Defending Your Doctoral Thesis Through Your Viva

Once you have completed your doctoral thesis, you would be invited to defend your thesis at an oral examination called the “viva voce.” Even though a viva can be challenging, many students enjoy explaining their doctoral theses to subject matter experts. Here are a few tips for helping you defend your doctoral thesis through your viva.

Know Your Examiners

Before you can defend your thesis, you should know who your examiner is. Aim to set a date for the viva as soon as possible. It could be just a few days or weeks away or even a few months away. However, you would need to be prepared in all eventualities to answer the questions that would be posed by more than one examiner. Work out a timetable so that you can be prepared before the viva. Unless requested by your examiners, your supervisor or guide would not be present at the viva voce.

Step Back from the Details

Read your research work thoroughly and take time to think broadly about it. Think about what links the work of the examiners to your own research work? If you were to start over, what would you do differently? Is it necessary to include a better literature review with more literature added to the list? 

Return to the detail

You should be so confident during your viva voce that nothing should shake your belief in your work. Go through your thesis very carefully again. Make sure you prepare summary notes to understand your research work better. You are not expected to remember every single part of your thesis, but to know a few parts of it well since it will not impress your examiners if you flip the pages of your work back and forth during your viva. Also, make sure you do not carry your research work along with you to your viva voce. 

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