How to start a Phd Viva Voce

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Published Date:04-07-2017
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Quick Answers Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce Examination This is intended as a source for quick reference on the examination process. Please see the Policy and Procedures for Conducting Remote Viva Voce (Viva) Examinations for Research Degrees document for full details; if you have any questions, please contact student support. 1. What does Viva Voce mean? Viva Voce literally means ‘live voice’. 2. Why do we have a Viva Voce? According to the University’s Postgraduate Research Handbook “The objective of the viva examination is to allow students the opportunity to explore, clarify and defend their 1 research in the presence of academic leaders in their chosen discipline area” (p.8). 3. Why is the Viva Voce sometimes referred to a defence? The Viva Voce should be a focused academic discussion whereby as the student you answer questions posed by the examiners in a manner that reflects your knowledge base surrounding your doctoral research study. In this way, you should be able to provide a reasoned rationale (defence) underpinning your doctoral study. 4. What happens at the Viva Voce? The processes involved in the Viva Voce are specified in the Policy and Procedures for Conducting Remote Viva Voce (Viva) Examinations for Research Degrees for 2014-2015 (Approved June 2014). It is important that you are conversant with these regulations therefore re-reading these in the lead up to your Viva Voce is important. You can access these here. 1 Postgraduate Research Handbook administration/research/documents/UoL,-,PGR,handbook,201314,V1.pdf Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce 5. On what basis is the viva voce assessed? EdD Programme The thesis and the viva are assessed according to the assessment criteria from the programme specification for the EdD:  Intellectual, ethical and methodological soundness of the practitioner research, including coverage of areas indicated as relevant to the construction of a practitioner research thesis.  Critical analysis, informed by consideration of a range of factors pertinent to the doctoral level, such as the application of research technique and limitations on the extent to which knowledge is actionable.  Contribution to knowledge and practice, and to own personal and professional learning.  Adherence to appropriate academic standards of written communication, in keeping with formal requirements on the style and presentation of dissertations.  Defence of thesis in an oral examination, judged further in relation to the capacity of the candidate to respond comprehensively and robustly to questions posed by the assessors The assessment criteria for the DBA programme will be provided later. 6. Will my thesis supervisor be present at the Viva Voce? As per the University regulations your supervisor will not be present at the viva examination. 7. How long will the Viva Voce last? There is no standard time set for the Viva Voce. In practice, the Viva Voce often lasts between 1 and 2 hours. Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce 8. What are the possible outcomes of the viva? Following the viva voce examination and a review of all previous performance in the programme, the Examiners may recommend (subject to the University’s Framework for Online Professional Doctorates): i. that the degree of Professional Doctorate be conferred; ii. that the degree of Professional Doctorate be conferred subject to the candidate making minor modifications to the thesis, which do not alter the substance of the thesis in any significant or fundamental manner to the satisfaction of one or more the Examiners as may be agreed between them, within a period of no longer than 6 months, provided that this period of time does not exceed the maximum period of registration of the candidate on the programme. iii. that the candidate be permitted to re-submit the doctoral thesis on one occasion only within a prescribed re-submission period which should be no less than 6 months and no more than two years and re-submit for the award of Professional Doctorate, provided that this period of time does not exceed the maximum period of registration of the candidate on the programme. A second viva examination will normally be held but this may be waived at the discretion of the Examiners; iv. that the thesis has not met the required doctoral standard and that the degree of Master is awarded; v. that the candidate be deemed not to have attained the standard required for the Professional Doctoral degree and that no award be made and there be no further opportunity for examination. This decision would be made only where the Examiners have determined that the student has engaged in academic misconduct to such an extent as to render the candidate ineligible for either the Professional Doctorate. Examiners should determine whether or not, under these circumstances, the candidate is eligible to receive any exit award. Suspected cases of plagiarism or fabrication of data should be handled in accordance with the University of Liverpool’s ‘Policy on Plagiarism and Fabrication of Data for Postgraduate Research Programmes’. Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce Under normal circumstances a re-submitted thesis that has been subject to major modifications would be re-examined by viva voce examination with the same Examiners, unless the Examiners decide otherwise. Following the re-examination of a thesis, the Examiners are permitted to recommend only outcomes (i) (ii) (iv) and (v) as listed above. Candidates will not be allowed a further period of re-submission. 