PhD Viva in the time of COVID-19

PhD Viva in the time of COVID-19
25th March 2020 Mae Oroszlany

During these unsettling times of the COVID-19 pandemic life does not stop but continues even if in different ways. Our LoLo CDT students don’t stop but carry on – circumstances allowing.
See below blog post about thoughts and experiences of having a PhD VIVA completely online and in full isolation – via MS Teams.

Spoiler alert!

Congratulations for passing with minor corrections!

Stay safe and Good Luck to all PhD students preparing for that one final hurdle.

‘My viva was scheduled for 23 March and it has been an anxious couple of weeks wondering if it would go ahead. UCL updated the regulations (which previously strongly discouraged a viva with all participants online) remarkably rapidly and the viva took place remotely on Microsoft Teams.
My supervisor had checked through the (recently revised) university guidance and ensured that all the participants knew how the viva was being recorded and documented so that it met with university regulations.
It was only the second time I had used Teams and I was anxious beforehand that we might have IT problems. In fact everything went smoothly and my external examiner commented that it was very similar to the experience of an in-person viva.

Some tips based on my experience:
• Practise with the meeting software that will be used for the viva, to check that your audio and video are set up right and you know how to display slides or any other material you want to share.
• Flag up immediately if you are having problems hearing the examiners, or if you need a break. My external examiner scheduled in a short break after about an hour – this was very welcome. I expect an in-person viva is a pretty intense but having to interact online possibly made it more so.
• Part way through the viva the sound quality started to deteriorate so we switched off video. The sound immediately improved. Because we had been able to see one another for the first part of the viva and the conversation was already flowing this didn’t make any noticeable difference to the interaction.
After I heard I was through with minor corrections I then moved on to my next MS teams meeting – a “virtual pub session” with my PhD colleagues – sitting by my computer with a glass of champagne.’