10 Tips for Preparing for a Viva


21st September 2023

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Preparing for a viva, or thesis defence, is a critical step in successfully defending your research or academic work. Here are ten tips to help you prepare effectively:

1. Know Your Research Inside Out: Thoroughly understand your research, including the methodology, data, analysis, and conclusions. Be prepared to discuss your work in detail.

2. Anticipate Questions: Try to anticipate the types of questions your examiners might ask. Review your thesis and identify potential areas of weakness or ambiguity.

3. Practice Explaining Your Work: Practice explaining your research to colleagues, mentors, or friends who are not intimately familiar with your field. This can help you communicate your ideas clearly.

4. Create a Presentation: Prepare a concise presentation summarising your research. Highlight key findings, methodology, and contributions. Practice delivering this presentation.

5. Review the Literature: Be ready to discuss the relevant literature in your field. Know how your work fits into the broader academic context.

6. Revisit Your Methodology: Be prepared to discuss your research methods, including any limitations or alternative approaches you considered.

7. Prepare for the “So What” Question: Examiners often ask, “So what? Why does your research matter?” Be prepared to explain the significance and impact of your work.

8. Mock Viva: Arrange a mock viva with a trusted advisor, mentor, or colleague who can simulate the experience of defending your thesis. This can help you identify areas for improvement.

9. Practice with Feedback: Seek feedback on your answers and presentation skills from others. This will help you refine your responses and improve your communication.

10. Stay Calm and Confident: On the day of the viva, stay calm and confident. Dress professionally, arrive early, and engage in active listening during the examination.

Bonus Tip: Consider your examiners’ backgrounds and interests. Try to tailor your responses to their expertise when discussing specific aspects of your research.

Remember that the viva is not just a test of your knowledge but also an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think critically, defend your work, and engage in academic discourse. Approach it with confidence and a willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue about your research.