Show Your Working

These three words were drilled into me in my former life as a mathematician. In solving a maths problem it wasn’t enough to find an answer, I had to show how I had got there. I couldn’t claim a result without proof.

“Show your working” is important for PhDs more generally, not just for low-dimensional topologists!

Postgraduate researchers show their working in their thesis, but then also in the viva. They have to explain their thinking, share the knowledge they have and demonstrate their ability.

A viva isn’t only about reciting facts. You have to show your working – but of course, by this stage, you must have a lot of experience doing that. Preparing for the viva is partly reviewing those experiences, and partly practising doing it one more time.

Show how you’ve worked in your viva – and show once again how you can do the work.