help you prepare.

How long is a PhD?

If you look for an answer to the question, how long is a PhD thesis, you will notice that there is a lot of contradictory information on the internet because there is no one-size-fits-all answer for PhD students. How long does a PhD take ? Well, we’ve got all the info you need in our other blog

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  • Success Guide - doctoral students
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Your viva is a chance to show your in-depth knowledge of your subject area and discuss the important research findings that you have made - whether they are positive or negative.

A doctoral degree is a training process. Your examiners will be there to:

  • establish you have achieved this training and that the work contained in your thesis is your own.
  • see that during the course of your degree you have started to become an independent well-rounded researcher who is making a valuable contribution to the research community.

The Graduate School has put together a complete online resource Passing your Viva , including information on the processes involved, and videos on both a student perspective and an examiner's perspective.

If you want to request a remote Viva, you should read the Guidance for Students on the Modality of Final Thesis Research Degree Vivas . 

Preparing for your Viva

Before your Viva takes places there are some steps you can take in preparing yourself for the examination:

Anticipate questions that will be asked

Test yourself by doing some practice questions. Ask your supervisor to provide you with a list of questions that they would anticipate may be asked. Identify areas that you are uncertain about and discuss further with your supervisor if you have concerns about what you could be questioned on.

You may find your supervisor or department will automatically organise a mock viva. If not, ask your supervisor if they will conduct a mock viva with you, perhaps including another member of the research team who is familiar with your research work and could ask you relevant questions.

Review your material

Review your knowledge as you go along. Make sure you have not missed anything along the way. If there is anything you are unsure of, make time to focus on that area again. Mark up key parts of your thesis. Remember you are allowed to take a copy of your thesis into the examination. You can refer to it if needed, such as when discussing key figures and tables in relation to the data that you have generated.

Some time may have passed since you submitted your thesis, so make sure you are up to date with relevant publications published after your thesis submission. If you don't you may find that your examiners are more up to date on relevant published research findings than you.

Keep calm, relax, sleep well and eat well

When re-reading your thesis and revising for your viva do not let yourself get too stressed. Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for the examination. Do not leave things until the last minute - especially not the night before the viva.

Allow yourself time to relax, eat properly, and sleep. You will function better in your viva if you are not tired, hungry and grumpy - and you'll make a better impression on your examiners.

You can review the useful videos and resources put together by a group of UK universities demystifying and giving advice to students who are preparing for their viva.

You may also consider attending some workshops to further develop your communicating research skills .

During your Viva

Just as when delivering any other presentation, remember to breathe, pause between sentences and engage with your examiners. Regular eye contact is key.

If you do not understand the question, ask the examiner to repeat it. If you do not know the answer to a question, just be honest and say so.

When answering questions, take a moment to think before you speak. That way you will ensure you give a detailed but concise answer and will avoid waffling in an unfocused manner.

The Savvy Scientist

The Savvy Scientist

Experiences of a London PhD student and beyond

What is a PhD Viva Like? Sharing Graduates’ Experiences

My PhD Viva

When you’re trying to prepare for a PhD viva it can be really difficult to know what to expect. Unlike pretty much every other exam you’ll have experienced, the viva isn’t a standardised exam so you won’t find any past papers to practice on!

In this post I’ll be sharing the inside scoop on what a PhD viva is like. Both from my own experiences plus those of a few other PhD graduates.

Preparing for your viva? You may also want to take a look at some of the other PhD viva content I’ve written:

How to Defend a Thesis: An Introduction to the PhD Viva

Common phd viva questions.

Note: Every viva is different, in this post I’m focussing on my viva which took place in the UK. Two PhD graduates in Spain and the US also share their experiences.

What is a PhD viva?

For those who aren’t already familiar with what a PhD viva is, I’d highly recommend reading my full post on How to Defend a Thesis: An Introduction to the PhD Viva . This delves into how a PhD viva is assessed, who is present, the potential outcomes and what follows after.

As a quick recap, a PhD viva (also called a defense in some countries) is the final assessment a PhD student undertakes in order to pass their PhD. The format the viva can take varies from country to country and even institution to institution, but it typically involves discussing and defending your PhD thesis with experts in your field.

In this post you’ll hear about the viva experiences of three PhD graduates, each with a slightly different format.

To get the best understanding of how PhD vivas take place at your university I’d recommend:

  • Checking out any webpages your university have which formally outline the viva process
  • Speaking to your PhD supervisor
  • Chatting to colleagues such as postdocs who’ve been through it

Viva Experiences from PhD Grads

Prof elizabeth bondi-kelly , phd from harvard university, usa. assistant professor in computer science at university of michigan.

Portrait of PhD grad Dr Elizabeth Bondi-Kelly

What was your PhD viva like? At my (virtual) defense, I had my committee, adviser, labmates, and family/friends. I was fortunate to give my job talk presentation again for my defense, so I had already had a lot of practice with presenting it and being asked questions about it.

How do you suggest people prepare for their PhD viva? For anyone who hasn’t had that opportunity, I highly recommend practicing to get a polished talk and practice answering questions about it.

Prof Raúl Santos-Rodríguez , PhD from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain. Full Professor in AI at University of Bristol.

What are PhD vivas like in Spain? The viva process in Spain varies from university to university. In most cases there are a few previous filters (internal/external reports) that make it such that, once you are through those, most of the pressure is off for the actual defence. The viva consists of a public presentation (usually with colleagues, friends and family in the audience) followed by questions from a panel, with each member asking their questions in turns. Both presentation and Q&A tend to be time limited (around 45 minutes each). 

What was your PhD viva like? My viva experience was nerve-wracking but rewarding too. I remember how the exercise of putting together the presentation with the panel in mind actually gave me quite a different perspective on how to tell the story of my thesis. The event took place in a rather formal lecture room in our faculty. The panel consisted of five examiners (three externals including one from abroad, and two internals), all of whom were experts in my field of study. The panel asked me a wide range of questions, covering both very specific details and very high level matters. Once I answered their questions to their satisfaction, and after a short deliberation, I was given the good news. Overall, I found the viva to be a challenging but stimulating experience — and a good memory.

How do you suggest people prepare for their PhD viva? In terms of advice, I would suggest to:

  • Expect to be surprised by unexpected questions about your research
  • Be clear and concise, allowing examiners to ask for more details if needed
  • Practice your presentation without being constrained to say the same things every time
  • Not be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand and take your time to respond
  • Enjoy the interaction with the examiners as they are experts that have a lot to add to your work

Portrait of PhD grad Prof Raul Santos-Rodriguez

Me! PhD from Imperial College London, UK. Research Fellow in AI at Bristol.

Portrait of PhD grad Dr Jeff Clark (me)

What was your PhD viva like? My viva, which took place over Microsoft Teams, included just an internal examiner, external examiner and myself. I gave a short presentation giving a summary of my PhD then about five hours were spent giving suggestions to improve content I was preparing to submit to journals. It was much less intimidating than I was expecting.

How do you suggest people prepare for their PhD viva? I mainly suggest to not over prepare! Sure, reread your thesis and swot up on any content you don’t feel comfortable describing (for instance certain techniques you’ve used), but I would caution against rehearsing too much: come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to predict all the questions you’ll get asked.

I’ll be sharing more details on my viva experience in the rest of the post.

How To Prepare For a PhD Viva: The Advice I Was Given

Ahead of my own viva I typically got told to:

Relax and take your time in replying . This is somewhat sensible advice but a bit like telling someone to calm down: it doesn’t always work. Furthermore, relaxing can be hard to do when you also get told to…

Be prepared to answer questions about every part of your work . At face value this can seem reasonable: if you did the work, and deserve a PhD, you should be able to explain your work. Like many of us I heard the horror stories of examiners asking students to provide an explanation of fundamental techniques from first principles such as: “derive energy”!

However, I don’t think any rational examiner can expect a student to be able to answer every possible question about their PhD work. Not least because many students aren’t relaxed during the viva and instead are filled with nerves.

Thankfully, the reality is that examiners simply need to check that you’ve done the work and understand it. Therefore, yes you should be able to give a broad explanation of the techniques you’ve used but you can’t be expected to know everything about every technique.

Once it strays from your work to underlying principles I suggest that you explain as much as you feel comfortable then push back – the internal examiner (who acts as a moderator) should also step in if unreasonable questions are being asked. For more details on what PhD examiners are looking for, read this section of another post I’ve written .

How I Prepared for My PhD Viva

The time between submitting my thesis (14th February) and viva (25th March) was shorter than for most people. On top of that I didn’t spend long writing my thesis, meaning that the time between finishing my actual research and my viva was pretty short (around two months). Therefore I didn’t feel the need to “revise” for my viva. As in, sometimes you’ll hear of people reminding themselves of how certain experimental or analytic techniques work, but it was pretty fresh in my memory.

Instead, about 48 hours before my viva I started to read through my thesis. This is going to sound really bad but this was actually my first (and only) time properly reading through my thesis. No, I didn’t outsource or use ChatGPT to write my thesis!

