Table 1: Possible outcomes of the viva at the University of Leicester

On the day itself, I think the hardest thing is waiting until 2pm (the Warwick viva time, it seems?) - it's a long morning when you're feeling anxious. My lovely supervisor took me to lunch, and although initially a bit worried that I'd lose vital preparation time it proved to be a nice distraction from the impending doom. And in the end, my viva was a really positive, even enjoyable, experience. Just a shame we don't get to do it all again!

This guide takes you through six stages of preparation for the viva and its outcome:

The PhD viva examination, or thesis defence, represents the culmination of the examination process, and how you perform at it can determine whether or not you are successful overall. It is crucial, therefore, that just as for any other kind of examination, you prepare yourself thoroughly, so that you come across well and give of your best. The outcome is too important to be left to chance.

The purpose of the viva examination is to:

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As soon as your viva ends, you will be asked to leave the room, so that examiners can freely exchange their views about your exam. The results may be communicated on the same day as the viva, but again this is not the rule and depends on your institution's stipulations and who actually holds the authority to recommend the degree.