I recently received an e-mail for Edinburgh humanities alumni asking for authors for posts on this new series: How I Met my Viva. For American readers, the viva is the defense of the doctoral thesis (or dissertation, as it is called in the USA). It is the time where you make it or break it. I remember when one friend of mine, whom I regard as a superior scholar frankly, failed his viva.
Here is how the blog post starts, which is based on my own experience:
I had submitted my thesis to the university some months ago, but they were having a hard time finding someone who knew about converts from Islam to Christianity to be my external examiner. At the time I was living in Nazareth, which is the largest Arab city in Israel, teaching at a local seminary. After some delay my viva had been scheduled, and I decided to pick the brain of my colleague Phil Sumpter, who had recently received his PhD in Old Testament from a university in Wales. I had, of course, asked several of my friends at Edinburgh about vivas, but that was early on in my doctoral research when actually preparing for my own viva was a remote concern. I had heard horror stories—the guy who had failed and then failed again his PhD [defense], leaving the uni with student loans but no degree. I also had friends who passed with flying colors. But then there was the murky middle area, a friend who was given major corrections, which included reordering his chapters, and another one who was instructed to adopt a different theoretical framework.
Read the rest of the post at No More Blue Mondays.