IRST have 17 years of experience mentors to train you for Ph.D. Viva voice examination

Once you have submitted your thesis you will be invited to defend your doctorate at a ‘viva voce' (Latin for ‘by live voice') or oral examination. The thesis defence 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.

Format for defending a doctoral thesis

Every institution will have specific regulations for the thesis defence. In some countries or institutions, the convention is for thesis defences to be public events where you will give a lecture explaining your research, followed by a discussion with a panel of examiners (opponents). Both your examiners and the audience are able to ask questions.

In other countries, including the UK, the oral examination is usually conducted behind closed doors by at least two examiners, usually with at least one being from another institution (external examiner) and an expert in your topic of research. In the UK the supervisor does not participate in the viva, but may be allowed to observe. Sometimes someone from your own institution is appointed as an independent chair. Although it is now becoming more common for the candidate to have an opportunity to give a public lecture in UK institutions, this does not form part of the examination and may or may not be attended by the examiners.

Viva 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 organise a practice viva. Take advantage of these opportunities: they can be extremely valuable experiences.

In order to provide you the entire information and help for comprehensive viva, here are some frequently asked questions:

When does viva take place?

Your PhD viva defense usually scheduled after 9-10 weeks after the successful submission of thesis. Meantime, the student is given the time to prepare for his defense and the examining committee gets the time to go through the student’s thesis in depth.

Who takes oral examination?

The examination committee comprises of both external and internal examiner who have reviewed your thesis, an internal coordinator to make sure that all rules and regulations of university are being followed. Supervisor is also present on student’s demand.

How much time does viva defense take?

There are no specific time limits, however most of the viva defenses usually take two hours. Some viva defense take less time, and some more; it depends upon the discussion of student’s research and thesis.

What is expected from student during comprehensive viva?

Examination committee expects the PhD student to:

    • Have a deep understanding of his research and thesis
    • Be able to answer each question that has been put up from thesis
    • Convince them that the thesis is entirely written by him
    • Justify that no plagiarism is involved in the research work done
    • Demonstrate himself as a potential researcher

How can one prepare for PhD viva?

You must begin preparing well as soon as you submit your thesis. Read your thesis critically before your viva and find out the ambiguous statements, arguments (if any) and think how can you explain them well if asked by the examiners. Practice summarizing and highlighting the strong points of your thesis in brief. You can also seek help for comprehensive viva from our expert consultants who will guide you on how you can crack the viva.

How can you provide help for PhD comprehensive viva?

We have a team of expert consultants who have experience of many years working as internal and external examiners in PhD defenses. Till now, they have assisted many students in getting ready to face the ultimate oral defense. Here is how we provide help for comprehensive viva:

    • We will find out the loopholes in your thesis which can be asked by the examiners
    • Discuss the literature in detail that you have referred in your thesis
    • Counsel you on how to present your thesis and handle the difficult situations during viva
    • Organize a mock viva to demonstrate the scenario of viva defense

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

·         list of minor corrections that you have come across during your revision.


During the viva

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 all theses. Do not interpret criticism as indication of a possible negative outcome.

Examiners have different personalities, styles and levels of experience. Sometimes a candidate may feel that a challenge is made in a confrontational way. Experienced, effective examiners will not be inappropriately confrontational, but some will. Do not take offence. A relaxed, thoughtful, and non-confrontational response from you will help re-balance the discussion. Having an independent chair can help maintain a constructive environment.

Useful tips for during your viva:

  • 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 Viva…

Prepare to celebrate… and to rewrite, if necessary. 

One more piece of good news about vivas? You won’t have to wait long for the results! After your viva is finished, you’ll be asked to withdraw from the room so the examiners can deliberate. And while several outcomes are possible with varying degrees of success and failure, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of Ph. D. candidates who go through the viva process do gain their degrees…

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