Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Vivas and other scary things

At the last researchers' discussion, a request was made for reports from the frontline - i.e. - could people who have just had a viva tell others for whom it is still a future hurdle, what sort of questions they were asked and what sort difficulties they encountered.

James Wallace (who contributed to this blog recently) had just successfully passed his upgrade viva (congratulations!) and made the following points:

"People need to be made aware that the whole point of the exercise is that the examiner is wanting to find ways of proving how good you are, rather than trying to cause problems. It's not a case of trick questions - if something is asked that seems straightforward, it probably is, although no-one will object if you take a little time to think things through. 

"In my case, the questions were based on discussion points from my own text, so making sure you familiarise yourself with your work before the day is a good idea."

Following the session however, we decided to try putting the following questions to students who have just completed their viva.  Hopefully they'll yield some interesting answers.
  1. What is the title of your thesis?
  2. Can you provide an abstract (for inclusion in this blog)?
  3. How did you prepare for your viva?
  4. How long did your viva take?
  5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
  6. Did the examiners concentrate on any particular section of your thesis?  If so, which?
  7. Can you describe any part of your viva where you were pleased with your performance?
  8. What was it you did that pleased you?
  9. Can you describe any part of your viva where you were dissatisfied with your performance?
  10. What was it you did that dissatisfied you?
  11. Please give an example of a question that you found hard.
  12. Why was it hard?
  13. What was the outcome of your viva?
  14. Please give some examples of the sort of corrections you need to make (if any).
  15. Were they classed as minor or major?
  16. Do you have any tips for looking and feeling confident in front of the examiners?
  17. Can you think of any good advice that you would give to students who are preparing for their viva?

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