As someone who has recently completed the process, ‘viva’ is a word which I think strikes a healthy dose of nerves among most PhD students. If you having put your heart and soul, and a lot more besides into producing a Magnum Opus, are about to undergo the ‘viva voce’, then I hope that perhaps some of these suggestions will help you feel a bit more confident about the whole thing. But do remember, some nerves are good, it means you care.
Firstly, read some general blogs on viva preparation. See for example:-
preparing for the PhD oral exam
1 gather together some examples of questions
Numerous blogs and guides suggest example questions but here are a couple of sources which I found were most useful to me:-
Sheffield University has a very good list of potential questions, as does the University of Reading in a guide entitled, The Graduate School guide to… surviving the viva http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/graduateschool/gsg_survivingtheviva.pdf
2 Try to have a mock viva
Arrange a mock viva with your supervisor and a colleague emulating the manner in which the viva will proceed. It is surprising how this can reduce pre viva nerves. It also gives an opportunity to take notes from which to formulate your plan for approaching the real thing.
3 Pre and Post notes
Before the mock viva make notes on how you think you should approach it and re-formulate these afterward to inform your plan of attack for the real viva. It is also important to research the external examiner as this may assist in predicting potential question areas.
4 On the day
Arrive early, this gives time to relax, organise and compose yourself. Know your work – this is an opportunity to let your examiners know that you are aware of the flaws in your thesis which you will have noted when reading and re-reading it time after time post submission. Remember that the examiners are there to constructively criticise, not to destroy your work.
And finally, most people going through the PhD viva process will have corrections.