Viva Survivor, Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, nervous, optimistic, uncertain but happy-to-help, I stood in front of a room of PGRs in Manchester and said, “Erm, hi, I’m Nathan, and today I want to help you explore getting ready for your viva…” I had no plans to do another one! Halfway through the session a colleague from the university said, “Oh, there was a big waiting list – when can you do another?”

I did a few for Manchester that year, then a few more the year after. Another university asked me to do one. Then a few more. All word of mouth. I started Viva Survivors as a podcast in 2012 so I could share stories and learn more for myself; I used the site as a platform to research and learn even more. More universities asked me to help. Then more!

In 2010 I did the session three or four times I think. In 2019 it was over fifty times!!!

The Viva Survivors blog has become a place for me to experiment, to share, to test ideas and refine how I express them. There’s been a lovely symbiosis between the blog and the Viva Survivor session. A question in a session becomes a new line of thinking for the blog; a neat idea on the blog becomes a cornerstone in the session.

On July 21st 2010 I was thinking, “Oh gosh, please let this go well, I hope this works, I hope people get what they need, phew this will help to pay for my wedding…” Today I’m thinking, “That went by fast! OK, how can I help candidates get what they need for their viva?”

(And, “Oh wow, it’s my tenth wedding anniversary in a few months!”)

If I’ve met you on the journey so far, thank you. Thank you to the nearly-5000 candidates I’ve met at a Viva Survivor session. Thank you to all the readers of the blog, to all the amazing people who shared their story on the podcast and to everyone who has helped me share this blog over the years.

New Viva Preparation Workshop!

Two posts in one week! 🙂

Eagle-eyed visitors to the site might have spotted a new addition to the pages; that’s a link to a description of the Viva Survivor workshop that I’ve been delivering at universities since 2010. I thought it would be useful to make that connection on here – some people know me for the podcast, some people know me for the workshop, now everyone will connect me to both.

I love doing Viva Survivor, and I’ve delivered it to almost 2000 PGRs around the UK. For the longest time I’ve wanted to deliver an independent workshop to PGRs. I plan to keep delivering the session in universities for a long time to come, but I’ve been thinking about new challenges for a while. An independent viva prep workshop that was open to PGRs from any university seemed impossible for a long time until I visited Ziferblat, a really great meeting space in Manchester.

As a result of finding that venue, I present Viva Survivor, a three hour viva preparation workshop in Manchester on the afternoon of June 29th 2016. Full details are at the Eventbrite booking page, but here’s the short version: Viva Survivor is a workshop designed to help PGRs effectively prepare for the viva. If you come then by the end of the session you will have

  • identified what examiners are looking for when they examine your thesis;
  • discussed the many ways that others can support your preparation;
  • explored valuable viva preparation methods;
  • established realistic expectations for your viva;
  • discussed common questions about the PhD viva.

I want to make this an amazing experience: I want people to leave knowing that they are set for the viva, that they know what to expect and what to do. I’m going to be providing excellent supporting materials, including ebooks, print books, handouts and more, maybe a few surprises to make people smile! And Ziferblat is going to be providing an excellent venue and refreshments for the day.

Sound good? I hope so. Please come! More details and booking is on the Eventbrite page; places are limited and while I want to run more of these in the future I have no dates or plans at the moment. Please share this with others, let them know that there is an independent workshop happening to help PhD students prepare for the viva. Come along and meet PGRs from other institutions, find out how to prepare and what to expect.

If you want to know more, then get in touch: drop me an email, tweet at me or leave a comment here! I’ll be posting details about the workshop over the coming weeks, announcing things that I’m excited about. If you want to know more now then please contact me.

Thanks for reading, and if you can, please help me share this exciting new opportunity with others.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)