Lights, camera, action
Vivas may be held fully online, in person or with one or more parties joining remotely. It is not necessary to receive approval from the Doctoral College prior to making arrangements for the video conference, although you will be asked to confirm by email that you are happy to proceed in this way.
Guidance on conducting vivas by video conference for staff and examiners is also available.
Before your viva
Before agreeing to attend your viva by video conference you should consider whether you have suitable equipment allowing audio and video communication, a reliable internet connection and access to an appropriate private location, free from any distractions or interruptions for the duration of the viva. You should also be aware that, if you agree to participate by video conference, the decision to use a video conferenced format for your viva cannot be used as grounds for an appeal.
You should agree with your examiners which platform will be used to host your viva. This should be a secure platform that has video and audio capability. Once an agreement has been reached, we would recommend making yourself familiar with the software, perhaps by holding a test call to ensure that your equipment is compatible and you are confident in using the features. If you have any concerns about the chosen platform you should raise these as soon as possible.
Consider arranging a mock viva - the Researcher Development Team will be putting into place opportunities to have a practice viva. This may be with PGR/ Staff specialists in your area or PGR/ Staff colleagues from related departments. We are hoping that colleagues will offer themselves to this pool of support. In both cases, whether you want to offer support or take an opportunity to have a practice online, please in the first case, contact Michele Underwood, Researcher Development Manager.
Further information on preparing for your viva is available on the Researcher Skills Moodle.
We advise departments to consider appointing an examination advisor to be present at vivas held by video conference. This is not an extra examiner, but instead an independent person who will ensure that the viva runs smoothly and in line with University requirements.
If you are required to give a presentation as part of your viva, you should send this to your examiners before your viva starts to ensure that they have access to it.
During your viva
Your internal examiner/examination advisor will need to verify your identity – please make sure you have your student ID card to hand.
As with a face to face viva, you can ask your examiners to repeat or rephrase a question, pause while you consider your answer or ask for a short break if you feel you need it.
You should try to ensure that you are in a quiet location where you will not be interrupted. Ensure that you are comfortable and have everything you may need to refer to close at hand e.g. a copy of your thesis, water etc.
If there are any technical/connectivity issues during your viva, attempts to reconnect should be made immediately. In the event of prolonged loss or poor quality of connection, your internal examiner/examination advisor may stop the viva – you will be notified by telephone or email. In the event that your viva is stopped due to technical issues, your examiners will consider whether they can reach a decision based on your performance up to that point, or if it is necessary to reconvene – you should be updated on what is happening as soon as possible.
You will need to leave the video conference while your examiners discuss your performance and agree on a recommendation – your examiners/examination advisor should tell you how and when they will contact you to let you know the outcome.
After your viva
Think about what you will do immediately after your viva e.g. arrange a call with your supervisor or celebrate (remotely) with friends. What can you do to celebrate your achievement?
Finally, good luck!
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