Student Life

Creating together

Hugo (Hao) Du

3 minute read

Hello researchers, thanks again for coming back to my blog series. Let’s talk about your PhD journey’s ‘Final Destination.’  

To obtain a PhD, you are not only required to submit a well-written thesis, but you also need to perform an oral presentation regarding your research. Also known as a PhD Viva, the examination process is one of the final stages in the postgraduate research student lifecycle. The general information can be found at Newcastle University’s website: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/student-progress/pgr/activities/examination/.

Viva-related topics are commonly involved in our daily life. I do not want to lie to you, it is ‘terrifying’ to face 2-3 experts in your research area whilst trying your best to answer questions about your study. That is also why we use ‘defence’ to describe the process of viva examination. There is a room near the PhD office called the ‘Viva room’. If we saw one of our colleagues dressed formally, looking smart and holding the hardcopy of their thesis and going to that room, we knew it was the time to expect the ‘birth’ of another Doctor. 

We are often asked about the experience of the viva examination. Is it difficult? Was I nervous? Yes, and yes! I guess it is typical to be stressed when answering professional questions, especially from experts. However, it turned out it was not as bad as I imagined. I was super worried for the first 10 minutes, but I became more relaxed and confident as time passed. One of my colleagues once told me after her viva that it was challenging, but also maybe the only time someone listened to her research carefully and provided constructive suggestions to improve her work. Treating your examiners politely as the audience interested in your study, answering their questions confidently and accepting guidance with a humble attitude will be the best way to defend your viva successfully. 

After 2-3 hours of the oral examination, your examiners will let you wait outside of the room (or Zoom during the pandemic) while discussing the result of your viva. The viva result will also be informed to you when you are welcomed back to the venue, usually starting with 6 months of correction. And now is the time to announce yourself as a DOCTOR. Enjoy a glass of prosecco with your supervisors and examiners if you are allowed, and I am sure all of your colleagues are waiting to celebrate your big success. 

Do you think that is all? Of course not!

After a great rest, it is time to check the viva report from your examiners. Many detailed and approachable recommendations will be listed in the report. You must follow the suggestions to correct your thesis and re-submit within the decided correction period. Remember to do proofreading before the final submission. And now… Congratulations, Dr! You just need to wait for your certificate and ceremony. You deserve a BIG celebration!

So far, your PhD journey has been wholly and beautifully finished. However, your research journey has just begun. 

When one chapter ends, another always begins. 

Thanks again for reading my blogs, and I wish you all the best. 

View all my PhD blogs here: My PhD Journey – Hugo Du 

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