Viva loveliness!


Hi all, I've read so many viva threads on here over the years that helped me along the road, so I wanted to add my own humble contribution (and also distract from the aggro on the belle du jour thread :) )

I had my viva today, and I passed with no corrections. I can honestly say, with the exception of my wedding day, this is the happiest day of my life. I haven't had a particularly easy ride - a complete relationship breakdown with one of my supervisors, suffering from depression, and a few ****s at conferences along the way - but I climbed the mountain and succeeded. There were times when I never thought it was possible.

I just want to encourage everyone else on here and say, you *can* do this, even if you think you are just average, not clever enough, not into academic schmoozing enough, not doing as much work as everybody else. I thought all of these things, and I guess I'll go on thinking these things, but it hasn't stopped me from getting a PhD.

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a ramble...I'm so tired! I just want to spread the love a little :-)



Wow no corrections! Well done you. And thanks for the encouraging words for those of us still on the path.

Best wishes for the future.


How wonderful for you! Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!

*pops a virtual bottle of champagne*

Very happy for you!


Thanks so much heifer, that's such a heartening post! And well done, no corrections is fantastic... now go celebrate!!!!


Congratulations! Always good to read such news.


No corrections is awesome! (up)

Congratulations, very well done 8-)

Maybe once you've had a chance to celebrate, you can give some tips on the viva?


Heifer, no corrections, that's brilliant, congratulations!! How nice it will be tomorrow to wake up as Dr Heifer! (up):-)(up)


Congratulations Heifer!! (up)


Wow - no corrections?? That is amazing, massive, massive congratulations Dr Heifer (up)


Good stuff, Doc Heifer! Having no corrections means that it truly is all over for you now! All the best for your post-doc future. Have you read the Belle Du Jour thread a couple of threads or so down...? Just a friendly word of caution should you be afflicted by Badhaircut Syndrome.

Only kidding though! Well done.


Massive congratulations Heifer, always great to hear.


Well done Heifer, congratulations.

Perhaps you want to share a bit more about the viva experience; What type of questions, pleasant? reasonable? How long it took etc.

Again, congratulations!


No corrections!!!!!!!!!! Well done!!!!!!!!! Many many congratulations!!!!!!


Congratulations!!! (up)


Hi everyone, thank you all so much for your lovely replies. For those of you who are awaiting vivas I will try and get down in print what happened before I blot it out of my mind forever!

It lasted 1.5 hours, they didn't tell me at the start that I had passed, but they didn't deliberate at the end either, just told me they were ticking "the top box" on the results form (be admitted immediately to the degree, or whatever it is). I didn't do very much by way of preparation, other than re-read the thesis, but I only submitted in September so I guess it was relatively fresh in my mind. I'm going to court controversy here and say I HATE the Murray book, "how to survive your viva" because its full of abstract questions like "what is your conceptual framework" that put the wind up me and I didn't get asked that sort of stuff at all.

The first question they asked was "Can you explain what you mean by interpretivism?" (my thesis was an interpretive policy analysis). At that point I wanted to crawl under the table because that was probably the worst question they could have asked...I'm terrible at defining "big ideas" and I gave a really ropey answer. They then asked "What is important in your thesis?" which again, I felt I answered really badly. At that point, though, I swear the internal examiner winked at me - it made me laugh and from then on I felt super confident and ready for an argument!

One of the things that surprised me was how aggressive and confrontational they were - I honestly thought they must hate my work from the way they talked, and I was so shocked at the end when they said it had passed. For example, one examiner said "You've said it is pointless to focus on policy outcomes, but I think it is absolutely essential to focus on outcomes, otherwise how do we know that democracy is being fulfilled and the interests of society represented? How can you justify making such a claim?!" Also, they did pick out individual sentences from my thesis and lay into them, which was pretty bad because if I had written it more clearly the first time round, it wouldn't have happened!

So, from what I can remember, the main questions were:

Summarise what is important in your thesis
Explain what interpretivism is
Why haven't you used any diagrams?
What are you planning to publish from it?
What would you like us to ask you about? (and at the end, what did you expect us to ask about that we didn't?)

Did people change their behaviour because of your presence? (I did ethnography)
Do you think it was easier for you because you are a young female? Would they have reacted differently if it was us? (two middle aged men!)
Do you think you "went native"? You are not very critical of the subjects' behaviour.
Why didn't you send your conclusions to them for validation?

What is the link between meaning and action?
How does [the main concept] work at different scales?
What does it mean to be critical? Is it possible to be critical without criticising?
you talk about materiality but I think it is under-theorised. Why did you decide to include a discussion of materials?
you talk about rationality, were the participants ever irrational?
How does your work fit into current debates about science and policy (i.e. that Nutt guy who got sacked)
I think you have deliberately exaggerated the importance of this model, why have you done that?
what recommendations could you make to [the government department I studied]

Although the questions were quite hostile, the examiners themselves smiled a lot and also argued between themselves. It was an interdisciplinary thesis so one examiner is a political scientist and the other a sociologist - it felt at times like I was having 2 separate vivas!

I think my advice from it all would be:
don't be put off by hostile questions - they are probably just playing devil's advocate
sometimes they deli