When I submitted my thesis I had of course assembled all the chapters but had never given it a proper cohesive read all the way through. I read through the thesis over the course of 4-5 sittings. Reading fiction is definitely more fun .

I personally didn’t prepare by trying to come up with answers for lots of potential questions. But if you’re keen to have those to hand, read my Common PhD Viva Questions .

Preparing for your own viva? I’ve created a set of viva preparation worksheets which are available for free in the resource library. Click the image below for access!

Image showing free viva preparation worksheets which can be downloaded from the resource library

Why didn’t I prepare more?

I felt pretty relaxed about my viva. This isn’t because I am crazy clever or knowledgable. In fact, like many of us I’ve felt imposter syndrome, waiting for the moment that my lack of knowledge gets discovered: and if there ever a moment you’d expect this to happen it would be at your viva.

These three things relaxed me for the viva:

  • The external examiner seemed nice from the time I’d met him in the past at a conference. Certainly not a sure-fire sign that he wouldn’t turn into a scary beast during a viva but it seemed like a good starting point.
  • It was virtual. My viva took place right at the start of COVID and as such took place over Teams. For some reason this felt reassuring, as if I could get away with just unplugging my internet connection if they asked anything particularly scary. Thankfully I didn’t ever feel the need to try this out!
  • I had published PhD work in a well-ranked respected peer-reviewed journal. This was far and away the most reassuring thing. As mentioned in another post, examiners have to be confident in all of the following things to let you pass your PhD viva. If you have published some of your work somewhere respectable you tick many of the boxes immediately:

how long are phd vivas

Oh, and I also didn’t prepare much because I was preoccupied with moving from London the week before my viva because of COVID and the start of lockdowns. Unexpectedly I ended up moving in with my girlfriend’s parents. It was rather chaotic but probably a useful distraction too.

Photo of the cluttered spare bedroom where I had my PhD viva: a tiny desk with laptop near a bed and lots of belongings

My PhD Viva Experience

Who was at my viva.

Unlike vivas in other countries, such as the two international experiences shared above, a viva in the UK usually only involves:

  • PhD student – me in this case!
  • Internal examiner – an academic working in the same research area from the host university. They’re there to moderate the discussion and check that the university’s viva regulations are followed.
  • External examiner – another academic working in the research area from a different university. In my case this was someone who was a leader in the field who came from another UK university.

Optionally the PhD student may ask their supervisor to attend. I’ve known of a few people who’ve had their supervisor there too, though it’s pretty rare and unnecessary in my opinion.

How long did my PhD viva last?

All in all it was about five and a half hours.

This was much longer than I anticipated. When we scheduled the viva to start at 10am I naively expected us to be finished by lunch. Admittedly the examiners did suggest stopping for a break at lunch time but again I naively thought we’d be done shortly afterwards, so declined the opportunity for more than a 5 minute comfort break. In the end we finished up around 3:30pm.

How was my PhD viva structured?

Pie chart showing the four sections of my PhD viva: as described below

  • Introductions (2 minutes) . I’d actually never met my internal examiner (who should act as a moderator) so introductions were necessary.
  • Presentation (10 minutes) . A few weeks in advance of the viva I asked whether or not the examiners would like a presentation, and if so of what length. They said yes, 10-12 minutes. My supervisor strongly suggested making it on the shorter side: short and snappy is good and you’re about to have hours to discuss the details.
  • Discussion (5 hours, yes, really!) . More on this in a moment.
  • Decision and final comments (10 minutes) . I was asked to leave the metaphorical room (Teams call, remember!) and after a few minutes was invited back in after which they told me I’d passed with minor corrections. They gave a summary of the next steps, which were mostly administrative with paperwork, and briefly went over what changes/corrections they were expecting to the thesis.

What did we discuss for five hours?

Before my viva I had visions of it being like a job interview that lasts for hours and hours. They ask a slightly tough or awkward question, you try and answer, rinse and repeat x 100. The reality was really different.

The experience was much less intense than I was expecting. The examiners said from the outset that they were happy with the quality of the work and just aimed to give feedback to improve both the thesis and publications.

The vast majority of the viva was spent going page by page through the thesis covering points that the examiners had written down: not questions, merely suggestions. Very little of the viva involved me getting questioned: most of what I said was probably along the lines of “I agree, that’s a great idea”.

The examiners commented that they liked the [short] length of the thesis (140 pages before references) which may have helped. I was expecting at least a few dodgy questions such as explaining the content of a particular reference or deriving something from first principles. In all honestly I’m not sure I’d have been prepared for some of this, so was fine with not getting a hard time of it.

There were very few questions in general which was somewhat of a relief, though I was kind of looking forward to more of a discussion around the project. There were only two actual questions I think I got asked: one explaining why a particular technique wasn’t representative, and secondly a much more fluffy question of what would I do differently if I was starting again. That was it. I was really expecting more questions.

Every viva is unique so I can’t claim that my experience is representative but I will say that it was a relief to get through it unscathed.

What I wish I’d done differently

Asked more questions myself . The viva is one of the few times you’re likely to have hours of access to academic experts with such a keen interest in your work.

Was it tiring?

A little, just as any meeting which lasts over five hours would be. But because I didn’t feel like I was actually getting quizzed the whole time it was nowhere near as tiring as it could have been. Mostly I was tired just from having to pay attention for that long: I usually don’t sit still for more than 20 minutes!

What happened afterwards?

My viva was in March 2020, at the start of lockdown. I’d moved from London just the week prior and had to cancel the scheduled celebratory drinks with colleagues. So instead I had a glass of champagne with my girlfriend and her parents (who I was staying with).

Photo of me smiling with a glass of champagne after my viva

After that, I got cracking right away the next morning on making the examiners’ suggested changes to my thesis.

My Advice If You’re Preparing For Your Own PhD Viva

  • Download my free viva preparation guide .
  • Read your thesis!
  • Look up likely questions (if you want), here are some Common PhD Viva Questions
  • Don’t over prepare
  • Be honest. If you’re not sure about something, make this clear. Feel free to say you’re not sure.
  • Ask questions
  • Enjoy it! Channel those nerves as excitement and make the most of having experts show such an interest in your work.

Do you have any other questions about the PhD viva experience? Let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them as best I can!

If you’d like personalised help with preparing for your PhD viva I am now starting to offer a small number of one-to-one sessions. Please contact me to find out more or click here to book a call.

If you’re currently preparing for your own PhD viva, best of luck and remember to enjoy it! Be sure to check out the couple of other viva-related posts I’ve written .

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The Oral Examination (viva) - Doctoral degrees, MSc and MLitt

If you have not been advised of the date for your viva within six weeks of submitting your thesis, you should contact your Degree Committee.

Location of the viva

The viva will normally take place in-person in Cambridge, but you may choose to be examined remotely by video conference. You should inform your Degree Committee of your preference when you notify them of your intention to submit/apply for appointment of examiners. Please also make your supervisor aware of your preference as it may affect the choice of available examiners.

Arrangements where you and one examiner are co-located in Cambridge, with the second examiner participating by video conference, where both examiners are co-located and you participate by video conference, or where you and the examiners are all in separate locations, are permissible provided all parties agree.

In-person oral examination:  In-person examinations may be delayed depending on the availability of the examiners as travel time will need to be factored in. Students who are overseas and returning to Cambridge for their viva should contact the International Student Office for visa advice if their student visa has expired or will be expiring soon.

Video conference oral examination: A guide to conducting vivas by video conference can be found here .

The choice of in-person or video conference viva does not constitute procedural irregularity grounds for complaint should you fail the examination.

Adjustments to the oral examination on the grounds of disability

If you wish to notify examiners of a disability or request adjustments on account of a disability for your viva (either your first year assessment or final examination), you can do this via your Degree Committee by completing and submitting the voluntary disclosure form . It is recommended you do this at least four weeks before your expected date of examination to allow time for appropriate recommendations and adjustments to be made. 

Once you have submitted the form, your Degree Committee will contact the University’s Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) who will advise the Degree Committee on the appropriate course of action. You may be contacted by the ADRC if additional information is required or to provide you with an offer of additional support.

The information provided on the voluntary disclosure form will be kept confidential and will not be used for any other purpose.

If you already have a Student Support Document (SSD) that includes recommendations for adjustments to the viva , and you have given permission for the SSD to be shared with the Degree Committee, you do not have to complete the voluntary disclosure form but may do so if you wish.

What happens at the viva?

  • The viva will normally take place in Cambridge, although some may take place via video-conference (please see above)
  • It is carried out between yourself and the two examiners and is conducted in English
  • It may include an Independent Chairperson if the Degree Committee requires this
  • There is no set duration, but a viva will normally last between 90 minutes and three hours
  • You may be required to do a presentation - please check with your Department whether this is the case. If you are required to give a presentation, you should be informed at least two weeks in advance of the viva
  • The viva cannot be recorded
  • Your supervisor cannot attend the viva

Your Department should advise on any department-specific conventions or procedures.

