VIVA questions?


Hey everyone. . Just wondering, what sort of questions should i expect in a VIVA?. Who has done their viva or their moc viva, what where the questions like?. I want to go through my work, but i dont know if they go beyond that, in other words to talk about other people's work etc..



I had an easy viva, because it only lasted an hour and I was told that I'd passed at the start.

Most of the questions were about my thesis (although not at a page-by-page level), or bigger questions about my views about relevant research questions (not other people's research). But I did have a few general ones, including the opening "Why did you choose this topic?" ice-breaker.

I didn't find revising dozens of potential viva questions to be at all helpful for me. Instead I focused my thinking on 5 main areas: originality of my thesis, contribution to knowledge, methodology, weaknesses/gaps/mistakes, and what would I do differently if starting again. Between them those covered most of the general questions that I would be likely to be asked.


I have another question, do you give a presentation as a start or they just start ask questions about the thesis and work?


I didn't give a presentation at the start, and wasn't asked to. It might vary by discipline though. I'm humanities.


Thanks Bilbo :). Fruit the people i know who have done vivas did not do a presentation, but maybe if you wanted to do one it would be ok.
I'm trying to go through the main points you mentioned Bilbo for the moment, i guess those are important points to be able to just talk about easily. :-)


Hi Amanda, I'm in the same boat as my viva's coming up in a few weeks. I'm not very sure about possible questions either, but I'm going through my thesis at the moment to make sure I understand exactly what I've written/calculated. I've also thought about possible questions like why I chose to do the work, and what I would do differently if I started again.

How are you feeling about yours? Is it soon? When I found out the date, I was incredibly worried and actually had trouble sleeping just thinking about it. But now that I've started preparing, I've calmed down and feel a lot more relaxed. I just keep telling myself that I can't be expected to know everything!

Good luck with your preparation :)


Oh and I should also have added that I tried to predict what my examiners would ask, based on their research interests etc. I thought my external would critique me on a number of specific factors. But they didn't bother her at all, and she asked totally different things.

So don't try to predict too much what will be asked on the day. I think it's best if you know your thesis, can defend it, and can deal confidently with any question that will come up. And that includes saying "Mmmm, interesting question. I might need to think about that more." to hedge out of it! If you're not confident about the question-answer format then maybe having a mock viva would be a good idea. But I didn't think it would help me, and didn't have one.


My viva lasted two and a half hours but felt like five minutes. At the start they asked me to summarise through the thesis highlighting the main ideas and the 'story' of it - so how I went from one section to another, what motivated it, why I was interested in that.

Then they went through chapter by chapter asking more specific questions, so where I wasn't clear I had to clarify what I meant, or justify why I had chosen a given approach compared to others. When it came to the chapters on my 'novel' work, we went into greater depth - less because they hadn't understood it but the external was actually genuinely interested as it was quite an unusual approach I took.

Afterwards we discussed where my work could go, so if someone was coming to it and wanted to continue it what direction I would advise them to go.

Then I went away for a cup of tea and came back half hour later to be told I had passed :)


Hi squiggles, i am having a moc viva next week, not only with my supervisor but i also have other members attending, i dont have a viva date yet, but i am really nervous even for my moc viva. Good luck for your viva squiggles, try to keep calm. and thanks Danb and bilbo. :-)


Good luck Amanda, I'm sure you'll do fine. I'm not having a mock...for some reason, nobody here seems to!


Hey squiggles, thanks, although at the moment i really have had enough of looking at the work i cant seem to be able to do any reading or anything. Good luck to you will be great :-)(up)


Hello Amanda
I am sure that your supervisor(s) have asked you many questions during your study (Socratically?!!) so you should have been prepeared for the questions in your viva already.
Irrespective of the discipline or topic or focus our ten years of research shows that the majority of vivas will include the question 'Why did you choose this topic for your doctoral research?' The examiners are seriously curious about your choice and want to hear you talk about it. Usually it is the first 'opening' question. If you have already answered that question in Chapter One of your thesis, they may still ask it as an ice-breaker for the subsequent discussion. See: Trafford, V.N. and Leshem, S. 2002. Starting at the end to undertake doctoral research: predictable questions as stepping stones. Higher Education Review. 34.1. 31-49.

Hope this helps! Best wishes. BYE vernontrafford(up)