Uncommon Expectations

Some viva candidates are told at the start that they’ve passed. Most aren’t.

Some viva candidates are asked to prepare a presentation to begin their viva. Most aren’t.

I’ve heard of some departments sharing a finishing time for the viva beforehand. Most don’t.

I was stood in front of a chalkboard for all of my viva – I know of no-one else who has had this experience.


Viva stories can help shape expectations but it’s always important to ask whether something is common, and thus useful to reflect on and prepare for, or whether it was a rare event – or even unique!

Uncommon experiences can create a false or worrying picture of the viva. To get the truth, find out about recent vivas in your department. Listen to lots of stories and figure out what are common or uncommon expectations.

Remember: your viva will be unique, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a total unknown.