Purpose of the viva

The viva gives the opportunity for:

  • you to defend your thesis and clarify any matters raised by your examiners
  • the examiners to probe your knowledge in the field
  • the examiners to assure themselves that the work presented is your own and to clarify matters of any collaboration
  • the examiners to come to a definite conclusion about the outcome of the examination

Possible outcomes of the viva

The possible outcomes are:

  • Conditional approval - pass without correction (but for doctoral degrees subject to submission of hardbound and electronic copies of the thesis ); or pass, subject to minor or major corrections 
  • Revision and resubmission of the work for a fresh examination
  • Revision and resubmission of the work for a fresh examination or acceptance of the MSc/MLitt without further examination (but possibly subject to corrections)
  • Not to be allowed to revise the thesis, but offered the MSc/MLitt without further revision or examination (but possibly subject to corrections)
  • Outright failure

Notification of the result of the viva

Your examiners are asked not to give any direct indication of the likely outcome of the examination as the official result can be confirmed only by Student Registry on behalf of the Postgraduate Committee. Following your Degree Committee's meeting they will forward their decision to the Student Registry who will email your reports to you, copying in your Supervisor.

Process following the viva

Information about the process following your viva can be found here.

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interview

How to survive a PhD viva: 17 top tips

Just handed in your PhD thesis? Now it’s time to plan for the next hurdle: a viva. Academics offer their advice on how to best prepare

  • Finishing your PhD thesis: tips from those in the know
  • The key to a successful PhD thesis? Write in your own voice
  • PhD: so what does it really stand for?

H anding in your PhD thesis is a massive achievement – but it’s not the end of the journey for doctoral students. Once you’ve submitted, you’ll need to prepare for the next intellectually-gruelling hurdle: a viva.

This oral examination is a chance for students to discuss their work with experts. Its formal purpose is to ensure that there’s no plagiarism involved, and that the student understands and can explain their thesis. It involves lots of penetrating questions, conceptually complex debates and is infamously terrifying.

How can PhD students best prepare? We asked a number of academics and recent survivors for their tips.

Preparing for the viva

1) Check your institution’s policies and practices

Institutional policies and practices vary. Find out who will attend your viva (eg will a supervisor attend, will there be an independent chair?) and what their roles are. Penny Tinkler and Carolyn Jackson, authors of The Doctoral Examination process: A Handbook for Students, Examiners and Supervisors

2) Re-read your thesis – and keep up-to-date with research

Don’t underestimate the amount of time the examiners will have spent reading and thinking about your thesis – however, you should remember that you are still likely to be the “expert in the room” on this particular topic. Check to see if any relevant recent papers have emerged since submitting the thesis and, if so, read these. Dianne Berry, dean of postgraduate research studies, University of Reading

3) As an examiner, you tend to stick to things you’re an expert in when driving the questioning

Your viva panel will consist of an external expertise in your subject area and an internal which may be in a subject field associated or directly related to yours. The external examiner is the one who mainly calls and fires all the shots and so it’s pretty important to have a knowledge of their published contributions, especially those that are related to your thesis in any way. Dr Bhavik Anil Patel, senior lecturer in physical and analytical chemistry

4) Think about what you will or won’t defend

Consider carefully what you will defend to the hilt in the viva, and what you are prepared to concede. It’s important to defend your claims about the originality of the thesis and its contribution to knowledge. However, no research is perfect, and showing that you have considered what could have been done differently, or even better, is not a bad thing. Penny Tinkler and Carolyn Jackson, authors of The Doctoral Examination process: A Handbook for Students, Examiners and Supervisors

5) Draw up lists of possible questions – especially ones you dread

I collected questions from a bunch of different places ( listed here ) which I then tailored to my PhD. Somebody I worked with also recommended that I put together my 10 nightmare questions. I found this really useful, by writing down and thinking about my dreaded questions, they were no longer so bad – it was almost as if I’d faced the beast.

Generally speaking, I was able to predict the questions that I was asked. There were a couple that were unexpected but they were either conceptual points or based on literature that I just didn’t know. Richard Budd, research assistant, University of Bristol who sat his viva in summer 2014 and has blogged about the experience

6) It’s not like sitting at a laptop where you can edit a sentence as you go along

By the time you finish your PhD you’ll know your thesis inside out. One of the things you won’t be as practised at is talking about it. When I was preparing for my viva, I practised vocalising answers. It’s not a case of needing to learn to answers verbatim – this would only work as a technique if you could guarantee the exact way your examiner will ask a question – but it is about thinking about how you will articulate certain things. A viva isn’t like sitting at a laptop where you can edit a sentence as you go along. Richard Budd, research assistant, University of Bristol who sat his viva in summer 2014 and has blogged about the experience

7) Bring a printed copy that is exactly the same as that of your examiners

Ensure you and your supervisor have a printed copy that is exactly the same as that of your examiners (specifically the same pagination). Mark with tabs the key sections and highlight for reference important quotes and points you might want to refer to. If you have some key diagrams it may help to have these printed larger on A4 sheets that can be used in a discussion.

There is a chance, albeit slim, that an examiner will wish to see some piece of experimental data, software, or other supporting evidence. Have this all neatly archived and accessible. You can do this after submission. Anthony Finkelstein, dean of the UCL faculty of engineering sciences who has blogged about surviving vivas

During the viva

8) Get off to a good start

Give a few detailed answers in the opening 15 minutes, demonstrating knowledge, describing your thinking and working - then the examiners are likely to relax into the viva. If the first few answers are short and non-specific, not demonstrating knowledge, this can begin to raise concerns, and that can set the tone for the whole viva. This is avoidable. Rowena Murray, author of How to Survive Your Viva: Defending a Thesis in an Oral Examination

9) Prepare for the icebreaker

Every viva opens with that dreaded icebreaker that is supposed to break you in gently but often seems to be the thing that gets students into a pickle. It’s so basic, students almost forget about it. Most often this would be to give a five to 10 minute introduction to your work and your key findings. This is such a common question that not preparing for it would be silly. Dr Bhavik Anil Patel, senior lecturer in physical and analytical chemistry

10) Silence doesn’t mean bad news

Don’t assume that you will be given any indication of the outcome at the start of the viva. The examiners may or may not offer comments on the thesis at this stage and candidates should not interpret a lack of comments at this point as a negative sign. In some cases institutional policy prohibits it. Penny Tinkler and Carolyn Jackson, authors of The Doctoral Examination process: A Handbook for Students, Examiners and Supervisors

11) Don’t point out your own weaknesses

Avoid shooting yourself in the foot by highlighting the weaknesses in the thesis by being overly humble (eg “I didn’t think this would be an acceptable piece of research given the way I handled x or y”) or by saying what you “failed to achieve” or “did not manage to carry out in a robust manner” etc. Leave that to the examiners to pick up in their reading, they don’t need help. Dr Mariana Bogdanova, lecturer in management, Queen’s University Belfast

12) Don’t talk like a politician There’s a danger of trying to over-prepare. Don’t learn answers off by heart – it removes the spontaneity and is obvious to examiners. If a student has pre-prepared answers they become a bit like politicians, answering questions they weren’t asked rather than the ones they were. I have come across mixed views on mock vivas. Some people really like them – and they can settle nerves – but other times it can remove spontaneity and steal your thunder. Jerry Wellington, head of research degrees at University of Sheffield and author of Succeeding with Your Doctorate

13) You may need to move from friendly questions to complex debates

Vivas can appear friendly and then suddenly go very conceptually complex. The language used is an alternation between accessible normal language and really specialised arguments. The student needs to be able to move orally between the two. Gina Wisker, professor of higher education and contemporary literature at Brighton University

14) If things get on top of you, use the excuse of having a look at the thesis

Make sure that before the viva you get plenty of sleep, eat properly and de-stress. If things get too much when you’re in there, use the excuse of having to look something up in your thesis. You could also pause and say “Can I write that down for a moment?” Stall for time until you get yourself back together again. Gina Wisker, professor of higher education and contemporary literature at Brighton University

15) Focus on your contribution

One of the most important things that the examiners will be looking for in your thesis, is the “contribution to knowledge”. It is the contribution which makes your work doctoral level. Be sure that you understand exactly what your contribution is, and that you are able to express and explain it clearly and concisely.

Write it down in a paragraph. Discuss it with you supervisor and fellow students. Make sure that you can relate your contribution to other work in your field and that you are able to explain how your work is different. Peter Smith, author of The PhD Viva

16) Expect your viva to last between one and three hours

Students frequently ask how long the viva is likely to be. Obviously they vary. Discipline differences are important. Our research suggests that most natural and applied sciences vivas were completed in one to three hours, whereas arts, humanities and social science vivas were typically less than two hours long. In the natural and applied sciences 43% of vivas lasted two hours or less, compared to 83% in arts, humanities and social sciences. Penny Tinkler and Carolyn Jackson, authors of The Doctoral Examination Process: A Handbook for S tudents, Examiners and Supervisors

17) Enjoy it

The best advice I ever got was “Try to enjoy it”. It seemed ludicrous at the time, but I actually found myself really getting into the discussion as the viva went on. It’s one of the earliest chances you get to talk to someone who not only informed your research (ideally) but is also conversant with your own. It’s a great chance to explore the contours of your research – treat it as such, and it doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Michael James Heron, school of computing science and digital media, Robert Gordon University

  • Share any advice you have in the comments below.

