Assessment/Examination

The Good Viva Video aims to give general information on the format of the PhD oral examination or the viva voce  and provide tips on viva voce preparation.

The programme involves the preparation of a research based thesis under the supervision of an academic member of staff. In certain instances schools may also require an oral examination. For further information please check with your school.

The examination for the degree of PhD is based on an assessment of the research thesis and a viva voce examination where you partake in an oral defence of the thesis. A specific PhD Examination Committee is convened for your examination.

You will prepare your thesis under the direction of the Principal Supervisor and with the support of your Doctoral Studies Panel. The policy on Graduate Theses gives guidelines on the recommended format and typographical detail but there will also be school-specific guidelines for your discipline, so you should always consult with your school.

You must be a fully registered student and not owe any fees at the time when your thesis is submitted for examination. You submit to the Student Desk in the Tierney Building as many soft bound copies of the thesis as there are members on your Examination Committee. There are usually three people on the Examination Committee i.e. internal examiner, extern examiner and the Chair of the Examination Committee. The members of your examination committee are listed on the ‘UView - Student Enquiry’ Screen on your UCD student SIS Web account under the heading ‘Other Advisors’. The theses must be accompanied by a completed Research Degree Examination Form signed by both you and your Principal Supervisor.

A viva voce (oral examination) is compulsory for doctoral degrees, other than an MD. The viva voce provides you with an opportunity to defend your thesis and it assists the examiners in deciding whether or not you have met the requirements for the PhD degree. The Examination Committee will examine:

  • The originality of the work described and the theories developed in the thesis
  • Your familiarity with the published work of other authors in related areas
  • Your ability to summarise the work of other authors and to synthesise a theoretical framework within which to position the work described in the thesis

Your supervisor and School will organise the nomination and approval of your Examination Committee about three months in advance of you submitting the thesis for examination. The viva voce examination will normally be held within two months of receipt of the thesis by the examiners. It is the responsibility of the chairperson of the viva voce to make all the arrangements for the oral examination. Viva voce examinations are normally held on campus.

You will need to be prepared for a general discussion of your research area and a detailed explanation of your research and its conclusions. You also must be prepared for the examiners to approach the thesis from a different starting point than you and to emphasise different aspects of the thesis than you considered. You will be given the opportunity to defend your thesis in every respect. You should enlist some help from your supervisor in your preparation.

There are differing opinions on the value of doing a mock viva voce. Some consider this practice-run helpful in getting you talking about your research and hearing yourself speak. Talk to your supervisor about this and if you think it would help, ask them and/or other members of academic staff to put you through your paces.

You must be present, together with the Chairperson, Internal and External examiners. Your supervisor may attend in a silent capacity, if invited to do so by you, and the Chair of the Examination Committee agrees to this.

There are no rules concerning the length of time of a viva voce. Examiners have the discretion to make it as long or as short as they think necessary. Each combination of thesis, student and examiners is unique.

Once the vive voce is competed you will be invited by the chairperson to withdraw from the room so that the examiners can deliberate. The Examiners will complete a joint report which will include a recommendation to:

(a) Award the Doctoral degree – no corrections required

(b) Award the Doctoral degree – corrections required

(c) Award the Doctoral degree – revision without re-examination

(d) Revise thesis and submit for re-examination

(e) Do not award the Doctoral degree – recommendation that the candidate transfer to an appropriate graduate programme

(f) Do not award the Doctoral degree

In most cases you will be invited, through the chairperson, to hear the examiners’ provisional recommendation once their discussions are complete.

  • No corrections required:

You go directly to the submission of final thesis procedure below

  • Corrections required

This usually means that corrections will be minor, often typographical or grammatical in nature and expected to be completed within one month from the date of the viva voce. During this time your student status will be ‘for assessment’. There is no fee implication and you continue to have access to UCD facilities such as UCD Library and UCD email. Once you have completed the required corrections you should meet with your internal examiner (who is usually in charge of overseeing corrections) to review the corrections. If they are satisfied that all necessary corrections have been made then you can proceed to the submission of final thesis procedure below.

  • Revision without re-examination

In this case you will have to make more substantive revisions to the thesis or there may be gaps in the literature review, data collection, analysis or discussion that need addressing. Depending on the nature of the recommendations it may take three months to complete the corrections. In this case you are still registered as ‘for assessment’, there is no fee implication and you continue to have access to UCD facilities such as UCD Library and UCD email.

Once you have completed the required revisions you should meet with your internal examiner (who is usually in charge of overseeing corrections) to review the revised thesis. If they are satisfied that all necessary corrections have been made then you can proceed to the submission of final thesis procedure below.

  • Revise thesis and submit for re-examination

In this case more work needs to be carried out. It is likely that more primary data will need to be collected and analysed, although the examiners will outline in the thesis report the particular changes that are required. The time needed to do this will be specific to each candidate. You will need to register as a student for the period when you are completing the revision, for a minimum of one semester. Your Supervisor will decide what level of revisions are required in order for the thesis to reach the standard where it can be submitted for re-examination and they must approve the second submission on the Research Degree Examination Form. Once the revisions are complete, you will submit the required copies of the soft bound thesis to the Student Desk in the Tierney Building. The examiners will decide whether a second viva voce is required or if the re-examination can be conducted without the oral examination.

  • The candidate transfers to an appropriate graduate programme

Here, the Examination Committee deem that the research is not sufficient for the award of a PhD but merits the award of an exit degree such as a Research Master’s degree. You will not be automatically awarded a research masters or other award. You need to change registration and thethesis would need to meet the relevant award criteria for the exit degree award. If the School and Graduate School approve of the transfer to the exit degree, it will be necessary to submit one hardbound copy of the thesis that has been fully amended to reflect the change to the exit degree to the Student Desk so that the University can consider the award of the degree.

  • Do not award the Doctoral Degree

In this case the work is not deemed appropriate for any research award. You will receive a transcript for any taught modules taken during your time as a student in the University.

Once you have the verbal approval of the internal examiner that you have met the requirements of the Examination Committee you follow these steps:

Step 1. Produce a hardbound copy of your thesis

Step 2. The Internal examiner will sign the Research Degree Final Submission Form to confirm that all the necessary corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners.

Step 3. You submit the hardbound thesis to the UCD Student Desk with the signed Research Degree Final Submission Form.

The final step in the process involves the UCD Academic Council Committee on Examinations (ACCE) reviewing the recommendation of the examiners and authorising the award of the degree or otherwise. The ACCE meets once a month throughout the academic year. Once your hardcopy and e-thesis are submitted then the relevant examination documents are submitted for consideration at the next scheduled ACCE meeting. The ACCE decides on the basis of the Examination Committee report to authorise or not to authorise the award of the degree. If you have been successful you will receive, within 10 working days, an official Degree Outcome Letter from the UCD Registrar and Deputy President confirming that your PhD degree has been awarded and with the link to download your official Academic Transcript as a PDF document.

Please see Theses in Graduate Research Programmes Academic Policy for futher information.

All degrees are conferred at the next available conferring ceremony, following the approval of the degree award by the ACCE. It is not possible to defer a graduation; successful candidates who are unable to attend on the appointed day will have their degrees conferred in absentia and their testimoniums will be posted to them after the conferring ceremony. Conferring Schedule