PhD viva examinations: best practice

Audience: Academic staff, Research supervisors

Date: Wednesday 13 March 2024

Times: 14.00 to 16.30

Programme: Academic Staff Development Programme

Key details: A workshop for academic staff new to the process of leading a viva. Discuss the challenges and how to deal with them with experienced colleagues.

Target audience

Academic staff from all disciplines who are new to examining vivas.

Course mapped to

Vitae's Researcher Development Framework domain: C1 (Professional conduct)

Course information

The PhD viva is a core part of the examination of PhD students and yet there is very little written about, and training given, in how to effectively examine PhD students.  For many examiners the only training will have been their own viva and learning from peers on the job. This workshop aims to support academics in becoming more effective examiners by exploring issues such as:

  • The University of St Andrews processes and expectations for viva examination.
  • What is regarded as best practice in terms of conducting a PhD viva.
  • How to effectively structure the viva to ensure that the process is rigorous and fair.
  • How to deal with difficult situations within the viva including challenging candidates, difficult examiners, and difficult outcomes.

The workshop will be facilitated so that participants have an opportunity to discuss their own approaches and experiences of the viva process, share best practice, and discuss the issues that they find more difficult within the viva process. The workshop will be led by an experienced facilitator who has previously worked as an academic and has examined a number of PhDs.

What previous participants have said about this course:

  • "It was excellent in all respects. The presenters were excellent and very knowledgeable. It was also very useful to hear about colleagues' experiences."
  • "Lots of practical advice on how to handle difficult situations."
  • "Very useful and helpful for understanding the expectations of examining a viva and your duties and responsibilities as an examiner.  Great for learning about aspects of the viva that you might not have considered."

Aims and objectives

By the end of this workshop you should understand:

  • The University of St Andrews processes and expectations for viva examination.
  • What is regarded as best practice in terms of conducting a PhD viva.
  • How to effectively structure the viva to ensure that the process is rigorous and fair.
  • How to deal with difficult situations within the viva including challenging candidates, difficult examiners, and difficult outcomes.

Tutors

Dr Robin Henderson

Dr Charles Warren

Venue

C5 Seminar Room, Bute Building - This venue does not have full mobility access. If you have any access requirements, please contact OSDS directly at osdscourses@st-andrews.ac.uk


Course provider

OSDS
Email: osdscourses@st-andrews.ac.uk