Frequently Asked Questions About Viva Voce Exams

I intend to submit soon. What is the first thing I need to do?

Make sure that your Director of Studies is aware that you are ready to submit the thesis, and that he/she supports the submission.

Do I need to look at the regulations?

Yes, refer to the Regulations for the Higher Degree taken by Research Thesis and ensure that you understand the examination process. The Research Office will be happy to answer any queries you might have about the examination process.

What is the correct format for the thesis?

Guidance on the correct format for the thesis is included in the Examination section of the Regulations for the Higher Degree taken by Research Thesis.

What forms do I need to complete?

Complete an (Intention to Submit) form, ask your Director of Studies to sign it, and forward it to the Research Office.

Make sure you indicate on the form if you would like your Director of Studies/supervisor to be present at the viva voce.

In addition, you will need to submit an RD17 (Candidate Declaration) form, and your thesis submission checklist, (the RD15 and RD17 must be submitted prior to, or when, submitting your thesis).

Can I submit without my Director of Studies’ agreement?

The regulations allow you to make your own decision about this, however it is best to have the agreement from your Director of Studies and to have as much support as possible. Your Director of Studies is required to sign the RD13 (Intention to Submit) form, to indicate that they support the submission. If they do not agree to the submission, the Research Office will ask them for a written statement explaining the reason/s.

How soon before submitting do I need to let the Research Office have the ?

Under normal circumstances, three months prior to submission. Make sure all relevant sections of the form are completed.

Do I need to find my own examiners?

It is the responsibility of your Director of Studies to identify examiners and to secure their agreement. The candidate does not get involved in the process of appointing examiners although your supervisors might discuss with you who they have in mind for the examination, and the reasons for this. However candidates must not communicate with the examiners about their work prior to the examination.

How many copies of the thesis do I submit to the Research Office?

You need to submit one copy for each of the examiners, one copy for the Chair plus one additional copy (which is held in the Research Office). Therefore if you have two examiners, you will need to submit four soft bound copies to the Research Office.

Where do I submit my copies of the thesis?

To the Research Office, Ground floor of the B block, Kedleston Road. The submission of the thesis is your own responsibility. You will be given a receipt on delivery. Under no circumstances should you, or your Director of Studies, send the work directly to the examiners.

How can I prepare for the viva voce?

All research students are invited to attend the research student seminar series. One of the sessions is ‘Preparing for the viva voce examination’. Candidates generally find a mock viva voce examination very useful preparation, and you should discuss this with your Director of Studies.

What sort of ambience can I expect in the viva voce examination?

Feedback from candidates suggests that this can vary, depending on the approach of individual examiners. In some cases the atmosphere is quite formal, in others a more informal approach is taken. It is best to prepare well and to expect either.

What is the viva voce process – what can I expect?

Most examiners will have identified certain questions they wish to ask, and you will need to be prepared to discuss and defend your work, the methodology, the approach you have taken etc. It is normal to be asked to carry out amendments following the examination, so don’t let difficult questions throw you off balance. The examiners are there to help you improve your work to award level. They may suggest ways that you can develop the research further. It is good if you can view the viva voce as an opportunity, irrespective of the extent of the amendments you are required to do.

How long will my viva voce last?

This varies but the average time is about 2 hours.

Following the viva voce, how long will I be given to carry out corrections/amendments?

This depends on the extent of the corrections/amendments you are asked to do. For example, if the amendments are relatively minor, you might only need a few weeks/months. If the amendments/corrections are major, the examiners might decide that you be allowed a full year (the maximum is normally 12 months).

What if I find that I need longer to undertake the revisions?

This is an unusual situation, as the examiners will have given what they believe to be a realistic deadline following the examination. However, if there are extraordinary circumstances and valid reasons why you need additional time you will need to bring this to the attention of your Director of Studies and the Research Office. You will probably be asked to put a request in writing, stating the reason/s and identifying a realistic deadline. Following this you will be informed if the examiners and/or the University Research and Research Degrees Committee grant the requested extension.

Can I send/email my corrections to the examiners directly?

No, it is very important that you submit the revised works to the Research Office (as per the regulations).

Do both examiners check my amendments?

This depends on what the examiners decided following the viva voce examination (refer to the letter sent to you by the Research Office following the viva voce). Contact the Research Office if you need clarification.

Once I have received confirmation that my amendments have been approved and that I have passed the award, what is the format for the hard bound version of the thesis?

Guidance on this, along with a sample thesis cover, can be found in the University Research and Research Degree Regulations.

What is the purpose of the British Library form?

Once your award has been approved, you are asked to complete the British Library form so that we can register your thesis with the British Library Thesis Service (please note - this does not apply to MPhil awards). The service enables other researchers to access doctoral theses via the British Library. Almost all British universities make the theses available through this service.

How can the student provide feedback on their experience of the viva voce examination and how does the University monitor this?

The University welcomes feedback from candidates and, following completion of the award, you will be sent an examinations questionnaire to complete. This provides us with valuable information on individual candidate experiences in the viva voce and their reflections on the process, which in turn helps to inform best practice guidance for future candidates.