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Tips for PhD Examination (Viva Voce)


PhD examination (a.k.a. Viva Voce) has been perceived as the decisive event for the successful of the candidate. However, I believe that there is not thing much to prepare if you have throughly know your thesis inside out. However, the candidate may need know to manage their nerve and excitement during the exam. When I was preparing for my viva (on yesterday), which I passed with a minor correction category, I have been consulted some suggestions online, which I found very useful. At least they give your some senses of what will be going on. After my viva I have 5 top tips for the candidates who are preparing for the time of their (PhD) life. Here they are.

  1. Working out your attitude
    phd031005sAiming to thrive not just to survive. Make an impression to the examiners that you deserve a doctorate degree!
  2. Assuming you are  an examiner
    (re)Read your thesis as if your were an examiners or an reviewer. Put yourself on their shoes, then you will get an idea how they might assess you.
  3. Having a mock viva
    To excel in almost anything, we need to practice, practice and practice. It’s the same with exam and the viva voce. It’s great to have a mock viva with at least with your supervisors or PhD fellows. Pick those who are similar to your examiners in terms of research approaches.
  4. Practicing mindfulness
    phd030905sI cope with such an intense and important discussions in the viva, we need to be mindfulness. This will help us understand the questions and answer it better. Meditation is a good way to practice mindfulness. You can do it by just sit on your chair in the office and close your eyes. Then watch your breath and thought. Knowing what you are doing.
  5. Having a good Viva Voce eve night
    The day before the viva is about body preparation. You have to go to the viva with the fresh understanding of your thesis and fresh mind and health. The dinner of the viva eve and the breakfast of the viva day as well as the lunch if your viva will start in the afternoon. Have a good and enough foods. Medicine rarely helps but a good sleep and good food will.

Special Tips

While you are reading your thesis or several suggestions and tips for PhD viva I provided at the end of this post, you may listen to this soundtrack of my favourite movie “A Beautiful Mind”

Mock Viva at Cardiff University

This mock viva includes the following cast of Academic Staff:

  • Professor Paul Atkinson (Presenter)
  • Dr Sara Delamont (Candidate for Viva)
  • Dr David Mills (External Examiner)
  • Professor Teresa Rees (Chair)
  • Dr Sally Holland (Internal Examiner)
  • Dr Maggie Gregory (Supervisor)

External resources

  1. Dr Jill’s top ten viva tips (pass your PhD oral exam)
  2.’s Ten Tips for getting through your PhD Viva
  3. Warwick’s Tips for dealing with the Ph.D. viva
  4. Dr. Sustainable’s 10 PhD Viva Survival Tips
  5. Dr. Andrew Broad’s Preparing for the Viva
  6. { random thoughts }’s phd viva: preparing for the research viva
  7. The Guardian’s Survive your viva
  8. Sciencecareer’s The PhD Viva: Thrive or Survive
  9.’s PhD Viva
  10. De-mystifying & Preparing for the Doctoral Viva
  11.’s Tips and advice for the PhD oral examination/viva
  12. The final hurdle: getting through the PhD viva
  13. In the dark? Preparing for the PhD viva
  14. Tips on how to prepare for a viva
  15. Taking the viva in your stride
  16. Preparing for PhD viva voce: a personal reflection by David Twigg
  17. LSE’s resources for Preparing for and handling the viva
    Presentation (PowerPoint)
    Top ten viva questions (Word)
    Viva advice from a recent LSE graduate (PowerPoint)
  18. University of Leicester’s Preparing for your viva
  19. The Independent’s How to shine at your viva
  20. David Denyer’s Typical questions asked in a PhD viva
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Xun Wang #

    Congratulations Dr. Champ! These tips are very helpful!

    January 15, 2013
    • You’re welcome, Paul.
      Best wishes for your PhD. 🙂

      January 17, 2013
  2. supara #

    It is a time that I need to use your trip for my viva lawe la.

    January 28, 2014

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