Surviving the Viva

In my last post I shared my elation at having finally submitted my PhD thesis; now I have another reason to be euphoric: I passed the viva voce! 

I had to endure just over two months of angst, waiting for the external and internal examiners to scrutinise my thesis, confer on the key points for discussion and agree a date for the viva.

The timing was perfect; the viva took place on Wednesday 2 April, two days before my birthday. I had always hoped that I would be able to mark my birthday with the completion of my PhD and the odds worked in my favour.

In preparation for the viva I read through my thesis, trying to anticipate the questions that the examiners would ask me. That is all you really can do.

It’s also a good idea to prepare a short statement about your thesis as certainly the first question you will be asked is: “tell us about your research”.

I met with my supervisors about an hour before the viva. My second supervisor, Dr Michael Goddard assured me that I should be fine and that it was a privilege to have the opportunity to defend your thesis in person.

My first supervisor, Prof George McKay assured me that the whole process would be quite congenial and knowing that I “love to talk” cautioned me to “only answer the questions asked and no more”.

Despite following his advice, I still had to endure two and a half hours of the most intense questioning. Even George was surprised at the grilling I was subjected to.

However, while we waited anxiously for the results, he assured me that I had defended my thesis well and gave good answers. From my perspective, the examiners were merely carrying out their tasks with conviction.

Some points were raised about the significance of my research that I hadn’t previously considered that can enhance its impact beyond the scope I mentioned in my thesis.

When we returned to learn the outcome, I was relieved to hear the words from the Chair: “I’m pleased to tell you that you have successfully passed your viva.”

Handshakes with the examiners and chair and a warm hug from George sealed the event. We then celebrated at the pub next door and spoke about possibilities for the future.

I have some minor corrections to make before the thesis is immortalised in hardbound covers and is added to Salford’s repository, as is normal practice.

Now the important task begins of developing my academic career which includes redefining my research interests and submitting more journal articles .

My prizewinning paper Alternative Voices in Alternative Spaces: Counterhegemonic Discourse in the Blogosphere, extracted from my thesis will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in a peer-reviewed book in 2015 called Media, Margins and Civic Agency.

I will be going through my thesis thoroughly after making the corrections to see what other journal articles I can extract from it. My target is four.

I am also considering applying for a postdoctoral fellowship while keeping a look out for new teaching and research posts.

In earnest, gaining a PhD feels like the beginning, rather than the end of my academic journey.