Common Qs About The Viva: What Should I Know About My Examiners?

I’ve been talking to PhD candidates about viva prep for over four years, and there are some questions that regularly come up at workshops. I’ve started answering some of these on this blog, but thought it might be useful to answer some of the most frequently asked questions all of this week. Let me know what you think in the comments, and please give me some questions for future posts!

What should I know about my examiners?

I think that this question is often asked in my workshops because candidates think there might be some special knowledge that they need. Like a cheat code on an early video game console, if they know the right bits of info, they will get an easy ride – or infinite turns at answering questions maybe! Of course, things don’t work like that, but there are some really useful things to know about your examiners in advance.

Many candidates know a little about their internal and external ahead of time (assuming that this is the examination team that you have; check your institution’s guidelines). Maybe you have met your external at conferences – perhaps even cited some of their papers in your thesis. And it’s likely that you’ve had the opportunity to meet your internal before, and know a little about them. There are three things though that will be really useful to know about your examiners.