Setting Expectations

Happy New Year from Viva Survivors!


I’m often asked “What are vivas like?” I can help with that, as can a candidate’s friends and colleagues. No-one can guarantee what a viva will be like beforehand but there are enough stories that we can piece together expectations.

Vivas tend to be a certain length; they tend to start with these sorts of questions; vivas are structured, and so on.

That’s one kind of expectation. Another kind are the expectations you have for yourself at the viva.

You will be prepared. You will pause when you hear a question. You will take your time to respond. You will use every opportunity to share your research.


There there are the big picture expectations you set for yourself. What kind of researcher do you want to be? How are you going to get your PhD finished? And what kind of person do you want to be?

There are pros and cons for setting New Year’s Resolutions, but I think it’s a good idea to start a new year by setting expectations for oneself. What do you want to demonstrate and do as you go through the next 365 days? How could you do that? What kind of a difference are you trying to make?

Here’s to a good year, with very best wishes from me and my family to you and yours 🙂