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Name: Lois
PhD discipline: Archeology
Area(s) of work: University teaching
Year of graduation: 1997
Date of Interview: 08/06/2008

Lois - the viva
Lois recounts her positive viva experience.

How did you feel about the viva? 

The viva was fine. I had a very friendly internal examiner which was nice, that I knew from my department, which was nice cos I felt supported by him going into it so that was good, so there was only the external to worry about. So I obviously was very worried about it beforehand, I was very, very nervous about it. But it was fine and I was told at the beginning of the viva that they were going to pass it so that was fine so that made things much easier cos I could talk without worrying whether I'm putting my foot in it. And actually I found it very rewarding then, it was really nice to get the opportunity to talk to somebody new and who wasn't my supervisor, who had different ideas to my supervisor about the project in detail and in depth you know, because it was whatever, two hours or something I think it was. And I don't think you get that opportunity very often with your PhD. You're living and breathing it and sick of it probably by that stage. And your supervisor is very familiar with it, and probably already has set ideas about it. So its really nice to have the opportunity to talk to somebody in detail and a fresh – you get that a bit at conferences I suppose, but you don't usually get the opportunity to talk in depth, and certainly the people that you're talking to haven't read your material in as much depth and don't therefore understand it as much, so I think the viva was very rewarding actually in that sense.

And I think, I've spoken to other people who have had PhD viva's that were really short and sometimes people say 'oh that's great, really short, you don't have to go through it for hours' but actually they felt a bit short changed because – and I think it was because they didn't have the opportunity to talk in detail about it. So I think the viva is a very important end to the PhD and if you have a good viva we get that opportunity to really talk to somebody, even if they don't agree with you I think it's a very important finishing of it.