Thesis Defending Support
Once you have submitted your thesis you will be invited to defend your doctorate at a ‘viva voce' (or oral examination. The thesis defense can be a daunting prospect, but many people really enjoy this experience of discussing their PhD research with genuinely interested experts. It can also be a useful networking opportunity.
Thesis defending preparation
Take the preparation for your viva seriously and devote a substantial amount of time to it. The viva preparation checklist may be useful to help you prepare.
Your institution may offer courses on viva preparation and there may be opportunities to organize a practice viva. Take advantage of these opportunities: it can be extremely valuable experiences.
Things you may wish to take with you
- Your thesis – mildly annotated if you wish
- A list of questions that you might be asked and your planned responses
- Any questions that you want to ask your examiners
- Additional notes which you have made during your revision
During the thesis defending
Your study will have strengths and weaknesses: it is essential that you are prepared to discuss both. You could think of any weaknesses as an opportunity to demonstrate your skill at critical appraisal. Examiners will seek to find and discuss weaknesses in your theses. Do not interpret criticism as an indication of a possible negative outcome.
Useful tips for during your thesis defending
- Ask for clarification of ambiguous questions or ask for the question to be repeated, if necessary
- Take time to think before answering
- Be prepared to ask questions and enter into a dialogue with your examiners
- Be prepared to discuss your research in context of other work done in your field
- Be ready to admit if you don't know the answer to a question
- Be prepared to express opinions of your own
- You are not expected to have perfect recall of your thesis and everything that you have read and done. If you get flustered, or need to refer to notes your examiners will understand. They have been in your situation themselves!
After your thesis defending
There are several possible outcomes of a thesis defense. Most commonly, your examiners will recommend to your institution that you are awarded your degree subject to minor corrections, although in some instances they might ask for more substantial work.