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ThePhDHub

Preparing for a PhD Viva

“The PhD viva is a verbal or mock evaluation process to award a PhD degree.” 

Preparing for a PhD viva is a crucial stage for your entire PhD tenure after all it decides your fate. Yes, it is as important as your PhD thesis or dissertation. So need to be prepared well before the viva. 

But don’t panic! It’s not the end of life if you fail. It’s just a viva voce session much like you have faced in graduations or masters. In fact, it’s easier than that! I will explain to you how. 

Here in the present article, I will share with you some of the tips you should care about when preparing for the viva. I will also share with you my knowledge and experience focusing on how you can achieve a successful viva voce session. 

First, we have to understand the structure of PhD viva and why it is important. 

Related articles:

  • What is a PhD?
  • PhD memes of 2020.

What is a PhD viva?

The viva voce gathering is conducted to fulfill the requirement of the award of PhD. We can consider it as a final stage or kind of examination of a PhD student . 

So obviously you have to prepare well. 

The viva is of two different kinds in context to PhD, open viva session and close viva session. 

In the open viva session, anyone can participate in your viva presentation, it’s much like a lecture. Also, everyone can take part in the discussions too. In universities of the USA and Canada, open viva for PhD is usually, conducted. 

While in the close viva session, only two external referees, supervisors and one nominee from university can take part (in close doors). In the UK and related territories, the close viva is mandatory. 

However, in India and Pakistan, universities are independently takes decision to conduct viva. 

So the immediate question strikes in mind that which viva system is the best! Frankly speaking, we can’t compare. Both have their importance and drawbacks. 

For instance, in an open session, some people can harass you and make it difficult for you to focus. While in close viva session, a decision is entirely on the external evaluator, because no other subject experts are there. So it might difficult for you to convince a single person. So let’s put that aside and focus on the viva preparation. 

how long are phd vivas

Preparations for PhD Viva:

First, thing! Keep in mind that the process of PhD viva is somehow similar to the other master’s or bachelor’s examination, but not the content. You do not have to remember protocols, theories and definitions unlike other viva’s.

Your PhD viva is focused only on your PhD topics and your thesis. Questions and discussions are conducted based on your PhD topic or thesis. So here is the catch!

If you have performed you PhD sincerely, the viva session is easy for you, trust me. 

But for someone, who even doesn’t know what’s there in his or her thesis, make sure, it will be a difficult time for them to even complete the viva. If you are from case one, be relaxed. And just go through the article. 

But if you are from the second case, you should have to prepare a bit well, if you really wish to complete a PhD in the first attempt. 

So here are some of the key points to prepare for PhD viva session 

Viva presentation: 

A short and good PowerPoint present is must require in a viva. The presentation should be a point to point writing to just use as a reference to discuss things. Do not fill it with texts, images and thesis data. 

Make a two presentation replicas, one in-depth ppt of approximately 40 to 50 slides and another with just 20 slides. Why we have to do this! We don’t know the pattern of the examiner. Some prefer short presentations while some prefer longer in-depth. 

So to be on a safe side prepare two presentations. 

Divide you presentation is sections: Two slides for introduction, two to four slides for literature, four slides for material and methods, 6 to 10 slides for results, one for interpretation and two for your introduction and ending note. 

Try to make short sentences and eye-catchy images in your presentation. The slide should of a kind of reference for an examiner. We are not giving a presentation, we are discussing a PhD thesis, so the more weightage should be on talking and discussion rather than reading slides. 

Keep your presentation simple and understandable that cover all the chapters on your thesis. 

Also, The presentation should be professional looking, do not fill it with unnecessary images and smilies and avoid the thank you notes on last. Instead, you can end your presentation with one mesmerizing quote. 

Read more: Life after PhD .

Spoiler: You will be asked which you will show. 

Lastly, check you presentation with your supervisor and colleague to avoid mistakes. 

Your appearance: 

You are neither going for job interview nor for college viva so no need to make our appearance so perfect or too causal. Make a comfortable look, wear light-colored clothes and try to look positive, not smart. 

Keep with you…

Keep with you, your PhD thesis, some notes, a Pendrive with thesis and presentation in different formats and a CD for back up. 

Avoid things…

You are not going to examination, do not take pen, pencil and other examination things with you. Also no need to carry all the documents regarding PhD. Your supervisor will be there to show your true identity. 

Just go casually like you are going to give a lecture. 

During the presentation…

We are still not mature enough to handle things because we don’t have that much experience. So try hard to make a viva session positive enough for you, you should have to take care about several points. 

First, it’s a discussion session, don’t argue to correct your point. 

Respect the examiner’s opinion even if you know he or she is wrong, it is not possible, though. Because they have vast knowledge in your field. 

If you think the examiners are not getting your point correctly, politely try to correct them. 

If you think the question is not answerable for you, openly accept it that I don’t know about it, don’t try to trick them, again I am telling you “they re experts”.

If you know the answer but you need some data or information to see, don’t hesitate, check your thesis or notes to answer the question, again remember, it’s not an examination. All you have to do is! Defending your thesis. 

Your thesis should have some strengths and weaknesses, its a common thing. Accept openly your weaknesses and loop-holes of your research work. 

Do not offend with examiners comment or criticism, be relaxed, positive and polite, even though they are not! Ultimately it will help you in the end. 

If you feel that the question or discussion is going away from your research topic or thesis, immediately interrupt them and request to get back on point. 

Do not answer if you don’t know, take time and think before answering. 

Remember, if discussions got complex and heated, your research is something much noticeable. 

End the viva: 

End the presentation with a quote and end the session with a small smile on your face. Confess what you like during viva and don’t forget to thank everyone who participated in the viva. 

Results of viva: 

The viva result is “yer” or “no” in a different way. If an examiner will satisfy with your work he will appreciate it and give some small indication to look after in future. 

Even if they want some small modifications in your thesis, It is considered as ‘yes’ also. Usually, the thesis never got rejected in viva until it is totally out of focus from the main objective.

If examiners are not satisfied with your work, they can suggest some correction which in most cases, not appointed for re-viva. 

Relared article:

How long does it take to get a PhD?

Conclusion:

Besides, your research matter and subject knowledge, how you present yourself, how you behave during viva and what you present make a difference. If your research topic is solving some real-world problems, it is worth appreciated. 

Dr Tushar Chauhan

Dr. Tushar Chauhan is a Scientist, Blogger and Scientific-writer. He has completed PhD in Genetics. Dr. Chauhan is a PhD coach and tutor.

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How to structure your viva presentation (with examples)

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Most PhD vivas and PhD defences start with a short presentation by the candidate. The structure of these presentations is very important! There are several factors and approaches to consider when developing your viva presentation structure.

Factors to consider when developing a viva presentation structure

Structuring your viva presentation traditionally, structuring your viva presentation around key findings, structuring your viva presentation around key arguments, structuring your viva presentation around case studies, final thoughts on viva presentation structures.

A PhD viva or PhD defence is often one of the last steps that PhD students have to pass before receiving a doctorate. The viva or defence usually starts with a short presentation of the PhD candidate on the PhD thesis.

Presenting a whole PhD in a short amount of time is very challenging. After all, a PhD is often the result of several years of work!

It is simply impossible to include everything in a viva presentation.

Therefore, tough choices have to be made in terms of what to include, what to highlight, and what to exclude.

The structure of a viva presentation plays a crucial role in bringing across the key messages of your PhD.

Therefore, there are several factors to consider when developing a viva presentation structure:

  • Available presentation time : Viva presentations usually last between 10 and 20 minutes, but every university has different regulations. Developing a structure for a viva presentation that lasts 10 minutes is different from developing one for a presentation that lasts 20 minutes or more. Thus, find out how much time you are allowed to present!
  • The key contribution of your thesis: The structure of a viva presentation should reflect the content and key messages of the PhD thesis. For instance, if you have written a very theoretical PhD thesis, it makes no sense to structure your whole presentation around your data collection and analysis. Make sure that the viva presentation structure is in line with your main messages.
  • University standards: It is recommended to discuss your ideas and plans for your viva presentation structure with others, as each university may have may be different (and even unspoken) rules and standards. Ask your supervisors about their preferred viva presentation structure. And talk to your peers who defend their theses before you.
  • Clear storyline : Every presentation should have a logical structure which allows the audience to follow a crystal-clear storyline. This is also true for viva presentations. Thus, clarify your storyline and develop a presentation structure that supports it.

A very traditional viva presentation structure simply follows the structure of the PhD thesis.

This means that the viva presentation covers all parts of the thesis, including an introduction, the literature review, the methodology, results, conclusions, etcetera.

Example of a traditional viva presentation structure

The advantage of this rather traditional format is that it provides information on each thesis chapter. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to prepare.

The disadvantage of this traditional format is that it is very challenging to fit all the information in a – let’s say – 10-minute presentation.

Furthermore, it can result in a presentation that is quite boring for the examiners, who have read the thesis in preparation for the viva.

