series viva

Commons Qs About The Viva: What If My Mind Goes Blank?

When did your mind last go blank?

The first time for me was in Mr R’s chemistry class in high school. Like a real swot I sat on the front row, even though Mr R was intimidating and had a habit of randomly picking people to answer his questions.

One day, I was really focussing as he talked about the concentration of substances in a solvent when he suddenly said, “…and the answer is… Ryder?” and turned his piercing gaze on me. My mind crashed and I lost the last ten seconds of what he had said: deleted, file error, 404 response. I had no idea what he said, even though I had been listening and all I could do was say “Uh, not sure sir,” to which he smirked, “Not listening, eh?! Bowness, how about you?”

(the answer incidentally was “2” and the question amounted to “what is 4 divided by 2?”)

(the irony that I would go on to get a PhD in maths is not lost on me)


Common Questions About The Viva: Dress Code

Is there a dress code for the viva?

Whenever I deliver a workshop on viva preparation, I ask “What do you want to know about the viva?” 100% of the time I get asked about the lengths of vivas, but as I answered that question last week, I thought that I would ask the question I get asked at 99% of workshops: is there a dress code for the viva?

In a few institutions, there is a standard of academic attire that is required (I believe Oxford and Cambridge often asks for candidates to wear academic black dress robes); be sure to check if there are any requirements at your institution. Guidelines might be given, but more often it is the candidate’s choice to decide what they want to wear. I know people who have worn business casual to their viva, and I know people who have worn a t-shirt and ripped jeans. I also know people who have stressed over what is “the best” or “the right” thing to wear.