How to prepare for your viva

Now that you’ve submitted your thesis, it’s time to start preparing for your viva.

Your examiners

Once you know the names of the examiners, it’s a good idea to establish how their research links with yours. Try and read some of their published work and consider how they may approach the findings of your research.

Re-read your thesis

Now you’ve had an opportunity to reflect, it’s a good idea to re-read your thesis ahead of the viva. If you find mistakes please don’t worry, these can be corrected following the viva, during the corrections stage. But please do make a note of them, in case they are discussed during the viva.

Write an overview of your thesis

Make notes about each chapter and summarise the details within each section. Don’t worry, there isn’t an expectation that you’ll have memorised your thesis, but the notes will be a useful reference point. You can take your thesis and notes into the viva with you, and we recommend putting page markers into sections you feel you may need to refer to/quote from.

Have a practice viva

To help you prepare for answering questions, we recommend taking part in a practice viva. This can take different forms, from meeting with you supervisor or a peer, through to practicing questions on your own, or taking a mock viva as part of our ‘Surviving the Viva’ workshop.

Attend Surviving your Viva workshop

Proficio runs a ‘Surviving the Viva’ course which provides students with hints and tips, as well as a platform to ask questions. The course sets out to demystify the viva process, explains what the examiners expect from the student and provides practical advice on how to prepare for the viva.

Attend Coaching for Success sessions

Organisational Development also runs Coaching for Success, a one-to-one coaching provision that may boost your confidence and help you understand how you can perform best in exciting but challenging situations. To book a coaching session visit Proficio and book a place.

Look after your wellbeing

Don’t forget to take care of your wellbeing in the weeks leading up to the viva, engage with the PGRE-led wellbeing events. Plan a calming activity to help you on the morning. There are some calming mindfulness tips from Mind.

Final preparations

In the days leading up to the viva, we recommend getting prepared and thinking things through. Some of the suggestions below are quite small, but not having to think about them on the morning of the viva should help to focus on the important elements and remain relaxed.

Think about the transport you’ll take, to ensure you’ll arrive in plenty of time. Plan what you’re going to wear; you need to look smart, whilst also being comfortable and confident in your appearance. Plan what you’ll take into the room with you, and be organised with your items; you don’t want to be hunting in the bottom of a bag for something that you can’t find.

Look at the venue and the timings of the viva. If possible visit the room where the viva will be held. Consider when will be the best time to eat.

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Postgraduate Research Education Team