9. How can I prepare for my Viva Voce? There are a number of activities and resources to help you prepare for your Viva Voce and these are presented below. There is no material difference between the PHD Viva Voce and that of a DBA/EdD. Good Viva Video "Viva interviews" - One of a series of videos on YouTube from the University of Nottingham that feature interviews with successful candidates after their viva and cover key questions of concern to many candidates. "Viva survivors" - Podcasts by Nathan Ryder (PhD, University of Liverpool) with recently successful PHD candidates, about postgraduate research, the viva and life after the PhD. All the above available from: prep.htm Resources resources/ 10. What is a Mock Viva Voce? A Mock Viva Voce is a way of having the experience of being questioned about your thesis by someone who has not been directly involved in your doctoral research project and before you are formally examined. Your primary supervisor is responsible for conducting a Mock Viva with you in good time for you to prepare for the actual examination. You should ask your Primary Thesis Supervisor for more information. 11. How will my thesis be examined? The doctoral thesis will be examined by at least two Examiners one of whom will be external to the University of Liverpool and Laureate Online Education. Where the candidate is a member of staff of the University of Liverpool or of Laureate Online Education, or where the candidate’s employment with any other organisation may Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce require additional external scrutiny to ensure sufficient independence within the examination process, two External Examiners will be appointed in addition to an Internal Examiner. The remote Viva Voce examination is part of the assessment process in the online doctoral programmes of the University of Liverpool. The candidate, the Internal Examiner(s) and/or External Examiner(s) are normally engaged in the audio and visual defence of the doctoral thesis remotely, at separate locations in or outside the UK. 12. How do I know who the examiners are that are appointed to conduct my Viva Voce Examination? The Examiners are appointed by the University of Liverpool and must meet the Universities criteria.You will receive an email from the departmental administrator of the University of Liverpool confirming the date and location of your viva voce examination. The email will include also the names of the appointed external and internal examiners. 13. How will I know when my Viva Voce Examination will be scheduled? The University of Liverpool will contact you in regards to the arrangements for the remote viva examination and agree on a mutually acceptable time. 14. How will the Viva Voce examination be conducted? Your viva voce examination will be normally conducted using videoconference. 15. Who will send me the videoconference invite and when will I receive this? Who do I contact if I don’t receive this by the expected date? The department administrator for the programme will send the invitation to the videoconference. Please see contact details below in question 25. 16. Can I ask for the Viva Voce Examination to take place at the University of Liverpool? Students studying for a professional doctorate online may request that they come to Liverpool in person for their viva examination but they must have good reason for the request and it should be made at the time when they submit their thesis, if not before. Such requests should be submitted to the University’s online Programme Director (Dr. Peter Kahn in case of the EdD Programme and Dr. Lisa Anderson, in case of the DBA programme), in writing, normally at least three months prior to the expected timing of the viva. Under these circumstances it would be expected that some of the examiners would still conduct the viva examination from remote locations, but that at Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce least one of the examiners, or the independent chair, would be in the same room as the student. 17. Would there ever be an occasion when the University of Liverpool would decide that my Viva Voce Examination would have to take place at the University of Liverpool? Yes. The University can require the viva voce examination to be conducted at Liverpool should it decide there is adequate reason, e.g. questions of authenticity, cases of suspected plagiarism, collusion or fabrication of data or technical problems with the videoconferencing tool during the Viva Voce examination. In these circumstances students would be expected to make travel arrangement at their own expenses. It is not possible to appeal against the decision of the University to require attendance in person. 18. What are the technical requirements of the Viva Voce Examination? You need to make sure you have the required technology available: a) IP VIDEO CONFERENCE SUITE CONNECTION If participating from a video conference suite, this must be a system that connects over IP (H323) and should have a minimum connection speed of 1Mbps. b) DESKTOP / LAPTOP PARTICIPANTS Desktop Videoconferencing (JVCS Desktop) is only supported on PCs or laptops running Microsoft Windows™ software. It is not supported on PCs or laptops running MAC or Linux operating systems. If you have a PC or Laptop, the following are the minimum requirements for a successful connection:  PC or laptop running Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or higher), Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 or higher), or Windows 7;  Dual-core processor;  1GB RAM minimum;  Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce  Network connection via a cable connection preferably not wireless (e.g. office network or home broadband);  Webcam;  Headset with microphone - either USB or 3.5mm jack plugged directly into to the (pink) microphone socket and (green) speaker socket ports. In order to download, install and test the Desktop Videoconferencing software please see 19. What can I do if I need technical support in order to access the videoconferencing facilities for the Viva Voce Examination? Technical Support for Janet Video conferencing is delivered by v-scene Management Centre, Tel: 0131 650 4933 (from the UK) or 00 44 131 650 4933 (from outside the UK) Fax: 0131 650 6552 (from the UK) or 00 44 131 650 6552 (from outside the UK) Operational hours Monday to Friday: 0800 - 2100 Saturday: 0800 - 1700 You can book videoconferences 24/7, 365 days a year. Operational support is provided during the hours stated above, excluding New Year's day, Good Friday, Christmas day and Boxing day. Additional cover may be provided out of hours on request, at a cost. If you require out of hours support, please email the v-scene operational support team or call 0131 650 4933 in the first instance. The Janet Service Desk’s response time is normally 2 business days. 20. What are my options if the computer I intend to use for the Viva Voce Examination runs on MAC or Lynux? At the moment it is not possible to use MAC or Lynux for the Viva Voce Examination. 