Post Viva, confused. Help.


Hello everyone.

I just had my viva on tuesday, during which my head went blank and essentially I rambled on for 2 hours. When I went back in again they told me they had all enjoyed my thesis, were really pleased with the new research, thought it was relatively ground breaking in the area as it hadn't been done before. They then suggested some things which they thought would make it better. It is very multidisciplinary so I had to make some harsh judgements about which areas I was going to be looking at and which areas I wasnt.

So they suggested some more areas which they thought would make the thesis better ready for a book publication (thats what they said). My chair said that they thought the corrections could be done between 3 months and up to a year although they thought it wouldnt take that long.

My supervisor was in the room at the time and he asked the examiners that surely I wouldn't be needing another viva then. The external said no, the internal said she didn't know she supposed it would have to take it into consideration.

Maybe I should have paid more attention but I was a bit rabbit in headlights at the time. When we left my supervisor said 'so are you disappointed then?' and there was a lot of sympathetic faces all round.

This might sound mad but Im not really sure what this means, I know I didn't get my PhD but some people say that you have in a way passed, because you do the revisions your examiners have set out then show it to them for their approval. And some people call this a fail and say that you have to do the changes and resubmit your thesis again because they haven't passed it and you have to go through the whole procedure again.

Anyone any thoughts. I dont know what to feel really. My supervisor has been really quiet since. I know all unis are different but Im confused.


Sorry for the confusion. But I think you need to email your supervisor to clarify things.

At my university what you describe sounds like a referral/resubmission, where a student is given up to a year to fix problems, then has to resubmit, though may not need a second viva.

So it's not a pass, but a second chance. That might be what happened to you, but your university could have a different system, so you really need to talk to your supervisor.

On the plus side people can get through this process. One person on this forum recently did, and I know two people in my department who did too. It is sort of like a pass subject to corrections in that you're given a list of the short-falls, and basically if you do them you should come out with a PhD. But the corrections are more substantial than a pass with corrections, if that makes sense.

But speak to your supervisor about this properly. Arrange a meeting ASAP. Or even email.

Good luck!


Thank you,

i feel very disappointed like I have wasted my time for 3 years. I worked really hard for my viva, possibly too hard hence the exhausted blank brain. Im going through a 'whats the point' phase. I don't even want to tell people how I did and I feel very ashamed about it. I just wish I could close the door and leave it all there. I don't know I just feel like maybe people in the department will be laughing at me or something.


I agree, you need to urgently get clarification. I can't decide whether you have major corrections or a full resubmission. I would ask the internal supervisor to say specifically what was recommended, even before you get the official report (which can take a few weeks to come).


Based on what I've read in the past, and the experience of people I know, I think your reaction is very understandable. But people can get through this, and have a successful outcome.

As DanB said you should seek urgent clarification, but I'd also recommend you give yourself time to accept what's going on. Maybe chatting to a university counsellor would help with the emotional side?

You won't get the examiners' report for a little while anyway, so wouldn't be able to start on the requested changes until then. So allow yourself some breathing space.

And try to keep hopeful if you can. It's disappointing, but isn't the end of the road.


I know that that is very true. I suppose when you've spent 3 years working toward it it is disappointing. Its just put me off the whole thing,and people who knew about it, well I dont know what to tell them...


I wouldn't be so annoyed if I hadn't worked so hard. I suppose its just gutting when you really work yourself ragged and still dont do well. ah well!


I haven't been through this yet, but I would say to you that you haven't done badly - they are talking about your thesis being ready for a book publication after these corrections and that they enjoyed your work - that's not bad, that's having done well, but that they just want to see that little bit more.
I can totally understand how you are feeling, I too would be completely gutted, but you aren't alone, as has been said, others here have been through this and are now Drs and you will be too - please don't put yourself and your work down, it sounds like its really really good, just could be that bit better if you include these suggestions.
Please get clarification asap to put your mind at rest - it must be awful to have to do yet more - but these 3 years are far from wasted, another little bit and you would be ready to be published!


I know it's hard not to feel disappointed but until you see the official list of requirements, you may be beating yourself up too much unncessarily. Go and see the internal examiner tomorrow if you can and ask what the examiners report will say, there's no reason they couldn't tell you. Hopefully it might set your mind at rest a bit too if you know exactly what the situation is and hence what you need to do.


Phdstress, your experience sounds fairly typical of an internal examiner trying to make a name for herself in the department; I bet it was someone who has only recently been made a lecturer. I would have thought it pretty unlikely you would have a second viva if the external examiner has not demanded one, as he would have to take the time to travel to your university again.

Presuming that you aren't given a second viva, you can consider yourself to have passed, but with more considerable corrections than you would have liked; however, as someone who went through two vivas, I can assure you that the second isn't as bad as the first.

The last thing I would say is that you will have to be wary of your internal examiner whilst trying to get the corrections written up, as she could be very awkward. I have known of several internals who have deliberately tried to slow students down to a crawl, or have tried to introduce extra corrections at a later date.

If you start to hit a lot of problems, go to your university's students union and ask to see their welfare adviser (they should have one to help with students who are having academic problems). You can also ask your supervisor to contact your Head of Department to highlight your internal examiners unreasonable behaviour; the HOD may then have a quiet word with them.


======= Date Modified 04 Jun 2010 13:06:03 =======
Phdstress, my university's regulations booklet for PhD students specifies the exact catergories of:
1) Pass - no corrections
2) Pass - IF minor editorial corrections are corrected to the satisfaction of the examiners (maximum 3 months to resubmit)
3) Pass - IF minor deficiencies are corrected to the satisfaction of the examiners (maximum 6 months to resubmit; and possibly, depending on what examiner's recommend, another viva)
4) Fail
5) Examiners recommend student for MPhil

Note that these catergories vary according to each institution! So you need to find out how your institution classifies the different outcomes of vivas.

Get hold of your university's regulations for PhD students, read it thoroughly, then go to see the person responsible for communicating this outcome to you (in my uni this is the person who chaired the viva, but in other uni's it might be another person. Again, your university's regulations should clearly state who's responsibility it is to communicate this to you) and ask them to tell you which specific catergory you fall into, how long exactly do you have to resubmit, and did the examiners finally decide that you will, or will not, require another viva. Get this confirmed in writing - even if it means that after the meeting and the verbal communication that you follow this with an email to that person, detailing the minutes of your meeting, and what they advised you. Otherwise, just drop them an email stating all the possible catergories, and asking them to confirm to you which one exactly you fall under.


You need to contact your supervisor (like, yesterday?), instead of relying on a bunch of strangers on the Internet who do not know your university's policies or your situation. Good luck!