A curated selection of useful things for postgraduate researchers finishing their PhD or preparing for their viva.

Viva Stories from 2020

Vivas moved online because of the pandemic, and this added a new way for PhD candidates to be worried about the viva. Thankfully, lots of people generously shared their experiences of having a viva over video – and having a viva during lockdown! Here are some stories that I’ve been sent or spotted on Twitter. Get in touch and send me your story or one that you spot and I’ll add it to the list πŸ™‚

This Twitter thread on video vivas I curated might be helpful too, as well as this tweetchat that I did with the @virtualnotviral Twitter account!

Viva Stories and Advice

I have been bookmarking blog posts and articles about the viva for a long time – here are a selection that look really interesting. I find it fascinating that there is such a diversity of experiences, often underpinned by common themes and explorations.


There is a wealth of material on the viva and viva preparation out there on the internet. I’m very happy that Viva Survivors has been so valuable to so many people since I launched it in June 2012, both as the podcast and the blog. It came out of a workshop that I deliver called Viva Survivor; often on the workshop one of the common pieces of feedback I got was that it was great to hear my story as well as the advice or techniques I was trying to pass on. This got me thinking, and eventually lead to the podcast, and then later the blog.

Many institutions offer similar training, but if you’re interested in having me talk to you and your colleagues then please get in touch or pass my details on to your graduate school.

Now, over to you!

What other great articles, videos and resources are out there to help PhD candidates prepare for the viva? If you know of something that you think will be useful then please email me and I’ll take a look at it.

…and finally…

Remember, viva experiences and thesis examinations differ all over the world. The podcast is typically UK-centric. In Kashmir, PhD students have to provide a feast. Do you have to fight snakes as part of your viva? Rarely, but if you do then McSweeney’s has got you covered with the following article: FAQ: The “Snake Fight” Portion of Your Thesis Defense.

As seen on xkcd at http://xkcd.com/1403/ – think carefully!!! πŸ˜‰