21. What happens if the internet connection is not stable and disrupts the Viva Voce examination? All remote viva examinations must be conducted using visual as well as audio interaction. It is forbidden for any viva examination to be conducted only by audio, such Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce as telephone. Should visual links fail, the viva examination must be suspended and re- scheduled. Under such circumstances, the Examiners will decide what proportion of the viva examination has been completed and what issues would be covered in any re- scheduled viva examination. 22. What happens if due to unstable internet connection the Committee decides to conduct the examination in Liverpool? Who will pay for the travel and accommodation costs? The student is liable to pay for the costs. 23. Can I appeal the decision of the Examiners? Candidates, whose thesis has been examined remotely under the current policy, are eligible to submit an appeal against the decision of the Examiners in accordance with the Research Degree Appeals Procedures. Please note that once they have signed the Declaration (Annexe 3) candidates are not able to submit any appeal simply on the grounds that their thesis was examined remotely. They will need to demonstrate that the conduct of the remote viva examination constitutes grounds for appeal as set out in the Research Degree Appeals Procedures. 24. Where do I send my agreement related to the policies, terms and conditions of the Viva Voce Examination? The student administrator at the University of Liverpool will contact you to request this information. 25. Who can I contact if I need further advice on the processes and procedures of the Viva Voce Examination? You can contact the departmental administrator for further advice. For the EdD programme the departmental administrator is Robin Sellers. (Contact details:; or +44 151 794 2490) For the DBA programme the PGR administrator is Tracy McCrann. (Contact details: 26. How will I find out the results of the Viva Voce Examination? Who will inform me? You will receive the feedback on the day of your Viva Voce Examination as part of the examination feedback. The official confirmation of the result will be sent by the University of Liverpool after the Viva Voce Examination. Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce 27. Can I re-schedule the Viva Examination? If so, how? Students will have the opportunity to agree on a mutually acceptable date and time for the Viva Voce Examination. Postponement of a scheduled remote viva examination should be exceptional. With the agreement of the Internal Examiner students may postpone the viva examination on one occasion and only for good reason. Technical problems with the videoconferencing tool or extenuating circumstances (e.g. serious illness) are considered exceptional circumstances. 28. Are there costs associated with the re-scheduling of the Viva Voce Examination? There is no additional fee but it is preferable to avoid a re-schedule as it can be difficult to get all parties back together at the same time. 29. Where can I find details about the Research Degree Appeals Procedure? Further information on the Research Degree Appeals Procedure can be found at administration/research/documents/Regulations,for,Research,Degree,Appeals.pdf 30. Is there further reading I can work my way through? Yes, there are a number of resources which are presented below. Further reading Nasty PhD Viva Questions - by Dr Andrew Broad: an excellent collection of questions and guidance. BrainwareMap for Creative Learning, PhD viva , a page of basic advice and further references Guardian article, "Survive your viva, by Rowena Murray. Further tips and advice from the author of " How to write a Thesis" (2002) The Matazone blog - A blog entry by a student, Dr Harris, who has just passed their viva, with some interesting positive reflections on their experience. Books accessible through the Library electronic resources Murray, R. (2011) Chapter 10 After the Thesis Examination: More Writing? In How to Write a Thesis. Maidenhead, Open University Press. Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce Murray, R. (2009). How to Survive Your viva. Defending a thesis in an oral examination. Maidenhead, Open University Press. Tinkler, P., Jackson, C. (2004). The doctoral examination process: a handbook for students, examiners and supervisors, Maidenhead, Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press. nd Petre, M., Rugg, G. (2010). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research. 2 ed. Maidenhead, Open University Press although this text refers to the PhD, Chapter 15 entitled ‘The Viva’ is worthy of a read. Pearce, L., Murray, R. (2004). How to Examine a Thesis, Maidenhead, Open University Press. Trafford,V., Leshem, S. (2008). Stepping Stones to Achieving Your Doctorate: By Focusing on Your Viva from the Start. Maidenhead, Open University Press. Wellington, J., Bathmaker, A-M., Hunt, C., McCulloch, G., Sikes, P. (2005). Chapter 10 ‘Presenting your work at the Viva’ pp. 179- 197 in Succeeding with your Doctorate. London, Sage. Doctoral Thesis Viva Voce