Is it a PhD…or not a PhD? Unpacking the viva.

I’m currently preparing for the viva, and this post has really helped me think through some of the broader questions that might get asked. It’s aimed at a social science audience, but many of the prompts apply for humanities students too.

Stuff About Unis

[There’s a sister blog to this one – a few tips on how to avoid failing your viva.]

A doctorate is a peculiar thing: there’s an indistinct finishing line, it’s hideously complex, and far more difficult than you probably imagined when you started; mine certainly was. You spend years reading, thinking, planning, worrying, collecting data, analysing and writing up, rethinking, re-editing, re-editing, and then re-editing again. By the time you get to the end, one question remains:

Is it good enough?

This is the acid test. There is no grade, it’s a pass or fail: you’re either a doctor or you’re not (yet). Within the pass, though, you have different degrees of corrections that the examiners want you to undertake: none, minor, major, resubmission. It seems that most people get minor corrections, although major corrections and resubmission do happen. Either of the latter will involve months or maybe even years of work, so you don’t want…

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