One of the vital elements of a PhD in the UK is the Viva, or “viva voce”. (Or, if you’re an American, the thesis defence!) It is an oral examination of the PhD research. It is an opportunity to discuss your research with an expert in your field. And, importantly, it is an opportunity to prove your worth in the Academy.
Before you get to the viva, you have to make sure that you have a qualified, knowledgeable examination team. The structure of that team might vary from one institution to the next, and even between disciplines. But one thing they’ll have in common is that the examiners will know their stuff!
At my university, the viva includes both an external and internal examiner with your panel chair acting as the chair and moderator. Supervisors are only allowed if the student says it’s OK, but they are not allowed to speak during the examination. (I am inviting my supervisors. They’re wonderful support to me and I would be happy to have them there, if they dare!)
The examiners are generally identified by the supervision team (with potential input from the student) and are confirmed by the Research Degrees Committee. That confirmation is based on the relevant experience of the team and is determined based on a thesis abstract and the examiners’ CVs, relevant publications, and previous examination experience.
And confirming your examiners is a big deal! It means you’re getting a bit closer to your viva, which means you’re getting pretty darn near to submitting your thesis.
As for me, I submitted the relevant form (RD12) and accompanying information for approval today. Which means I’m close to being ready for my viva. Or, at least, it means I should be close! I still have a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, of writing to do. But I’m getting there. Slowly. Very slowly.
I don’t know if I’m able to share my abstract or the names of my chosen examiners yet. And I don’t know when the committee will formally accept my suggested people. So, I won’t share that information here today. But I did want to share this important milestone.
But for now, it’s back to that thesis writing thing that I should be working on…