One interesting way is to structure a viva presentation around the key findings of the PhD research.

For instance, you can select your three main findings which you each connect to the existing literature, your unique research approach and your (new) empirical insights.

Example of a viva presentation structure around key findings

A viva presentation structure around key findings emphasises the unique contribution of a PhD thesis, particularly in empirical terms.

A challenge of this structure, however, is to narrow down the presentation to a handful of key findings.

Furthermore, it might be tricky to find enough time during the presentation to discuss your theoretical framework and embed your discussion in the existing literature when addressing complex issues.

A viva presentation structured around key arguments is very similar to one that is structured around key findings. However, while key findings place more emphasis on the empirical data, key arguments operate at a higher level:

Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights.

Example of a viva presentation structure around key arguments

So, for example, your key argument 1 is your stance on an issue, combining your theoretical and empirical understanding of it. You use the existing theory to understand your empirical data, and your empirical data analysis to develop your theoretical understanding.

A viva presentation structure around key arguments is probably the most difficult viva presentation structure to choose.

However, if it is well done, it is probably the most academically strong and advanced way of defending your PhD.

Another common way to structure a viva presentation is around case studies or study contexts.

This structure is only applicable when the PhD thesis includes a comparative (case study) analysis, which is quite common in the social sciences and humanities.

A presentation can, for instance, first discuss the theoretical framework and research approach, then present Case 1, and then Case 2 or more if applicable.

Example of a viva presentation structure around case studies

A viva presentation structure around case studies can be easy to follow for the audience, and shed light on the similarities and differences of cases.

However, as always, you need to reflect on whether the structure supports your key message. If your key message does not centre around similarities and/or differences in cases, this is not the structure for you!

Every PhD thesis is unique, and therefore also every viva presentation structure should be unique.

The key to a good viva presentation is to choose a structure which reflects the key points of your PhD thesis that you want to convey to the examiners.

The example viva presentation structures discussed here intend to showcase variety and possibilities and to provide inspiration.

Never just copy a viva presentation structure that worked for others .

Always think about what fits best to your thesis, asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the main message of my PhD that I want to share during my viva?
  • How do I develop a crystal clear storyline to bring this main message across?
  • How can I structure my viva presentation to support and facilitate this storyline?

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The PhD oral (viva)

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How is it organised?

When the Degree Committee appoints your Examiners, we put your Internal Examiner (who is normally in Cambridge) in charge of arranging the viva. The Internal Examiner will be given your and the External Examiner's contact details and they should contact you within approximately 6 weeks of them receiving your thesis. It is the Internal Examiner who will be in charge of setting up a time and a place convenient to all three participants.

Where does the oral examination take place?

The oral examination is usually held in-person in Cambridge but, subject to the Degree Committee's approval, it may exceptionally be held elsewhere. If you are asked to travel to another location, you will be able to reclaim the fare (within reasonable limits).

You may also choose to be examined remotely by video conference. You will be invited to indicate your preference when you give notice of your intention to submit. Guidance for vivas by video conference is available on the Cambridge Students website.

What happens in the oral?

Your Examiners will question you on the thesis and the general field of your work. They may question you about any details they are uncertain about having read the work, including any sections in which there is any doubt about who actually did the work. They may ask you about possibilities of future work arising from your research. Some Examiners may ask you to give a structured presentation about your research at the start of the viva; if required your Examiners will notify you of the format of the presentation at least two weeks before the scheduled viva date.

You will defend your thesis (your idea) and clarify any uncertainties.

A PhD oral rarely lasts for less than 2hrs, but may be considerably longer.

In some cases, the Degree Committee may appoint an Independent Chair to oversee the oral. You will be notified if this is the case.

What can I take into my viva?

  • a copy of your thesis (the same as that you submitted)
  • plain paper and a pen/pencil for taking notes or sketching ideas
  • a presentation in the form specified by your Examiners if requested - your Examiners will advise you in advance if a presentation is required
  • any other provision agreed in advance with the Disability Resources Centre and Degree Committee

Will the examiners tell me the result?

Not exactly. The result is only confirmed after the Degree Committee has read the Examiners' reports and recommendation and made a decision on award of the degree. Occasionally the Committee may make a different decision to the examiners in borderline cases. But most candidates have a fairly clear idea of how things went by the time the oral has been completed.

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How the viva process works

The viva is a long-established part of the examination process for a research degree. The main focus of the assessment is on the written thesis/dissertation (and other outputs, for a Practice as Research students). However, the viva, which is the oral part of the assessment, is used to inform the examiners’ final assessment decision.

The viva gives the examiners the opportunity to explore any issues in detail and provide inspiring advice for your future research career. Examiners may have a strong sense of the outcome from reading the thesis, but the viva gives you an opportunity to defend your work, as well as to validate the thesis and demonstrate your skills in participating in academic discussion with research colleagues.

Viva arrangements

Your department is responsible for nominating two examiners: one internal and one external, whose names must be approved by the Faculty Dean (Postgraduate).

The internal examiner is expected to undertake any arrangements necessary for conducting the viva. You’ll then be contacted to confirm the arrangements for the examination of the thesis, including the date and time of the viva.

The viva should be held no later than two months after your examiners receive your thesis for examination unless exceptional circumstances prevent it from happening. In the case of a staff candidate, the department must nominate two external examiners, rather than an internal and an external, and an Independent Chair is appointed to oversee the examination process.

Students who fail to engage in viva arrangements, to the extent where it has not been possible to conduct a viva, shall be deemed to have withdrawn permanently from the University.

Viva format

Two formats are available as standard viva examination formats of the University: Video Link Vivas and In-Person Vivas. The availability of both video link vivas and in-person vivas means that the most appropriate format can be sought, to support any individual needs and adjustments appropriately, including cultural and/or interpersonal challenges.

Video Link Vivas provide the ability to expand the network of external examiners internationally as potential barriers, such as financial constraints, time commitments and our environmental efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, are removed. There are both financial and time-saving benefits for all viva attendees, including candidates, who will not have to bear the costs of returning to campus for their viva.

The diverse nature of some thesis and viva formats (including, but not limited to, Practice as Research examinations) are potentially not well-suited to the video link format, so this should be considered when deciding on the viva format.

In advance of the thesis submission, students should discuss with their supervisor which examination format is most appropriate and preferred. Where possible, the department will look to accommodate a student’s preference, and will liaise with the examination team before making a decision.

Venue (in-person vivas)

In cases where the viva is taking place in-person, the venue for the viva should normally be on campus, reasonably quiet and allow the viva to proceed without interruption.

The Faculty Dean (Postgraduate)’s approval is required for a viva to be held at a venue outside the University of Essex or one of its Partner Institutions.

Technical preparation (video-link vivas)

The University recommends the use of Zoom as its preferred and supported video- conferencing software. The Graduate Administrator within each Department/School will be responsible for arranging the Zoom meeting, and wherever possible a University video- conferencing room should be used.

Technical assistance will be provided by Audio Visual Services as required. This will include practical advice on the protocols of communication by video link. Time should be allowed before the start of the viva to ensure the software and equipment is working correctly, and that all parties are satisfied with the arrangement.

Who attends?

The viva will normally only involve the internal examiner, the external examiner and the student.

The Faculty Dean (Postgraduate) may appoint an Independent Chair, who is a senior member of the Academic or Research staff of the University of Essex, to oversee the conduct of the oral examination in line with the Policy for the Appointment of Independent Chairs for Research Degree Vivas  (.pdf).

The student’s supervisor can only be present in exceptional circumstances, approved on an individual basis by the Faculty Dean (Postgraduate) and with the agreement of the external examiner.

The length of a viva will vary but if it is longer than two hours the internal examiner will recommend an adjournment for a break.

If you feel the need for a break earlier than two hours, please feel free to inform the examiners. Any breaks taken will not affect the outcome of the viva.

Discussion between examiners

Once you’ve submitted your thesis and the examiners have been appointed, copies of the thesis/dissertation and examination paperwork are sent to the examiners by the Postgraduate Research Education Team.

The examiners must not contact each other to discuss their assessment of your thesis, nor engage in discussion with you ahead of the viva, except for when making logistical arrangements. On the day of the viva and before seeing the student, the examiners will have a pre-viva meeting at which they discuss their initial assessment and agree the approach to the viva, including the areas of questioning.

It is the responsibility of the internal examiner to oversee the proceedings at the viva and to ensure that the University’s Principal Regulations for Research Degrees are adhered to, unless an Independent Chair has been appointed.

The start of the viva

At the start of the viva, the internal examiner will introduce the examination team, confirm the purpose of the viva, and explain how the viva will proceed. If there is anything you’re unsure of, now is a good time to ask.

Questioning

Remember, no one is perfect. There will be strengths and weaknesses to your research and your examiners will want to explore these in more detail.

Normally, the examiners will start with some general/introductory questions that will ease you into discussing your thesis and research. These will be followed by a discussion of strengths and weaknesses of the thesis. It will be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your abilities of self-analysis and reflection, exploring things you’d do differently in future and what you’ve learnt during the process.

