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Oral Examinations

At various points in your studies you may be asked to attend an oral examination in connection with project or laboratory reports. These will usually last about 15-20 minutes and will be conducted by two examiners.

The function of these Vivas is:

  1. To establish that you are familiar with the material and that you are the author of the work concerned
  2. To give you experience in defending a piece of scientific work in response to probing questions
  3. To provide supplementary information to the examiners which will aid their assessment of your work
  4. To enable some feedback to be provided on your work and how it may be improved

The examiners will probably begin by asking you to give a verbal summary of the work described in your report, during which they will refrain from asking questions. Following this they will ask a number of questions which may seek clarification of specific aspects of the work or test your understanding of the written material. Finally, having indicated that the examination proper is over, they may offer advice on how you can improve such work in the future.

It should be noted that the credit associated with the oral examination is always a relatively small proportion (typically 10-15%) of the total credit available for the piece of work involved.