Viva - Prof Doctorate

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
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Viva - Prof Doctorate

Post by cascina » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:32 am

Hi there

I am currently waiting on a date for a viva for a professional psychology doctorate (as opposed to PhD). I am not sure what to expect in this - most of the advice I can find is on PhD vivas. Would anyone have any advice or guidance about this process?

Many thanks


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Re: Viva - Prof Doctorate

Post by AnsweringBell » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:38 am

Hey Cascina - I'm not sure how transferable people's individual experiences of vivas would be (I understand that a lot depends on the university and the external examiner, and of course the actual programme) - I can tell you a bit about mine though. For the clinical at UEA, it lasted around an hour and included an internal examiner from my department (but not connected to my research) and an external who was a bit connected to the field. I half recall my thesis supervisor asking me to look around for a list of people who might be in the field and working in this country, but we didn't end up with any of them.

My mind's blanked out the specifics about what I was asked, but it wasn't too scary, and my examiners gave me the heads up at the beginning that there were no huge issues, and it was a passable thesis. So the hour was mainly asking me specifics about my methodology, why I'd made some of the decisions I had, some specifics about my findings... it was just generally not that bad. Broader questions about my interest in the field... but generally, it was an hour long chat about a piece of work that I knew well. That was all that was needed for mine, to be honest - an in depth knowledge of my thesis, and some critical thinking about it and what wasn't great about it. So I went through it first and picked every spelling mistake and error I could find, and thought about which were the dodgy, less than perfect bits of the research. Then pre-thinking about why I did what I did at any given stage.

I think they just wanted to hear me give a decent account of the work, and they weren't invested in giving me lengthy corrections.

But again, I don't know how transferable that'll be - even within my specific cohort, people had very different experiences depending on the 2 examiners in the room. I think I did get somewhat lucky there.

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Re: Viva - Prof Doctorate

Post by miriam » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:21 pm

I also think it varies. I've been an external examiner and participated in a viva, and I've had two of my own. None were terribly painful. But I've worked with colleagues who have had much more negative experiences - I'm not sure if that reflects the personalities involved or the quality of the work.

You should be able to have your supervisor sit in for moral support, though they are not supposed to speak. The main role is to show you did the work yourself, and that you understand the context, methodology, stats and implications of your findings. Some external examiners want to know whether you have read particular strands of research that might be relevant, or considered concepts that are related but not mentioned in the thesis. They might want to know that you have enough data to reach power for your conclusions, and why you chose the methodology that you did, how it fits with and contradicts other findings. And they'll identify any changes that need to be made, from typos to reanalysing and rewriting - but I'd be disappointed if major amendments were required and the internal supervisor hadn't given feedback about shortcomings that would warn this was likely.

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