Rapid advice needed on Viva


Hi all,

I am due to have my viva (very soon) and need to find out your thoughts on umpires/invigilator/fair play people as part of the viva process. I can't see any reason why I should have one there to ensure that the viva process is completed fairly and everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, does anyone have any experience with this? I can't see any disadvantge of this other person being part of the process, or am I missing something?

Thanks all


I was told that only real advantage of having your supervisor present is that you can monitor their body language out of the corner of your eye when you answer questions: if they nod and smile then keep talking, but if they cringe, flinch, or start crying, then best rethink what you are saying.

On balance, best for your supervisor to attend if possible.


I'm not sure I quite understand the question to be honest. Are you saying you have the option of having an extra person there just to keep watch and ensure the process is fair? If this is the case, then I don't see any reason why you wouldn't have someone there, if they are not participating in the viva at all then it makes sense to have them as backup just in case you ever felt you were unfairly treated.

For my viva I had the external examiner and the internal examiner present, and no one else. I was never given the choice of having any additional people there. The role of the internal examiner (i.e. someone I knew from the university but that was not involved in my research) was really to make sure due process was followed, and he didn't really say much in the viva as it is the role of the external to ask all the questions. Internal was only there to move things along if we seemed to be getting bogged down in one particular question. I wasn't given the option of having my supervisor there, and if I was I would have said no as that would have made me infinitely more nervous.


For my viva, my head of department sit through the process himself, to make sure "I am treated nicely". I do think he brought me some advantages, but I'm not sure if it is only my feeling.

They did not let me choose to have him sit in or not,on the day of my viva the head of department just told me "I will be there to make sure they are kind to you, otherwise I will punch them in the face". Haha!!

Usually supervisors are not allowed in the viva? At least in my university it is not possible to have your supervisor there.


Thanks all, yes the additional person I am refering to is not the supervisor, he/she is someone who is not involved in the process, just making notes on the process of the viva, but is not allowed to interfere.

I was under the assumption that my supervisor would not be there, I best find this out. Not sure if I would prefer my supervisor to be there or not though? Guess that has more pros than cons.


Are there universities that don't allow supervisors to attend the viva? As far as I know the only problem with them attending is if they don't notify the examiners in advance, but even then I think this is a formality rather than a strict rule. I can see that not everyone would want their examiner to attend, but I suspect from this discussion that lots of people don't know they have this option, and might opt for it if they realised that they could. Interesting.


At my uni we had an impartial chair at the viva. I had no choice in this and I only knew they would be there a couple of days in advance when they emailed me. They were supportive before hand giving me their phone number and asking to ring if I had any problems. This may have been because we had to travel to London for my viva because my external couldn't get to me. (It was good they did as my viva was in a part of the hospital with card access and no one had explained how I should get in!)

Anyway during the process they didn't say anything other than to introduce everyone at the start. She was a friendly face to glance at as she sat there looking interested and smiling and nodding as I answered stuff. At the end of the viva she asked if I thought the process had been fair and filled in a form.

Personally I think it was good having her there. I had no problems with my viva, but I ca imagine if there are disputes it's good to have someone impartial there.


hi Roton10, I was told by my supervisor that there will be a "chair" person in my (coming) viva and this person does as you say, umpire/fair play.

The university says I can invite my supervisor to attend my viva as well, which I think is a good idea. I know she can't do anything when I answer questions--but if she is there, she can help explain things in case I don't understand what the examiner is asking (the university told me this) or doing recommendations of stuff the examiner wants me to do, this is where the supervisor is helpful. Other things like body language etc. this is helpful too.

The best thing I like about my coming viva is that there is no public audience. I had this during masters defence--and it was awful!

Wishing you all the best in your viva
love satchi


In my case I didn't have anybody: it was just me and the internal and external examiners. I don't think it makes any difference since the supervisor/invigilator obviously cannot do much during the viva. In fact, my theory is that you approach the viva with confidence in your work without anyone being there it psychologically leaves an impression on the examiners. I passed with minor corrections and now I think my ability to retort and respond to their questions played a significant part. My viva by the way lasted 2 hours so it was gruelling.