The Many Names Of The Viva

People use lots of names to describe the PhD viva.

Viva voce. Thesis defence. Final viva. Thesis examination. The viva.

It’s quite common, in my experience, for candidates to capitalise the V in viva!

“…my Viva is next month…”


Words matter. The name we give something influences how we think and feel about it. In turn this influences what we do about it. The viva is important – your viva is important – but it’s just one day. One day after over a thousand spent on your PhD journey.

If you find that preparing for your thesis defence is giving you doubts, then consider that you’re getting ready for a thesis examination.

If you stress over your Viva then perhaps you will feel better about your viva.

What’s in a name? There are so many ways to describe the conversation you’ll have with your examiners at the end of your PhD. What name will be right for your viva? Make a good choice for yourself.

Practical Defending

Defending your thesis at your viva does not mean shielding it from harm or arguing aggressively.

(attack is not the best form of defence)

To defend your thesis well you need to know your thesis and research well. You need to know your field. You need to be a good, capable researcher. You need to know a little about your examiners. You need to have rehearsed for the viva with some kind of practice at responding to questions.

And all of these things are neither unreasonable to expect of you or too burdensome to satisfy during your PhD and prep time. You don’t need any aspect to be perfect.

To defend your thesis you need to do the work, be a good researcher and show up ready.

Defending your research doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Set Chief Needs

“Set Chief Needs” is the neatest anagram of “Thesis Defence” – and also good viva prep advice!

Ahead of the viva consider what you need to be ready:

  • What do you need to feel confident?
  • How do you need to annotate your thesis?
  • What do you need to consider about your examiners?
  • What do you need from your supervisors?
  • What help do you need?
  • What papers do you need to re-read?
  • And so on!

Set Chief Needs works well…

…far better than Send Fit Cheeses…