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I recently had a practice viva as part of our department’s doctoral seminar series. Sure, none of the people involved had read my thesis, and sure, none of them were really in my field (other than in the broad field of Jewish studies) but I actually found it really useful. Here are some of the top points I learnt from my experience;

  • Use sticky notes to highlight the key points in your thesis, as well as highlight some bits you think might come up (pictures are a key example) It’s even better if you can colour code these – one colour for pictures, one for key evidence etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to be really specific when answering questions. Bring in names of historians, specific ideas, examples of archives/evidence etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. If you think that what the examiner is saying is wrong, then question them
  • Have an idea of where your own research fits in. If the examiner questions this be firm.
  • Realise that you know your topic. Because at this stage, if you don’t really really know what you’re talking about then chances are you haven’t really done it right and will find some big issues at the viva.
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