The examiners will be asking questions to provide clarification, and seek explanation and elaboration where appropriate. Please remember that each examiner has a different style, and some questions may appear quite direct and challenging. In this situation, it’s important to stay relaxed and take your time to give a thoughtful response.

If you are asked a question which you don’t understand, feel free to ask for clarification.

Reaching a decision

Once the viva has finished, you’ll be asked to leave the room, whilst the examiners reach a conclusion about the recommended result. The result will be one which is listed in the University’s Principal Regulations for Research Degrees .

You’ll then be invited back into the room to be told the recommended result and the reasons for the decision. If corrections are required, you’ll be sent a written list of corrections after the viva.

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Top 18 PhD Viva Questions | Examples

The PhD viva is an oral assessment held by a committee during the PhD defense. This evaluation involves the committee posing inquiries to the PhD candidate regarding their research work and dissertation.

The candidate must showcase their expertise in the field and how it relates to their project’s focus. The primary aim of the PhD viva is to ascertain if the candidate has fulfilled the criteria for obtaining their degree.

This article explores the PhD viva questions, provides 18 sample questions, and offers advice on responding to them effectively.

  • Table of Contents

A PhD viva, also known as a viva voce, is the concluding assessment where a candidate addresses inquiries posed by an academic committee regarding their completed work and understanding of their chosen field.

It serves to evaluate whether the candidate has effectively shown their comprehension of their specific research domain to produce original contributions.

The questions asked during a PhD viva typically come from the candidate’s original work proposal and other submitted written materials.

Types of PhD Viva Questions

Examiners typically prepare a set of questions for candidates to address during the PhD viva voce exam. These questions primarily center around the candidate’s thesis.

However, the questions asked in PhD viva exams can generally be categorized into four main areas:

  • General Questions
  • Research Context and Methods
  • Analysis and Findings
  • Discussions and Conclusion/Implications

Therefore, as you prepare for your PhD viva and defend your thesis, it’s crucial to consider the types of questions you might encounter.

This preparation allows you to practice your responses beforehand, ensuring you are not caught off guard during the viva.

Preparing and practicing your responses to questions from these four fundamental categories will significantly help in your preparation efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions for PhD Vivas and How to Answer to Them

While focusing on addressing frequently asked questions may seem straightforward, it’s crucial to prepare for potential follow-up questions. Nervousness can sometimes cause digressions, leading to unexpected inquiries from examiners in areas that may not have been anticipated.

The expectation isn’t for you to simply repeat your thesis. Examiners want to assess your understanding of the research, including its methods, analysis, findings, conclusions, implications, and other relevant aspects.

You should be ready to answer these common questions logically, despite the differences in each PhD viva.

Here are some popular PhD viva questions to prepare for:

 1. Tell me about yourself

Introduce yourself by discussing your research interests, emphasizing the areas that you feel strongly positive about. Mention your past accomplishments briefly and professionally, avoiding any tone of boasting or overwhelming the examiners.

I’m someone who’s deeply passionate about research, particularly in areas where I can make a meaningful impact. My main areas of interest revolve around [specific fields or topics], where I believe there’s immense potential for innovation and discovery. I approach research with a positive mindset, always looking for new insights and solutions to complex problems.

Throughout my academic journey, I’ve had the privilege of contributing to various research projects that have broadened my perspectives and honed my skills. These experiences have taught me the value of collaboration, critical thinking, and perseverance in the research process.

I’m particularly proud of [mention specific achievement or accomplishment], as it demonstrates my ability to navigate challenges and deliver results in a methodical and efficient manner. However, I also recognize that there’s always room for growth and learning in research, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead to further contribute to the field.

Overall, I approach research with professionalism, enthusiasm, and a commitment to excellence, and I’m eager to continue exploring new avenues of inquiry and making meaningful contributions to the academic community.

2. Why did you choose this research question?

Examiners are interested in hearing specific details about why you are interested in a research topic, including the most captivating aspect, why you chose this research question over others in the same or related field, and any instances that influenced your selection of the research topic and field. It’s essential to plan your answer with these details in mind to provide a comprehensive response.

I chose this research question because it’s really important and can make a big difference in dealing with [specific issue or gap] in [field or discipline]. After looking at different research options, I found this question to be very interesting because it could add a lot to what we already know and help solve real problems. Also, it fits well with what I’ve studied before and what I’m interested in, so I can use my skills and knowledge to explore and solve problems in this area.

3. How did you come up with the idea for this research?

In explaining how you developed your research idea, demonstrate to the viva panel that you thoroughly evaluated all potential research options before choosing the one that optimized your time and resources. Provide specifics about your decision-making process, including why certain ideas were rejected in favor of others and the insights gained from exploring each possibility. This showcases your ability to narrow down options based on factors like feasibility.

I came up with the idea for this research through [specific process or inspiration, such as literature review, personal experience, academic discussions, etc.]. This process involved evaluating various research areas and identifying gaps or opportunities that led to the formulation of the research’s idea.

4. What is your research’s main area of focus?

Keep in mind that your response should not summarize your research but instead discuss the primary focus area of your research. Crucially, to showcase the viability of your research, it’s important to highlight some of the key questions it tackles.

The primary focus area of my research revolves around [specific topic or field], addressing key questions related to [core concepts or issues] within this domain.

5. What methods will you use to evaluate the effectiveness of your research?

To showcase to the viva panel that you have effectively evaluated your research’s effectiveness, contemplate utilizing both qualitative and quantitative measures. Qualitative measures encompass surveys and various data collection techniques that enable you to delve into the fundamental causes of issues, making them suitable for understanding people’s perceptions and sentiments regarding a subject. Quantitative measures involve numerical comparisons across different time frames or locations, such as sales data, providing a comprehensive perspective on performance trends over time. Utilizing these approaches demonstrates to the panel your thorough assessment of the research’s impact.

I will use [specific methods, such as surveys, experiments, interviews, data analysis, etc.] to evaluate the effectiveness of my research. These methods are chosen based on their ability to gather relevant data, analyze findings, and draw meaningful conclusions that address the research objectives and hypotheses.

6. Did the research process proceed as planned, or did you encounter any unexpected circumstances?

The purpose of the question about project execution in a PhD viva is to assess readiness with backup plans for unforeseen situations and to evaluate if the project adhered to the structured plan. It’s important to mention if assistance was received and be prepared for follow-up questions from examiners.

My research mostly went as planned, following the timeline and methods outlined in the proposal. Yet, there were times when unexpected things happened. I had to adjust and use backup plans to deal with these situations quickly, so they didn’t disrupt my research much.

7. What is the future of your research?

When addressing the future of your research area in your viva, it’s crucial to go beyond the current state and consider upcoming developments. Simply focusing on the present might suggest a limited understanding. Instead, provide a comprehensive response by discussing your vision for the research area’s future, its connection to the present, and its significance.

The future of my research involves exploring emerging trends and advancements in [specific area or field], leveraging new technologies and methodologies to address complex challenges. I plan to collaborate with experts in related disciplines, conduct further experiments or surveys, and analyze additional datasets to deepen our understanding of [research topic]. Ultimately, I aim to contribute novel insights and practical solutions that can benefit [target audience or community] and advance the overall knowledge in this field.

8. What are some limitations of your thesis?

If you’re asked about the limitations of your thesis during your PhD viva, ensure your response is clear and concise. To prepare, consider aspects that might be perceived as limitations and address these questions:

  • Why is this considered a limitation?
  • How could it be improved or made more effective?
  • What changes could be made to the research design or data collection methods to address this?
  • Are there potential solutions or enhancements that could mitigate this issue?

Some limitations of my thesis include [specific limitations, such as sample size constraints, data availability, potential biases, etc.]. These limitations are considered because [explain why each limitation is relevant]. To improve these limitations, potential strategies could include [suggestions for improvement, such as expanding the sample size, using additional data sources, addressing biases through robust methodologies, etc.]. These enhancements aim to strengthen the overall validity and reliability of the research findings.

9. Is this work original, or have others done something similar before?

When addressing whether your work is original or if others have conducted similar research before, it’s important to distinguish between your original contributions and existing research. You can then elaborate on how you’ve built upon previous work to develop your own ideas. If there are no entirely original aspects, consider discussing aspects of your research that are not yet published but have potential for further development. This approach can provide the panel with insights into the new ideas emerging from your research.

This work is original in [specific aspects or contributions], as it builds upon existing literature and presents novel findings or approaches. While others may have explored related topics or methodologies, the unique combination of [key elements or innovations] distinguishes this research from previous efforts.

10. What benefit does this research provide to society?

When discussing the benefit of your research to society, emphasize your clear and defined goal. Articulate how your research can impact society at large and how it can be utilized or adapted by other researchers working on similar issues.

When discussing the benefit of my research to society, I emphasize a clear and defined goal. My research aims to [specific goal or objective, such as improving healthcare outcomes, addressing environmental challenges, enhancing technological advancements, etc.]. This benefit is significant as it can [describe how the research can positively impact society at large, such as improving quality of life, advancing knowledge, solving practical problems, etc.]. Additionally, my research findings can be utilized or adapted by other researchers working on similar issues, further amplifying its societal impact and relevance.

