Enough Time

The years of your PhD programme are enough time to do your research and develop yourself.

Several weeks of small tasks is enough preparation time to get yourself ready for your viva.

A matter of hours will be enough time to convince your examiners that you’ve done something significant and that you’re a capable researcher.

And while your PhD journey and thesis are impressive, after you’re done, you have enough time to go do something even more impressive!

So what will you do?

Webinar: 7 Reasons @ 7pm

A little webinar update!

I’m running my 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva session next Tuesday, 2nd March 2021. 7 Reasons is my 1-hour webinar all about why you can feel confident for your viva, exploring some of the things you can do to be ready, as well as giving space for you to ask any questions you have about the process.

I’ve run the session many times since I developed it last year but this will be the first time I’ve delivered it in the evening, rather than the middle of the day. I’ve heard previously from several people who were interested in the session, but couldn’t attend at 11am.

So I started looked for a date in my diary for 7 Reasons @ 7pm! 🙂

I’ve heard from past participants of the session just how valuable it’s been for them as they come to the conclusion of their PhD journey. I’m happy I have the space to continue to offer this support. 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva is one of the things I’m glad I’ve been able to make out of the last year.

Registration is open now, and there’s an earlybird discount for anyone who books soon. If your viva is sometime this year then I think this session will really help you. Take a look at the session details here and if you have any questions, simply get in touch via email or Twitter.

I hope to see you at 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva next week! 🙂


PS: I have more sessions coming up in the next few months! Check out what’s coming soon at this my Eventbrite page.

No Peeking

You can’t somehow look ahead and know the outcome of your viva.

You can take a good guess that it will be a pass and minor corrections. You can’t grab hold like a birthday present and give it a squeeze – it’s a book/DVD/socks/chocolates!! – and know for sure what it will be like. You might have a sense that a chapter has a few typos that need fixing, or that a section will need rewriting in some way, but the details will be beyond your reach.

Rather than guess and wonder exactly what will happen, focus on doing what you can to be ready. Get your thesis done, prepare well, find your confidence, be ready to engage with your examiners’ questions. Leave the outcome and the corrections for later. Save your focus for what’s right in front of you.

No peeking!

The First Step

Getting ready for the viva could take twenty hours of work spaced out over several weeks.

What’s the first task on your list?

  • Gathering stationery supplies?
  • Reading the first page?
  • Chatting to your supervisor?
  • Clicking for a random piece of advice from a pretty good blog about the viva?
  • Asking a friend for help?
  • Or something else?

You might have worries about the viva or preparing, but once you take your first step you’re on your way to success.

What will your first step be?

Pick A Place

Following yesterday’s post, consider the environment that you’re going to work in to get ready for the viva. What can you do to make it as supportive as possible? Where will you go?

  • If you’re at home, where will you be? What could you arrange to make it a nice space for working?
  • If you’re somewhere else, what do you need to take with you? How can you find a little peace for getting what you need to do done?
  • And wherever you are, what resources could you bring together to make your viva prep space as effective as possible?

A little thought before you begin can make a great difference.

Pick A Time

If you can manage it, a little routine could be useful for helping you to get ready for the viva. Viva prep will not be the first thing that goes in your diary or on your wall planner. You’ll have other commitments and responsibilities that have to come first. The prep needs to get done though. Think carefully:

  • When are there gaps in your schedule for half an hour to an hour of considered work?
  • How could you find a time that means you won’t be too tired?
  • Is there a way to make consistent times that you can do viva prep?

Reflect a little and find times when you could get the work done. It doesn’t have to be every day, but having a routine could be useful to help you tune into the work that needs doing.

The Last Little Thing

I had read my thesis. I had made notes, lots of them. Read papers by my examiners. Had six or seven hour-long conversations with my supervisor in the almost-two months leading from submission to my viva. My viva was 10am on a Monday morning, and I had a weekend free and clear to rest, relax and check anything else I needed to check.

Which I did!

And then at 9:45am on Monday, with fifteen minutes to go before the start of my viva I knocked on my supervisor’s door and said, “Hi Hugh, can I just go over the definition of a genus 2 handlebody one more time? Thanks! It’s when…”

A basic definition was perhaps not the best thing to be checking just before my viva. It was a minor point, but a worry point – something I kept checking again and again because I was sure I was misremembering something, or that something fundamental wasn’t quite sticking in my mind.

What minor points concern you? Even little things can add up to a big worry or a heap of nerves. You don’t have to start your prep by tidying away small concerns, but nor is it a good idea to finish your prep with them either.

Best of Viva Survivors 2020: Viva Prep

Every year on the blog I finish by sharing a few days of my favourite posts from the year. We start 2020’s round-up with the important topic of viva preparation, and posts that cover many different aspects of getting ready for the viva.

What will you be doing to get ready for your viva? And have you read any other helpful posts on the topic on Viva Survivors, or elsewhere, that you could share with someone who needed help?

Tomorrow: the best of my long posts from this year!

That One Question

That one question you know you’ll struggle with.

It might be a rational concern or an irrational worry, but either way, you can do something about it. Whatever the question is about, if you know it troubles you before the viva then you can do something to prepare for it.

  • Read something.
  • Write something.
  • Think something.
  • Ask someone.
  • Make some notes.
  • Check a journal.
  • Write a response to reflect on.

If there’s a question that bothers you before the viva, then you can do something just in case it comes up.

Once & Many

There are valuable viva prep tasks that only need to be done once…

  • Sticking tabs in place to find the starts of chapters in your thesis;
  • Underlining typos;
  • Taking part in a mock viva;
  • Reading your thesis – although it’s fine to re-read it, of course!

…there are valuable viva prep tasks that help you by doing them many times…

  • Reflecting on how you’ve got so far;
  • Exploring your research in conversation with friends;
  • Finding useful ways to remind yourself of your talent;
  • Raising your confidence!

…there’s a limit for how much viva prep work you can really do, and a balance to find with everything you’ve done before and everything else you need to do now.

Find a balance that works for you.