A Recipe For Viva Stress

Take several years of difficult and demanding work.

Sieve together with months of writing.

Stir in vague half-truths and uncertain expectations.

Add two experienced academics to the mix.

Fold together with nervousness, worry, future plans and, depending on circumstances, pandemic-related uncertainty.

Bring to a slow boil over weeks of preparation and serve at the appropriate time.


A candidate might not feel stressed, but it’s not hard to appreciate why someone could be stressed by the thought of their viva. They would most probably still pass but the experience might be uncomfortable.

There’s no silver bullet to defeat viva stress, but there are remedies for each of the ingredients above.

Review your work and highlight what really matters. Re-read your thesis to be sure of how information flows. Find out more about what happens at vivas. Check recent publications by your examiners. And instead of bottling up stress as you prepare, use that time to build your confidence.

There’s a clear recipe for viva stress – but you don’t have to follow it.