Virtual Viva Voce Examination

Virtual Viva Voce Examinations

Version date: 24 Oct 2023

Normally the viva voce examination for doctoral students and other research degree students, where applicable, will take place in person at a UCD campus. However, under exceptional circumstances, permission to conduct a viva voce virtually may be sought. Potential reasons for conducting a virtual viva voce are discussed below; however, it is important to note that if it is proposed that any member of the Examination Committee and/or the student take part virtually, then permission must be sought in advance from the Graduate Research Board (GRB) via the mechanism below. 

Potential reasons for conducting a viva voce virtually

  • The most suitable Extern Examiner is (a) located at a significant distance from the university thus prohibiting travel or (b) unable to travel.

  • The candidate has returned to their home country and due to exceptional circumstances is unable to travel to Ireland for an in-person viva voce.

  • The student or a member of the Examination Committee are unable to attend the viva voce in person due to health or accessibility reasons.

In the event that the need for a virtual viva voce is identified, it is expected that this assessment would be a blend of in-person and virtual attendance with the emphasis on the student and UCD members of the Examination Committee attending in person and on campus (unless one of the reasons above, or another of similar significance, applies).  

The Chair of the Examination Committee should ensure that all of the Virtual Viva Voce Guidelines below are in place before, during and after a virtual viva voce. For this reason, the form to request to conduct a viva voce virtually should only be completed and submitted by the Chair. A request for a virtual viva voce should be made at least two weeks prior to the assessment.

Virtual Viva Voce Request Form

Virtual Viva Guidelines

  • Approval for conducting a virtual viva voce is through the Chair of the Graduate Research Board.
  • Written agreement must be obtained by all parties to conduct the viva voce virtually. In particular, the candidate MUST support the decision to conduct the viva voce virtually. If all parties do not agree, the viva voce must be delayed until an in-person viva can be held.
  • Use of a virtual viva voce cannot be used as grounds for appeal.
  • Normally the Extern Examiner will be the member of the examining committee that is participating in the viva voce remotely.
  • Normally the Chair, the Intern Examiner and the candidate will be in the same location. Where a viva voce is to be held both on campus and virtually, it is recommended that the Chair of the Examination Committee is present with the candidate on campus.
  • Zoom is the recommended online platform to be used, which is supported by UCD IT Services.
  • The viva voce must not be recorded and the Chair must ensure that they opt out of Zoom IQ Meeting Summary.
  • In each location, measures should be taken so that appropriate conditions are in place to ensure minimal disruption, security and integrity of the examination.
  • All parties should be able to see one another at all times during the viva voce.
  • No viva voce is to be conducted by audio or phone.
  • A virtual private network (VPN) may be required where the intellectual property of the thesis needs to be protected.
  • If a presentation is required, this may be facilitated through screen sharing or distributing the presentation to members of the examining committee through the Chair of the Examination Committee.
  • Time differences must be considered to ensure that the candidate is not disadvantaged.
  • A test of the virtual platform must be conducted prior to the commencement of the viva voce.
  • Normally, if communication is broken during the viva voce and a connection cannot be re-established, the examination must be terminated and rescheduled. However, where the Examination Committee agrees that a truncated viva voce provides the basis for a positive recommendation, this recommendation may be taken. No recommendation to fail a candidate can be taken where a viva voce is interrupted.
  • Any rescheduled examination should normally take place within one month of the original viva voce date.
  • The Examiners’ report must include a statement that the viva voce was conducted virtually.

The procedures for a virtual viva voce, which are aligned with an in-person viva voce, are:

  • The Chair of the Examination Committee is responsible for ensuring all the arrangements for conducting the viva voce are in place. In a virtual viva voce, the role of the Chair includes completing the online Virtual Viva Voce Request Form, verifying the identity of the student, observing the student for signs of stress and adhering to University viva voce regulations.
  • Extern and Intern Examiners must submit their preliminary reports in good time. The Extern and Intern Examiners must read each other’s individual report in advance of the viva voce. At the start of the virtual viva voce examination and before the candidate is admitted to the examination, the Chair, Extern Examiner and Intern Examiner should discuss their approach to the viva voce.
  • Following the viva voce, the candidate must leave the virtual meeting to allow the Examiners to discuss a recommendation. The candidate can be placed in a 'waiting room' by the Chair, using Zoom.
  • Once a recommendation is agreed, the candidate is invited to rejoin the meeting to be advised of the outcome of the examination.
  • If the Examiners agree on the recommendation, a joint report is submitted by the Chair to the ACCE via the eThesis Examination System.
  • If the Examiners do not agree on the recommendation, separate reports are submitted by the Chair to the ACCE.

NB: these guidelines should be used in conjunction with the examination policies outlined by UCD Assessment.

Testing the IT platform

  • The Chair of the Examination Committee should organise a preliminary meeting of the Examination Committee using the same Zoom address in advance of the virtual viva voce to test the IT Platform.
  • The Chair should ensure that the practice Zoom meeting with the Examiners is operating correctly and allow sufficient time to do this. After the IT Platform has been shown to work, the Chair should spend time with the Extern and Intern Examiners discussing how the viva voce will run.
  • It is recommended that the Chair should hold a separate practice Zoom meeting with the candidate. At this practice session, the candidate can trial the technology used, including the ability to give a presentation, the function of being placed in the waiting room, and how to come in and go out of a Zoom meeting (which they will need to do at the end of the viva voce).


  • An examination may run up to 2.5 hours from beginning to end, thus a short break may be appropriate after approximately 45 minutes or so. 
  • The Wi-Fi connection on all sides should be tested in advance to make sure it is functioning solidly.
  • If using a laptop computer, ensure that the laptop has sufficient power and access to a power source and functioning charger.
  • If a participant does not have a solid internet connection, they should see if they can safely establish a connection elsewhere. If this cannot be resolved in a timely manner or the connection remains an issue, the viva voce may need to be rescheduled.

Computer and Zoom logistics

  • The Chair should have a contingency plan in place prior to the viva voce if Zoom does not work (e.g. plan to reschedule or use alternative technology). 
  • The virtual viva voce must not be conducted by phone or audio as all parties of the Examination Committee should be able to see one another at all times. Google Meet is an alternative video conferencing solution, supported by UCD IT services. 
  • It is suggested that the Extern Examiner have an e-copy of the thesis to hand and to share the relevant page on screen when posing questions. 
  • Although the Chair should be on screen at all times, it is suggested that they are muted (with the volume on so they can hear). 
  • As supervisors are not part of the Examination Committee, if they have been invited to attend virtually, they should switch off video and mute themselves.
  • The default is for Zoom to record a session and this should be switched off by the Chair, and they must also ensure that they opt out of Zoom IQ Meeting Summary.
  • It is recommended that more than one attendee at a Virtual Viva be designed as a ‘host’ in Zoom. This should help ensure that the session stays open in the event of an outage and make it easier for other attendees to rejoin (if possible).