There can’t be many more nerve-wracking oral exams than the PhD viva. A several-year build-up –and then… what? To give research students an impression of what’s it actually like on the day, Dr Carol Fuller from the Institute of Education has produced a short, entertaining and informative video. Using some Teaching and Learning Development Fund (TLDF) money, Carol, who is Director of the Institute’s EdD Programme, has teamed up with film maker Henry Steddman – a UoR alumni — to provide reassurance to potentially anxious candidates. Starring some IoE colleagues as well as professional actors, the video thankfully stays clear of vague and meaningless advice often found in self-help type viva-survivor tips, such as ‘just be yourself’ (which is fine if your self is a confident academic on top of your game, not so much if it’s a nervous wreck. As Father Ted says to Dougal: never be yourself! That’s just something people say!)
So how should you be, then? First, let’s remember the cornerstones of the situation you’re in here:
- You’re the expert on your thesis
- The examiners have read your work thoroughly…
- ….and they’re keen to discuss it with you.
On viva day:
- dress smartly
- refer to your thesis
- keep eye contact
- if unsure, ask questions
- stay hydrated
- ….try to relax!
- at the end, if you’re asked whether you’d like to add anything, take the opportunity.
Then, you’ve done all you can for now, and there’s no more to than just wait, until… it’s time!
Hopefully, you’ll get the desired result, and will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy! Congratulations!
If UoR PhD’ers and EdD’ers find the video useful, Carol is keen to hear their feedback – via any means possible, be it the YouTube comment box, on Facebook or twitter, or via email.” It’s a good way to give students access to an easy-to-use resource”, says Carol. “If students tell us they like this video clip, we can make the case for funding to make more such short films, for example on epistemology or methodology.”
What do you and your students think of Carol’s video?