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Guidelines for Ph.D. viva voce

What is Ph.D. viva?

A viva or viva voce is an oral examination in front of a panel of specialists who pose questions regarding your dissertation or thesis. It is conducted at the end of your Ph.D. and is essentially the final hurdle on the path to a doctorate. This session also allows students to highlight areas of their work that are not written in the dissertation.

Before Viva 

The preparations are:

  • You should understand the whole process of your thesis. You should prepare yourself until you get familiar with the section, and subsection in the thesis.
  • The most important thing is that you are aware of your examiner’s area of interest and their work. They might have written several papers related to your project.
  • You should be ready for both best and worst-case scenarios. You should be able to answer the question like- what did you do? What is the outcome?
  • Arrange a mock viva, This gives you a better picture of how you will respond under pressure because a certain degree of stress is always there, and also their feedback will help you for preparation.
  • The last thing is you may want to revisit the thesis entirely. For making it easier you can highlight the important text and you can go through it.
  •  Make sure that you get everything prepared before attending viva example -thesis copy, your presentation, and other required things you needed
  • You must have confidence that you can do it well and at the same time you must

During viva presentation

  The duration of viva is about 1-3 hours 

  • The most important thing is you should be confident about your work.
  • Introduce yourself and get off with a good start and explain the presentation.
  •  You should focus more on the positive impacts of the research and show a critical analysis of your own work and of that of others.
  • The “contribution to knowledge” is one of the most essential things that the examiners will look for in your thesis. It is your contribution that elevates your work to the Ph.D. level. Make certain that you understand your contribution and that you can articulate and convey it clearly and concisely.
  • Avoid shooting yourself in the foot by focusing on the thesis weak points by being overly humble or by stating what you “failed to achieve” or “did not manage to carry out in a thorough manner”.
  • Listen carefully before answering the question asked by the examiner.
  • Good communication is the key here. Don’t rush anything while explaining the presentation.

What happens after viva?

The viva committee meets to discuss their verdict this may take from a few minutes up to one hour

  • The result is based on five possible  outcomes :
  • PASS without modification.
  • PASS with minor changes and to be resubmitted to the Internal examiner.
  • PASS with minor changes and to be resubmitted to both Internal and external examiners.
  • PASS with major changes and to be resubmitted to the Internal examiner.
  • PASS with major changes and to be resubmitted to both Internal and External examiners.

Some of the common questions asked during the viva

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your research?
  2. How well did the study design work?
  3. Tell me about yourself and your research.
  4. What is the key focus of your research?
  5. What original contribution has your thesis made to this field of study?
  6. Can you Summarize your thesis?
  7. How has your view of your research topic changed?
  8. Which of these findings are the most interesting to you? Why?
  9. You propose future research, How would you start this?
  10.  What is the idea that binds your thesis together?

Sources:

How to prepare for your viva: 8 useful tips

Top 40 Potential Viva Questions

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