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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ten tips to help you pass your PhD viva | Times Higher Education

Kevin D. 
O'Gorman
Heriot-Watt University professor Kevin O’Gorman, Management and Business History offers some advice to those preparing for their viva voce. 
 

  1. It is a test to prove that you have written your own thesis. So, if you have written it yourself, and your supervisor feels that both the thesis and you are ready for examination, then you really should have nothing to worry about.
  2. It is an ‘open book’ exam. The viva is not a test of memory; you can bring stuff into the exam, and really you can bring anything you want into the exam – within reason! Of course, bring a copy of your thesis! You can stick yellow ‘Post-it’ notes on it (eg, anticipated questions and answers), although personally I hated the idea of that, and I just used the Table of Contents; however, it works well for some people…do what makes you comfortable.
  3. Your examiners want to pass you. Don’t expect an easy ride, but don’t expect some kind of medieval hand-to-hand combat. You will be very nervous for the first couple of questions. This is normal, your examiners know that, and they should ask you some questions to relax you and settle you into your exam.
  4. Follow the normal rules of conversation. Don’t interrupt your examiners; let them finish their questions before starting to answer. However, do not worry about respectfully disagreeing with them, either. It should be an open, frank, honest and polite conversation. Keep referring your examiners to your written work. Don’t try to memorise everything, as mentioned above, they also want to make sure that you’ve written your own thesis. So just make sure that you know where all the key sections of your thesis are.
  5. It normally lasts two hours. However, it could range from 90 minutes to four hours – so, like every other exam you have ever sat at university, pace yourself and don’t rush into a poorly conceived or considered answer. When you are asked a question, write it down. This will give you a minute or so, and also don’t worry about bullet-pointing answers. You probably have a list of anticipated viva questions and your answers; you can bring them in and refer to them if you like.
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Source: Times Higher Education (THE)


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