Surviving Your Viva: Tips for Defending Your Thesis Successfully


12th December 2023

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Embarking on your viva can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with proper preparation and a focused mindset, you can emerge victorious. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through essential tips for surviving your viva, both before and during it, helping you to face this academic challenge with confidence.

Before Your Viva

Know Your Thesis Inside Out:

  • The cornerstone of a successful viva is an intimate knowledge of your thesis. Be prepared to discuss each aspect, from methodology to results and conclusions. Anticipate questions that may arise and have thoughtful responses at the ready.

Review Relevant Literature:

  • Refresh your memory on the key literature that underpins your research. This not only demonstrates your command of the subject but also allows you to contextualise your work within the broader academic landscape.

Practice Answering Questions:

  • Enlist the help of peers, mentors, or friends to conduct mock viva sessions. This will not only familiarise you with the format but also provide valuable insights into potential areas of improvement.

Be Ready to Justify Your Choices:

  • Expect questions probing the decisions you made during your research. Whether it’s your chosen methodology, data collection methods, or analytical tools, be prepared to articulate the reasoning behind each choice.

Stay Updated on Current Research:

  • Be aware of recent developments in your field. This showcases your commitment to staying informed and demonstrates that your research is relevant and up-to-date.

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During Your Viva

Maintain Composure:

  • Stay calm and composed throughout the viva. Take a deep breath before responding to questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if needed.

Listen Actively:

  • Pay close attention to the examiners’ questions. Ensure you fully understand what is being asked before formulating your response. Active listening demonstrates your engagement in the viva process.

Expand on Your Answers:

  • While providing concise responses is essential, be prepared to expand on your answers when necessary. Elaborate on key points and provide additional context to showcase the depth of your understanding.

Embrace Constructive Criticism:

  • View feedback and critique as opportunities for improvement rather than as negative assessments. Demonstrating a willingness to learn and grow is a positive aspect of your academic journey. Our top tip? Don’t forget to bring a pen to take some notes!

Take Breaks if Needed:

  • If the viva is lengthy, don’t hesitate to request short breaks if necessary. This allows you to maintain focus and ensures that both you and the examiners are operating at your best.

Celebrate Your Achievements:

  • Don’t forget to acknowledge your achievements during the viva. Highlight the strengths of your research and be proud of the contribution you’ve made to your field.

A Successful Outcome

Remember, the viva is not just an assessment; it’s an opportunity for you to engage in a meaningful discussion about your research. By following these tips, you can approach your viva with confidence, and get ready to showcase the depth and significance of your work. 

If you’re seeking expert guidance and support in preparing for your viva, our team is here to help. From mock viva sessions to personalised feedback, our services are designed to boost your confidence and ensure you’re well-equipped for success. Don’t leave your viva preparation to chance—reach out to us today.