I had my PhD viva yesterday. This is where a couple of specialists in related fields to your area of study ask you questions about your thesis, sometimes it’s called an oral exam (but that sounds like a trip to the dentist) or an oral defence (anti-bacterial toothpaste?). It’s about as close to an exam as a PhD person gets. I wasn’t really nervous, because you don’t study something for this long without feeling comfortable with talking about it, but it was a big step in the final stages and there was a sense of excitement around it.
So how did I do? Not bad at all. I’ve got a ‘Pass, but…’ where the ‘but’ means that they would like me to make some changes. As half-expected, they would like me to change my referencing system. I could’ve sworn that I had stuck to the MHRA style guide all the way through, but apparently not. Still, that’s not so bad, it’ll just be really laborious. More demanding will be the literature review section that they want me to add to the end of the introduction chapter. They feel that there are a couple of people whose work should have been mentioned but wasn’t. I need to put a brief discussion of what they’ve said into the thesis and then it’s done! They’ve told me, in very definite terms, not to change any of the later chapters, no matter how tempting it may be to include the new people’s ideas.
What this boils down to is some repetitive work, some reading, and three or four thousand new words to be added in one chunk, none of which should be too difficult at all.
They were very happy with my answers to their questions; they felt that they had given me quite a hard time, but I only really had any trouble with one question.
So, what have I learnt about viva techniques?
I really enjoyed my viva, even though it was sometimes quite challenging. Now it’s just the final few things to put in place, and I’m done. Hooray!
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