Forewarned Is Forearmed

I got a striking question at a workshop last month:

What are the skills or tools to arm myself with for a successful viva?

I like this question a lot. There’s a built-in assumption that the viva is achievable. You can prepare for it, it’s not about luck. Like the PhD, it’s about talent and work.

My answer?

Arm yourself with your thesis. Annotate it in a useful way.

Arm yourself with knowledge about the viva. Ask around for the regulations and expectations.

Arm yourself with opportunities to discuss your research with others. This will hone your ability to think and talk for the viva.

For most candidates, these aren’t any new skills or tools to acquire. It’s simply a continuation of practice. Preparing for the viva isn’t difficult if you’ve done the work to produce a thesis. You have all of the skills you need to meet the challenge ahead.