11. What are the limitations of your research design?

When discussing limitations in your research design during your viva, acknowledge that every design has its constraints. Be transparent about these limitations and explain how you mitigated or addressed them in your study. If your design was particularly good, highlight how it contributed to your results. Conversely, if aspects of your study didn’t go as planned, use this as evidence to analyze potential flaws in your hypothesis.

Some limitations of my research design include [specific limitations, such as sample size constraints, data collection methods, potential biases, etc.]. While these limitations are inherent in any research design, I took several steps to mitigate their impact. For example, I [explain strategies used to address limitations, such as ensuring diverse sample representation, using validated measurement tools, implementing data analysis techniques, etc.]. These efforts aimed to enhance the validity and reliability of my study findings despite the identified limitations.

12. How might your research have been impacted if there were more data available on your topic?

To answer this question, start off by conveying to the panel any limitations found within your research. This is because it allows you to discuss whether additional research would have either prevented or minimised this outcome. For example, you might decide to tell the panel that additional data relevant to the research topic may have been beneficial because then you could test the hypothesis again by running the same tests in other communities. Then you could see if the result was the same with a different audience. Though, this may have resulted in a changed hypothesis.

If more data were available on my research topic, it would have significantly impacted the depth of my study. Firstly, a larger dataset would have allowed for more comprehensive analyses, such as subgroup analyses and advanced statistical modeling techniques. This could have led to more robust findings and a better understanding of the nuances within the data.

Additionally, with more data points, I could have explored additional variables or factors that may influence the outcomes studied in my research. This could have provided a more holistic view of the topic and allowed for a more nuanced interpretation of the results.

Furthermore, more data availability would have increased the statistical power of my study, potentially leading to more reliable and conclusive results. It would have also allowed for a more extensive validation of findings through cross-validation exercises and sensitivity analyses.

Overall, the availability of more data would have enhanced the quality, reliability, and generalizability of my research outcomes, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.

13. Has your research challenged or changed how we think about the topic?

To address this question effectively, begin by outlining any constraints identified within your research. This approach enables a discussion on whether further research could have mitigated or avoided these limitations.

For instance, you could mention that having more relevant data on the research topic could have been advantageous. This additional data might have allowed you to retest the hypothesis across diverse communities, potentially leading to variations in results. However, it’s important to note that this could have also led to modifications in the hypothesis itself.

My research has challenged existing perceptions by uncovering previously unexplored facets of the topic. Specifically, I focused on [mention specific concept or theory] and conducted [briefly describe your study]. The results revealed [key findings or insights], which have prompted a reevaluation of [mention the paradigm or conventional understanding]. This shift in perspective has significant implications for [explain the broader impact on the field or applications of the research]. Overall, my research has contributed to a nuanced understanding of the topic and has initiated discussions on revising established frameworks in the academic discourse.

14. Do you think other researchers could replicate the results of your study?

The viva panel considers if other researchers can duplicate your findings to determine the credibility of your research within the field. To address this, consider the distinctiveness of your study compared to previous ones. If you identify unique aspects, explain how they facilitate easier replication by other researchers.

Yes, I believe other researchers would be able to replicate my results. The methodology used in my study is well-documented and follows established protocols, ensuring clarity and consistency in data collection and analysis. Additionally, the unique aspects of my research are clearly outlined, making it easier for others to understand and replicate key elements. Sharing relevant data and resources further enhances the feasibility of replication and promotes transparency in the research process.

15. Could there be other explanations for the results of your research?

This question is a method for the viva examiners to assess your ability to critically evaluate your own research. Begin by conducting a thorough review of the existing literature to identify any alternative explanations for your research findings. If such alternative explanations exist, explain them in detail. On the other hand, if there are no alternative explanations or they are not relevant to your findings, clarify why this is the case. It’s crucial to demonstrate consideration for these alternative perspectives as they contribute to the overall understanding of why your findings are significant.

In my research, I thoroughly examined the existing literature to explore potential alternative explanations for the findings. While there were some theories suggesting alternative interpretations, such as [mention specific theories], further analysis and empirical evidence indicated that these explanations were not as substantiated or relevant to my study’s context.

For instance, [provide an example or detail about why alternative explanations were not applicable]. This analysis supports the robustness and specificity of my findings, as they align with established theories and empirical evidence within the field.

Overall, my research process involved a critical evaluation of potential alternative explanations, ensuring that the conclusions drawn are well-supported and contribute meaningfully to the existing body of knowledge on the topic.

16. Given your research findings, what would be an appropriate course of action for another researcher to pursue in this field?

Consider the type of research you’re conducting as you address this question. Review your completed research and its conclusions to assess their alignment with the hypothesis. Identify any gaps in your research, explain their presence and significance, and discuss what they indicate. Utilize these gaps as a basis for further investigation, outlining your next steps as a student exploring these areas of study.

Based on the findings of my research, a suitable next step for other researchers in this area would be to conduct further investigations into [specific aspect or aspect]. This could involve [suggest a research direction or methodology], which would help to [describe the potential contribution or impact]. Additionally, exploring [related topic or factor] could provide valuable insights into [describe potential outcomes or implications]. Overall, building upon this research could lead to a deeper understanding of [topic or field], benefiting both academia and practical applications.

17. Summarize your thesis.

Familiarize yourself with the entire project, beginning with the rationale behind selecting your thesis topic and concluding with an optimal solution to the problem. Prepare for three types of responses: a 1-minute, 3-5 minutes, and 10-minute summary. Tailor your answer based on the audience’s expectations at the viva.

For the 1-minute summary:

“I chose the topic of my thesis because it addresses a critical gap in the literature and has significant relevance in [specific field]. The problem at hand is [briefly describe the problem]. Through extensive research, I identified key areas for investigation, including [mention key areas]. The optimum solution to this problem involves [briefly outline the solution or approach].”

For the 3-5 minutes summary:

“My thesis topic was carefully selected due to its relevance in [specific field]. The problem I aimed to address is [provide a brief overview of the problem]. This topic intrigued me because [explain why it interested you]. Through thorough research and analysis, I identified several key areas that required exploration, including [list key areas]. The optimal solution to this problem involves [describe the solution or approach in more detail, including any methodologies used].”

For the 10-minute summary:

“The topic of my thesis was chosen based on its critical importance in [specific field]. The problem I sought to tackle is [provide a comprehensive overview of the problem, including its significance]. I was drawn to this topic because [explain your personal interest or motivation]. To address this problem effectively, I conducted extensive literature reviews, data collection, and analysis, focusing on key areas such as [list key areas]. The optimal solution I propose involves [describe the solution or approach in detail, including any innovative methodologies or findings]. This solution not only addresses the immediate problem but also has broader implications for [mention broader implications or potential applications].”

18. What are the research’s strengths and weaknesses?

When discussing your research during a viva examination, it’s important to highlight both its strengths and weaknesses. Begin by emphasizing the strengths and how they connect with key findings, showcasing the robustness of your research. Then, address the limitations and discuss potential strategies to transform them into strengths in future research endeavors. This approach demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of your research and your ability to critically evaluate and improve upon its weaknesses.

The strength of my research lies in its comprehensive analysis of [specific aspect], which has led to significant insights into [key findings or contributions]. This strength is further bolstered by [mention additional strengths, such as methodology, data collection, etc.].

On the other hand, a potential weakness of my research is [identify a weakness, such as sample size limitations, data availability, etc.]. However, this limitation has provided opportunities for future research to explore [potential areas of improvement or expansion].

Overall, the strength of my research lies in its [highlight key strengths], while the weakness serves as a stepping stone for further advancements in the field.

Other articles

Please read through some of our other articles with examples and explanations if you’d like to learn more.

  • PLS-SEM model
  • Principal Components Analysis
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Friedman Test
  • Chi-Square Test (Χ²)
  • Effect Size
  • Critical Values in Statistics
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Calculate the Sample Size for Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Covariate in Statistics
  • Avoid Common Mistakes in Statistics
  • Standard Deviation
  • Derivatives & Formulas
  • Build a PLS-SEM model using AMOS
  • Principal Components Analysis using SPSS
  • Statistical Tools
  • Type I vs Type II error
  • Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
  • Microsoft Excel and SPSS
  • One-tailed and Two-tailed Test
  • Parametric and Non-Parametric Test

Citation Styles

  • APA Reference Page
  • MLA Citations
  • Chicago Style Format
  • “et al.” in APA, MLA, and Chicago Style
  • Do All References in a Reference List Need to Be Cited in Text?

