The Last Viva

It’s hard to imagine the first viva. When I tried it made me wonder about the last one too. If there was to be a last one it could be special for all sorts of reasons…

  • “We’re changing the process…”
  • “It’s the end of an era…”
  • “The Vice Chancellor is going to be there too!”

I smile to myself as I think about this – but it also reminds me that none of that would matter. Not really.

What matters is the work and the talented person who did it. These are the special things about the viva.

These are the things that matter.

It’s unlikely that your viva, whenever it is, would be the last one ever. It will still be incredibly special.


How big a deal is your viva?

There are tens of thousands of them every year in the UK.

Maybe over a thousand in your university.

Even at a department level there could be dozens.

And your examiners may do four or five per year.

And despite all of the work that leads up to it by everyone involved, it will probably be over in a few hours, and will probably be similar to a lot of other vivas that have happened before.

Not that special.


…your research is unique. Your thesis is one-of-a-kind. You’re the only person who has gone on the research journey you’ve completed. To do it all, you have to be amazing.

Special is relative. From the perspective that matters – yours – the viva is special.

And so are you.

Episode 64: Q&A Special 2


This episode has been a long time coming through one thing and another. I had to get a new laptop in the last few weeks, and then configure everything, so while I had this second Q&A Special recorded I couldn’t edit it. But hurrah, I’ve done it!

I got a couple of questions via email for this episode, and decided to add to those by sharing some answers to interesting questions I got at workshops in the last few months. I’m going to put an open call for questions out on Twitter and on the podcast from this point on! So whenever I get, say, six or seven questions in the list I’ll record a new Q&A Special and put it in the schedule.

This episode also marks a change of music! I had been thinking about a new theme tune for some time, and then heard of Jukedeck, a service that uses AI to compose music. I found a tune that it had composed and tweaked a few parameters, and it gave a really cool new piece of music that I’ll be using from now on.

Would you like to come on a future episode of the podcast? Email me, tweet at me or leave a comment on the site and I’ll reply. Send questions about the viva for a future special and if you’re looking for more help with viva preparation, you could also check out my books and ebooks.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 59: Dr Helen Kara

Hello! 🙂

In this episode we’re not looking at viva experiences, but catching up with a previous guest on the podcast. Dr Helen Kara shared her experiences in Episode 33, and told us about how she completed her PhD part time and what happened in her viva. For Episode 59 she’s sharing her experiences as an alternative academic, and telling me a little about what it means to be an independent researcher. Helen shares some great advice for anyone who is thinking about this as a career path – plus we make time to talk about our recently self-published book Self-Publishing For Academics!

Self-Publishing For Academics - 625sideYou can find Helen on Twitter as @DrHelenKara and I recommend checking out her Amazon author page for a full listing of all of the books she has written for researchers. If you’re just starting out on your PhD, or know someone who is, then check out her book Starting Your PhD: What You Need To Know, it’s 100% free and 100% helpful.

Get in touch if you’d like to be a part of a future episode, it’s always great to hear from people who want to share their PhD and viva experiences. If you have any questions, comments or suggestion then email me, tweet at me or leave a comment on this post. And if you’ve found the podcast useful then please pass it on! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)