Difficult Circumstances

“Viva Survivor” is catchy, but it can also sound a little negative to some ears. I checked the definition of survive a while back and was heartened to see a definition that matched my intent on using the phrase so widely: manage to keep going in difficult circumstances.

Most vivas are positive, engaging discussions that end well, but that doesn’t mean even the best viva doesn’t have difficult circumstances. Candidates are being examined on original work. For most candidates, this is the first time they have ever written a work of that length.

There are realistic expectations for the viva, but even so there is no predicting what will happen. It’s difficult to know what questions will be asked, what conclusions examiners might have, or even for a candidate to know how they might feel about the process as it happens.

The viva could be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it is an all-or-nothing challenge, or that a candidate should have doubts about whether or not they are up to the task.

If your viva is coming up, reflect: how many difficult circumstances have you faced and overcome during your PhD?

You can manage one more time.