I was invited to take part in a podcast about surviving the viva with Dr Nathan Ryder from Viva Survivors ( From my experience, I’ve kept this post regarding completing the PhD viva.


The viva wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be! I did prepare a lot though and I think preparation is paramount. Read and re-read your thesis – know your thesis and your arguments. Prepare for common questions that relate to your thesis. Practice, practice, practice.

Below are 12 commonly asked viva questions (Finn, J.A. (2005) Getting a PhD: An Action Plan to help you manage your research, your supervisor and your project. London: Routledge):

  1. Why did you choose this topic?
  2. How did you arrive at your conceptual framework?
  3. How did you arrive at your research design?
  4. How would you justify your choice of methodology?
  5. Why did you decide to use [interviews and focus groups] as your main instruments?
  6. How did you select your respondents?
  7. How did you arrive at your conceptual conclusions?
  8. How generalisable are your findings? Why?
  9. What is your contribution to knowledge?
  10. What criticisms would you make of your thesis?
  11. What are you going to do after you gain your doctorate?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your thesis

I found these websites particularly helpful:


Good luck! You’re nearly there!

About the Author Formalised Curiosity

Chloe is a freelance researcher, analyst, bid-writer and project manager. With a background in sociology and business, she blogs about research, business, technology and social sciences.

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