Upcoming viva, nightmare supervisor


Hi everyone,

My viva is coming up in a couple of weeks, but my supervisor has been extremely negative about my write-up since I submitted.
He says it is too short and there is not a clear overall message. He also berated me for not getting my chapters to him quickly enough (to be fair it took me a month at a time but I was applying for jobs/working full-time simultaneously). However he has said that I have sufficient results to be awarded a PhD, it's just the write-up that's the problem.
Its completely terrified and demotivated me (which I shouldn't be surprised by because he has been awful to work for), but was wondering if anyone else has been in this situation, and if they did end up passing in the end?
Or any tips on how to defend a short thesis!?

Thanks x


This sounds like he's trying to prepare you for a tough viva and the possibility that the examiners will want some additional work done in terms of corrections. If you have a borderline thesis, then the viva becomes really important; if you can defend well, then things can turn out better than expected. From what he's saying, you need to clarify in your own mind what the thesis' contribution to knowledge is, what your key findings are and where they fit into the wider field, so that you can articulate that clearly to the examiners. Has he told you what he thinks is missing from the thesis? If so, you could prepare a series of answers that say for example where finding x fits into the contextual literature, if it's the background materiel you have left out. If you can get someone to do a mock viva with you, then do it.
You may think he's scaring you and demotivating you to be nasty, but honestly it's when students are not told what the potential problems are, and go into the viva (sometimes too confidently) thinking everything is fine, that nasty messes tend to happen. At least you know he thinks there are weaknesses and what they are, so you have the opportunity to work out how best to defend them.


Thanks for your advice bewildered. I agree that is probably what he is trying to do and I am just trying to get as prepared as possible. I assumed it was going to be tough anyway because it's a PhD viva! :) Unfortunately his criticism often lacks constructiveness which can get you down after 4 years!
I was pleased with my thesis when I submitted it considering I had to write it while working full time, but I am just confused as to why he would wait until after I submitted to flag any problems when there was time before that I could have done something about it.
Ah well, we shall see what happens. x


hi Xander329
I recently had my viva. Try not to be affected by your supervisor's negative comments. Surely your thesis was good enough to be submitted? The clock cannot be turned back. So do prepare for your viva, concentrate on that for now and stay centred and focused.

A few quick tips for viva (these helped me a lot)
1. know our thesis in depth
2. download potential viva questions and answer them
3. get questions from your own supervisor or colleagues and answer them
4. have a coffee/chat with your colleagues (spend some time with them--those who know you are preparing for viva--and even better if they are also preparing for theirs)
5. practice how to answer infront of a mirror/teddy bear

No. 4 is really useful even though you may not be discussing your thesis (in particular), but it helps in adding support and exchange of ideas.

As for defending a short thesis
--give clear and direct answers because a short thesis addresses issues that don't need to be in a long thesis--sometimes long theses are not necessary, and here you have to convince your examiner that your short thesis covered everything (the research question(s)).

best of luck

love satchi


How did it go?


It went great! Passed with (very) minor corrections. Just typos etc. The examiners were really friendly, they said they enjoyed my thesis and the viva was only an hour and a half! I was quite surprised obviously! Thank you satchi and bewildered for your advice. Moral of the story, don't pay any attention to your supervisor.... haha.




Congrats Xander !


Quote From Xander329:
Moral of the story, don't pay any attention to your supervisor.... haha.

Agreed (when it comes to my experiences pre viva that is!) :) Congratulations Dr. Xander :)


Many congrats Dr. Xander :D


congratulations dr xander :-)
love satchi


Thank you! :)

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

Congrats also. You never know what path the examiners are going to take and you can't always pre-empt them.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)