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Practice Viva

Giving and receiving feedback

Make the most of any opportunity to practice fielding questions. This can be done with 1 or 2 PhD colleagues. If there are three in the group then one person will assume the position of the independent chair. The Viva Interviewer Software will help candidates to discuss their responses with a supervisor or a PhD colleague.


  • Think carefully about your responses
  • Respond as clearly and concisely as you can
  • Try to be confident when answering questions, think carefully about how you structure your answers


  • Ask the examinee each question in turn:
  • Please summarise your thesis
  • Summarise your key findings
  • What is original about your thesis?
  • What are the strongest/weakest parts of your work?
  • What are the main issues/debates in your subject area?
  • Really challenge the examinee.  This means asking them to clarify their responses if their answers appear to be too vague or not clear enough.
  • Note down anything which you want to feedback to the examinee in your ‘debrief’ – this is vital to the feedback loop.
  • Be as constructive as possible.
  • Consider the following things when giving feedback to the examinee:
  • Clarity of their responses
  • Body language
  • Depth of their response
  • Structure of answers
  • Points for improvement

The Chair

  • Observe the candidate’s and the examiner’s conduct.
  • Add questions/responses following the session to aid the examiner in giving feedback to the candidate