Surviving a viva …

Yesterday I sat ,for the whole two and a half hours, through excruciatingly painful viva of my PhD student. It was painful not because of the bad presentation or lost of words but my inability to respond to any comment made by the panel examiner. I was there as a supervisor and thus cannot at any moment open my mouth to comment , ask question, or respond to any of the issues raised. Duh! so what was I doing  being there for ?? ……I was restless …. but I was  at the same time well mannered  just for the sake of my student who has pushed herself to the limit and lived on the edge of despair all the time. Starting a PhD might be fun and glamourous where we can showoff to the others how good we are…etc. But as the time wore on the effort and motivation might be running thin. Towards the end,the struggle to finish is a mighty task. Some may survive to the finish line but many could not cope with the pressure and abandon the work altogether. I saw the ups and downs of my student throughout the years and yesterday in that room I was the proudest person on earth. Congratulations to Dr.Faridah Sh Ismail.


A viva is an oral examination to assess a PhD work of an individual whether the thesis stands and worthy of a PhD. Since the degree is about “a philosohy” of a chosen field, one must fluently argue and defend the position of the thesis through reasons and rationales. To survive a viva one must :

  • present the thesis clearly –this can be practiced before the event.
  • be fluent of the contents of the thesis–do read your thesis before the viva.
  • pick a few leading authors/articles in the area and read them thoroughly. Cite them regularly during your presentation.
  • be clear and responsive
  • not be defensive and provocative.
  • respect the examiners but firnly state your opinion.
  • show seriousness, do not giggle or make any funny remarks. must remember this is an official examination.
  • remember that you are the only person know this subject inside out. remain calm and confident.
  • admit if there is a mistake in your presentation or thesis and justify your understanding.
  • always think that if I could endure the pressure for the past three or four years I can do this as well.

At the end of it be thankful for you have survived one of the most difficult situations in your life……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s