Doing your viva in Politics has been revolutionised by a new mock viva video for Ph.D. students.
Politics PGR Director Professor Tony Zito and Kate Manzo (Geography) realised that students often were not attending or were not paying attention to more traditional approaches to preparing students for their viva, so he decided to show them exactly what to expect by making a video.
Tony said: ‘A lot of students were just not coming to the sessions I was running about vivas and what their viva would be like.
‘I think for those who were in first or second year of their Ph.D.s their viva seemed very far away and for those nearing the end of their project the viva had become something too scary to think about.
‘So we decided to make sure that there would be something online that they could always access, perhaps even in the middle of the night when they were worrying about an upcoming viva.’
Tony enlisted the help of politics student Russell Foster, himself preparing for an upcoming viva.
Russell agreed to be filmed during a mock viva with Tony and Kate taking the roles of internal and external examiners.
The mock viva was kept very formal, with Russell entering the room in a suit to greet his examiners, just like in the real thing.
‘It was great of Russell to agree to do that on camera because it’s a pretty scary thing but he was happy to help other students.
‘The video worked really well and will hopefully give other students an idea of what to expect as their viva looms.
‘You can see Russell go through the whole process so hopefully it will be helpful to them to see the whole thing so clearly laid out.’
The video was posted on Youtube, with Russell’s permission and is used frequently as a resource for students in GPS approaching the end of their Ph.D.s.
Tony said: ‘We’re not sure of the impact yet. We did this in October 2013 and Ph.D.s are a slow process so we’ve not had that many students through yet to notice any particular trends but we expect that it can only have a positive impact.’
Thinking of doing a similar thing in your school? Contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk for more information or for technical support.
For more examples of good practice in teaching and learning from across Newcastle have a look at the Case Studies Database.