Comparision

  • Independent vs. Dependent Variable – MIM Learnovate
  • Research Article and Research Paper
  • Proposition and Hypothesis
  • Principal Component Analysis and Partial Least Squares
  • Academic Research vs Industry Research
  • Clinical Research vs Lab Research
  • Research Lab and Hospital Lab
  • Thesis Statement and Research Question
  • Quantitative Researchers vs. Quantitative Traders
  • Premise, Hypothesis and Supposition
  • Survey Vs Experiment
  • Hypothesis and Theory
  • Independent vs. Dependent Variable
  • APA vs. MLA
  • Ghost Authorship vs. Gift Authorship
  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Cross-Sectional vs Longitudinal Studies
  • Survey vs Questionnaire
  • Open Ended vs Closed Ended Questions
  • Experimental and Non-Experimental Research
  • Inductive vs Deductive Approach
  • Null and Alternative Hypothesis
  • Reliability vs Validity
  • Population vs Sample
  • Conceptual Framework and Theoretical Framework
  • Bibliography and Reference
  • Stratified vs Cluster Sampling
  • Sampling Error vs Sampling Bias
  • Internal Validity vs External Validity
  • Full-Scale, Laboratory-Scale and Pilot-Scale Studies
  • Plagiarism and Paraphrasing
  • Research Methodology Vs. Research Method
  • Mediator and Moderator
  •   Dissertation Topic
  • Thesis Statement
  • Research Proposal
  • Research Questions
  • Research Problem
  • Research Gap
  • Types of Research Gaps
  • Operationalization of Variables
  • Literature Review
  • Research Hypothesis
  • Questionnaire
  • Reliability
  • Measurement of Scale
  • Sampling Techniques
  • Acknowledgements
  • Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Case Study Research
  • Survey Research
  • Conclusive Research
  • Descriptive Research
  • Cross-Sectional Research
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Conceptual Framework
  • Triangulation
  • Grounded Theory
  • Quasi-Experimental Design
  • Mixed Method
  • Correlational Research
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Stratified Sampling
  • Ethnography
  • Ghost Authorship
  • Secondary Data Collection
  • Primary Data Collection
  • Ex-Post-Facto

how long are phd vivas

Misbah Rashid, an expert in Technology Management, holds an MBA and an MS in Information Systems and Technology Management. She has experience teaching marketing and technology in business at the university level.

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COMMENTS

  1. PhD Viva Voces

    A viva voce, more commonly referred to as 'viva', is an oral examination conducted at the end of your PhD and is essentially the final hurdle on the path to a doctorate. It is the period in which a student's knowledge and work are evaluated by independent examiners. In order to assess the student and their work around their research ...

  2. What is the PhD Viva?

    The viva voce is the final assessment for a PhD. It is an oral examination where the student defends their research to two academic examiners. This involves answering questions about your work, typically related to the literature, methodology, your findings and the significance of your conclusions. In some countries (like the USA) the viva is ...

  3. PDF A Guide for Viva Preparation

    The viva voce, shortened to viva, is an oral examination where you are expected to 'defend' your thesis, and the quality of your research will be assessed. The viva will take place usually within 3 months of submitting your thesis; it is a required examination in order to achieve a postgraduate research degree.

  4. Vivas

    HOW long is a viva? There is no formal time limit. A viva can last between 1 and 2 hours but can sometimes event take 3 hours. ... Once you have passed your PhD viva, you cannot officially use the title 'Dr' until you receive official documentation from your university stating that you are a 'Doctor'.

  5. 5 tips for passing your PhD viva

    It's a focused discussion giving you the opportunity to present your PhD thesis and then defend it in front of a panel of academic experts. 1. Understand what's expected of you. Traditionally, your thesis would always be discussed in person, with the interview style viva exam overseen by at least two (internal and external) examiners.

  6. Viva examinations: guidance

    It may take place at UCL, or remotely. Your examiners should have your thesis at least six working weeks before the viva and you will receive an email once the thesis has been sent to the examiners. At this point, you will be able to record the viva via the 'Research Student Administration' section in Portico.

  7. What is a PhD Viva?

    A PhD viva also referred to as a Viva Voce, Latin for 'living voice', is an oral examination which follows the submission of your doctoral thesis, where you will showcase your knowledge and defend your research in front of a panel comprised of academic experts. This examination is compulsory for the vast majority of doctoral students.

  8. PDF PhD Viva Guide

    WELCOME PURPOSE OF THE VIVA 1 The viva voce, which translates from Latin as living voice (Rugg and Petre, 2004), represents the culmination of the doctoral experience. The viva, also referred to as the oral defence or the oral examination, is a long-standing

  9. The Viva

    The Graduate School has put together a complete online resource Passing your Viva, including information on the processes involved, and videos on both a student perspective and an examiner's perspective. If you want to request a remote Viva, you should read the Guidance for Students on the Modality of Final Thesis Research Degree Vivas .

  10. What is a PhD Viva Like? Sharing Graduates' Experiences

    How long did my PhD viva last? All in all it was about five and a half hours. This was much longer than I anticipated. When we scheduled the viva to start at 10am I naively expected us to be finished by lunch. Admittedly the examiners did suggest stopping for a break at lunch time but again I naively thought we'd be done shortly afterwards ...

  11. PhD Viva: What it is and How to Prepare

    The official name for a PhD Viva is Viva Voce, which is Latin for living voice. It is an oral examination, comprising 20% towards the evaluation of a doctoral degree. The other 80% of the doctoral degree is allocated to the research work. Both are compulsory components of any Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme.

  12. Defending your doctoral thesis: the PhD viva

    Once you have submitted your thesis you will be invited to defend your doctorate at a 'viva voce' (Latin for 'by live voice') or oral examination. The thesis defence can be a daunting prospect, but many people really enjoy this experience of discussing their PhD research with genuinely interested experts. It can also be a useful networking ...

  13. The oral examination (viva)

    There is no set duration, but a viva will normally last between 90 minutes and three hours. You may be required to do a presentation - please check with your Department whether this is the case. If you are required to give a presentation, you should be informed at least two weeks in advance of the viva. The viva cannot be recorded.

  14. News, sport and opinion from the Guardian's US edition

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  15. Preparing for a PhD Viva

    The viva voce gathering is conducted to fulfill the requirement of the award of PhD. We can consider it as a final stage or kind of examination of a PhD student . So obviously you have to prepare well. The viva is of two different kinds in context to PhD, open viva session and close viva session.

  16. How to structure your viva presentation (with examples)

    A very traditional viva presentation structure simply follows the structure of the PhD thesis. This means that the viva presentation covers all parts of the thesis, including an introduction, the literature review, the methodology, results, conclusions, etcetera. Example of a traditional viva presentation structure.

  17. The PhD oral (viva)

    You will defend your thesis (your idea) and clarify any uncertainties. A PhD oral rarely lasts for less than 2hrs, but may be considerably longer. In some cases, the Degree Committee may appoint an Independent Chair to oversee the oral. You will be notified if this is the case.

  18. Top 12 Potential PhD Viva Questions and How to Answer Them

    Examiners are interested in knowing your understanding of the research, its methods, analysis and findings, conclusion and implications, etc. Despite the differences in every PhD viva, you must be prepared to answer these common questions logically. Below are some popular PhD viva questions to prepare: 1. Tell me about yourself.

  19. How the viva process works

    The viva is a long-established part of the examination process for a research degree. The main focus of the assessment is on the written thesis/dissertation (and other outputs, for a Practice as Research students). However, the viva, which is the oral part of the assessment, is used to inform the examiners' final assessment decision. The viva ...

  20. A guide to answering PhD viva questions (with examples)

    The PhD viva is an oral examination conducted by a panel that takes place as part of the PhD defence. The panel asks a PhD student questions about their research project and thesis, which requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge in the subject area and understanding of how it applies to their project's topic.

  21. Top 18 PhD Viva Questions

    Master your PhD viva with expert tips on handling the top 18 viva questions effectively. Get ready to ace your defense! Close Menu. Facebook YouTube. Friday, May 17. ... How Long Does it Take for PhD in USA? | Structure. March 4, 2024. PhD. 20 Tips for Completing Your PhD in 36 Months. December 31, 2023. PhD. Resources for PhD Literature Review.

  22. Shortest & Longest PhD Vivas on PostgraduateForum.com

    In our institute the norm is 3 to 4 hours. I will have my viva in less than a week and officially booked for 4 hours but it can last longer. The longest I saw lasted 6 hours + lunch break. But vivas of 5 hours are not so uncommon here. The length is not related with the quality of the thesis and the outcome of the viva.

  23. Carlsquare: Research update Viva Wine Group, Q1 2024: Solid cost

    Carlsquare Equity Research has published a research update on Viva Wine Group after the Q1 2024 report.Read the full research update here. ... Research update Viva Wine Group, Q1 2024: Solid cost control improves long-term outlook. May 20, 2024 05:57 UTC. Carlsquare Equity Research has published a research update on Viva Wine Group after the Q1 ...

  24. New developer confirmed for Silver Spring's long-stalled Viva White Oak

    The huge project, which could weigh in at 12 million square feet, has stalled for more than a decade. One of Maryland's most prolific developers confirmed it will break ground in 2025 on Viva ...

  25. Taquería El Califa de León is first Mexico taco stand to get Michelin

    Every day on a bustling street in Mexico City's San Rafael neighborhood, a grill is fired up to reach a sizzling 300 degrees. Hungry customers line up and place orders for the stand's famous ...