Thursday, 13 November 2014

Webinar: the PhD viva

The British Ecological Society launched its first-ever free webinar series for PhD students, and I volunteered to speak about the viva from the perspective of an external examiner.
The webinar is available on YouTube. I'm biased, but I think it's well worth watching, and contains lots of practical advice and insights that will benefit PhD researchers (and not just ecologists!) who are preparing for the PhD viva. 
Surviving the viva

Like all webinar presenters silly enough to watch themselves afterwards, all I can say is: do I really sound like that?

There's also a selection of written top tips for the PhD viva that are based on some key points from the webinar, and a selection of useful resources relevant to the viva.

From the BES website:
The webinar was chaired by Dr Will Gosling (University of Amsterdam) Chair of the BES Education, Training and Careers Committee. Dr John Finn (TEAGASC) shared his experiences examining vivas, and advised attendees on what vivas entail, what makes a good viva, and how to avoid making common mistakes. Attendees then got the chance to hear a student perspective from Dr William Hunter (Queen’s University Belfast) who provided an honest insight into what students can expect from their viva experience, and some top tips on how best to prepare for it. The attendees then participated in a live Q&A session.

Further reading

See Chapter 7 'The PhD Examination Process' in 'Getting a PhD: an action plan to help manage your research, your supervisor and your project' by John Finn (Routledge Study Guide). Twitter @PhDSkills. Blogs at:

How to survive a PhD viva: 17 top tips Guardian article by Rebecca Ratcliffe

What questions are asked during a PhD viva? Blog post by John Finn

Top ten questions for the PhD oral exam: A checklist of ‘viva’ issues that always come up.
Excellent post by Patrick Dunleavy. Twitter @Write4Research

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