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On the day

Below is a list of suggested dos and don'ts to help you decide how to cope professionally on the day of your viva. Some of them are common sense, but it helps to clarify some of the 'unwritten' rules of good viva conduct.

It is advisable to:

  • Have something to eat before the examination
  • Get a good night's sleep the night before
  • Select an outfit to wear that's suitably professional
  • Take water and tissues with you into the examination room
  • Take an annotated copy of the thesis with you into the room
  • Greet the examiners enthusiastically with a handshake and introduce yourself
  • Make a checklist of items to finish in the week running up to the viva
  • Take a pen and paper into the examination room and take notes
  • Pick up on your examiner's cues to extend your answer to a question

It is not advisable to:

  • Re-read the thesis in the two days leading up to your examination – this will lead to information overload
  • Be defensive or paranoid
  • Throw questions back at the examiner
  • Get angry
  • Critique the system
  • Show reluctance to engage in debate with the examiners
  • Give short or one-word answers
  • Show disrespect to the examination, or not take it seriously