Viva Voce Examination

The Viva Voce

A viva voce (oral examination) is compulsory for PhD and Professional Doctorate degrees

The Viva Voce


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.

Outcomes of the Viva

Once the viva 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 – revisions required

(c) Revise thesis and submit for re-examination

(d) 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.

Once you have the approval of the internal examiner that you have met the requirements of the Examination Committee you may submit your Final Thesis


Viva FAQ

Please see answers to frequently asked questions relating to vivas

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.

Note: due to COVID-19 restrictions, vivas may take place virtually or semi-virtually. Please see here for further guidance on conducting a viva remotely. 

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.

  • No corrections required:
    You go directly to the submission of final thesis
  • Revisions required: This is used when there are changes required to the thesis but where examiners do not consider a new examination t be necessary. Revisions are typically carried out within three months if 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.
  • Revise thesis and submit for re-examination: In this case more work needs to be carried out. There may be gaps in the literature review, data collection, analysis or discussion that need addressing. 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 revisions to the thesis, for a minimum of one trimester. Your research will be supervised until the required work has been completed. Once the revisions are complete, you resubmit the thesis to the University together with the Research Degree Examination Form signed by your Supervisor. Upon submission of the thesis for re-examination, the Examination Committee shall be reconvened by the Chair of the Examination Committee to conduct a second viva voce
  • 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 the thesis 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

A virtual viva voce is where the student or a member(s) of the examination committee participate in the examination via a virtual learning platform such as Zoom.  Normally, the viva voce examination for doctoral candidates and other research degree candidates, where applicable, takes place in-person at a University College Dublin campus. It is important to note that if student or member of the examination panel wish to take part virtually then permission must be sought in advance from the Graduate Research Board (GRB). See further information here.