Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Generic viva questions

Rowena Murray provides a set of questions for the viva, both in her 2003 book and in this pdf file from Strathclyde. Supervisors sent me a copy of Andrew Broad's Nasty PhD Viva Questions, which you can find as pdf here.
Before my mock viva, I attempted written answers to all of these, which was interesting because of my initial and my thought-out reactions. For example:
What is the area in which you wish to be examined?
Er, no thank you. I don't wish to be examined. No! Start again.
In one sentence, what is your thesis?
My thesis is that engagement between people is a cyclic and self-reinforcing phenomenon that can be analysed in terms of six interacting behaviours and conditions that form cycles, that might be described as threads, banners or wedges.
But these were generic questions so not as useful as the specific questions that my mock examiner thought up after reading my thesis, like for example,
Why is engagement important to be studied in a public sector context?
I addressed such the question of why the public sector here two years ago, because of
"the conviction that government is given crucial work that society very much needs to have performed well"
Why is engagement important to the public sector? Because a common cause of project failure is lack of effective engagement with stakeholders (OGC, 2002) and in the public sector, engagement is “a critical element of a consulting project” (NAO, 2006a).

Murray, R. 2003. How to Survive Your Viva : Defending a Thesis in an Oral Examination. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
NAO (2006a) Central Government's use of consultants: Building client and consultant commitment. IN NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE (Ed.). HMSO.
OGC (2002) Common Causes of Project Failure. National Audit Office and the Office of Government Commerce.

1 comment:

Stephanie Brown said...

Well, at least it would be easier for you to be comfortable to defend the thesis having a mock viva. And I think it would be great to be comfortable to avoid problems in front of the thesis committee. Anyway, I do hope everything went well with your thesis project.