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Blog

Preparing for the PhD Viva Voce

PhD students have to orally defend their theses at the Viva Voce. The Viva Voce is the final journey in their PhD studies. The purpose of the Viva Voce is to establish that the PhD student has written his/her own thesis.

There are normally one or two internal examiners and one external examiner. It is useful to get to know the external examiner before the Viva Voce or at least to read up on his or her publications and work.
PhD students should think about the reasons for undertaking a PhD and why they initially chose the topic and what particularly interested them.

In terms of preparing for the Viva Voce, it is crucial that PhD students know their theses and sources. It is advisable that they read their theses several times. For instance, they should know the theories, which different authors have developed. An examiner may ask what authors have influenced them and why this is the case. Equally, PhD students may be asked to list the most significant literature, which influenced their research. Students should be able to explain why they have employed a particular body of literature. An examiner may want to know whether the research builds upon existing literature or opposes it.
An examiner may ask: "Was there anything which surprised you whilst undertaking your research?"

PhD students may be asked what is original about their research and why this is the case. It is good to know why the research is significant and who benefits from the research. In case the direction of the research changed during the studies, it is important to know why this happened.

PhD students should be able to discuss why they have chosen a particular methodology and justify this. In this context, an examiner may ask what the advantages and disadvantages are of the chosen methodology and enquire about the philosophical assumptions and the consequences of the methodological choices for the data collection. PhD students may also be asked to justify their particular sample.

Additionally, examiners may ask why the data has credibility and why the results have validity. It is also important to know how ethical considerations were taken into account.

A PhD student should know in which respects his/her thesis is limited. Maybe they are asked to explain what obstacles they encountered when undertaking their research or to talk about what they have learned during their studies and how their personal development has benefitted. They may also be asked how other researchers can utilise their work. PhD students should know how to sum up the essence of their PhD. It is crucial to be focused when answering questions.

Essaylaw.co.uk prepares PhD students for their Viva Voce, giving them that extra confidence when attending this important exam.