You might not enjoy your viva (and that’s okay)

Kirsten J Lees

I recently had my PhD viva, and I passed with minor corrections. Everyone congratulated me, but actually I felt like a failure. Why? Because I didn’t enjoy my viva.

As I was preparing for the exam I was given lots of encouragement from my supervisors and from my friends who had already gone through it. One thing I heard more than anything else was ‘You’ll enjoy it!’ People told me this in conversation, I heard it on podcasts, and I read it in blogs.

Enjoy it!

The pervasive narrative as you approach your viva is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have two experts focused entirely on your work. Once you get past your initial nerves, you should enjoy discussing your work at a high level. And that’s great, if it happens for you. I’m definitely not trying to say that you shouldn’t enjoy your viva.

My problem was that I…

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