I've seen some bad experiences of vivas here so I thought I'd add mine to the mix which was a largely positive experience! I submitted my thesis in April and my Viva was set for June, so a wait of about 2 months. I read a lot about prepping for a viva so I did the following:
- Re-read my thesis in detail, making notes on post its of areas I wanted to follow up/re-read, questions I thought I might be asked and any typos I found
- I made a document using the above where I referenced the page number and made notes about my thesis, also using some of the standard viva questions in places, also a table of typo corrections needed (not too many fortunately!)
- Completed a thesis summary table where I put in the sub-heading, page number and a line or two about the main focus of that section
- Had a mock viva with my supervisors
- Checked for any new literature relevant to my topic
I had thought I would re-read a lot of papers but I didn't end up doing that and it wasn't necessary. I didn't spend too long writing detailed answers to potential questions either. I did start to hate my thesis during the prep and thought that there was a lot I would change if I was writing it again!
The viva itself:
I met with my supervisor before the viva and we had a bit of lunch and chatted about things. He said that he had not read the pre viva reports but had spoken to my internal who had not raised any major issues.
My examiners put me at ease straight away and said that they enjoyed reading my thesis, and that it was well written and flowed. That was nice to hear as I had started to pick holes in it myself! The viva lasted for about 1.5 hours, and really had the feel of a discussion about different elements. They were clearly following guidance on what a doctoral thesis should look like rather than trying to make it perfect or how they would have done it - they referenced some of the guidelines during the viva about what they were looking for. They asked questions that had me explain my processes and background to the viva, which I think were about making sure I had done the work. They asked me to explain my methods and choices, which I had expected, and talk through my recommendations.
I conceded on some points, for example when one examiner picked up on the use of certain words/language that I wasn't aware had negative connotations.
Pass with minor corrections! They picked out five things for me to correct, which were all pretty minor - just checking table style, making sure how I write about my aims is consistent, some typos etc. They actually said that I had successfully defended some decisions that they may have asked me to correct otherwise, so that was good!
The full report should be with me in a couple of days and then I'll get cracking on the amendments :)
Hope that is helpful for some people - it's easy to get side tracked with horror stories and I'm sure some people's experiences are not so positive, but the viva can be a good experience. I actually quite enjoyed it!
Thanks for posting millerym. I am really struggling with writing up and having nightmares about my viva as can't imagine ever having a thesis good enough to robustly defend. So good to read about your experience. Well done !!! Hope you are having some well deserved relaxation.
I just wanted to update after I got my official viva report. There were six minor things to change from changing the terminology/language of one aspect throughout, to making sure the tables were in APA format and adding a short reflective paragraph to one chapter. There was also a list of general grammatical type changes to make. In all it took me about two days to make the changes and I'm just waiting for feedback from my supervisor to check it's all OK before I submit. Honestly the worst thing about the amendments was fighting with word on formatting some things and keeping an accurate list of where all the changes were.
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