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Dissertation / Thesis Research and Writing: 5. Oral defense

Guide to help students in researching and writing their thesis/dissertation

Oral defense / viva

An oral defense or viva is an oral examination in which a student defends his/her thesis to an audience of experts as part of the requirement for his/her degree.

Practical Tips

How to survive a PhD viva : 17 Top Tips (2015)

Rebecca Ratcliffe from Guardian asked a number of academics and recent survivors for their tips:

  1. Check your institution’s policies and practices
  2. Re-read your thesis – and keep up-to-date with research
  3. As an examiner, you tend to stick to things you’re an expert in when driving the questioning
  4. Think about what you will or won’t defend
  5. Draw up lists of possible questions – especially ones you dread
  6. It’s not like sitting at a laptop where you can edit a sentence as you go along
  7. Bring a printed copy that is exactly the same as that of your examiners
  8. Get off to a good start
  9. Prepare for the icebreaker
  10. Silence doesn’t mean bad news
  11. Don’t point out your own weaknesses
  12. Don’t talk like a politician
  13. You may need to move from friendly questions to complex debates
  14. If things get on top of you, use the excuse of having a look at the thesis
  15. Focus on your contribution
  16. Expect your viva to last between one and three hours
  17. Enjoy it

Thesis Defense Parody

More Survival Tips

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