Summary Focus

How small could you make your thesis?

It takes years to create, through research and writing, to make it what it is. But could your thesis be summarised in a few thousand words before your viva, to help you remember key points, important references and essential ideas?

Perhaps you could present the best ideas in, say, three minutes? A valuable and entertaining presentation for a general audience, not dumbing down, but not sharing all of the details.

Or could you capture everything essential for you in a single page? What would be essential? How would you decide on what to leave out and what to include?

You can’t walk into the viva having memorised tens of thousands of words and hundreds of references – and you don’t need to. A useful part of preparation is breaking down your work to find the most important details, to help your memory and make present the most valuable or necessary things that you might have to discuss in the viva.

You might want to explore several different scales of summaries, or ask yourself several different questions to help your preparation. To begin with, ask yourself what information you need to look over. What do you think would be useful to have almost at your fingertips? And what might others need to know or be interested in?