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The viva voce exam must take place within 3 months of submission of the thesis.

Methods of Teaching, Learning & Assessment

an oral examination in defence of a thesis

The phrase 'viva voce' literally means 'with living voice', or 'by word of mouth', and is a particular form of oral examination in which a doctoral level student is required to defend their thesis.

All students on our PhD or Professional Doctorate programmes are required to undergo a viva voce exam, which usually lasts between 1 and 2 hours, before they can be awarded a doctorate.

At Exeter a viva voce exam is attended by an Internal Examiner (selected from the University's academic staff) and an External Examiner (an expert from a different Higher Education Institution in the field on which the thesis has been written) and the student. Students and their supervisors are permitted to request the presence of a Chair at the viva to ensure the student receives a fair hearing.

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A doctoral level student is required to defend their thesis.

In some cases viva voce exams can be carried out using either written submission or video conferencing, where all parties are agreed that this is a viable course of action.

The viva voce exam must take place within 3 months of submission of the thesis, and can lead to any one of the following results:-

  • Pass (no corrections needed).
  • Minor amendments (a pass subject to correction of typographical errors).
  • Major amendments (more extensive revisions are required, though resubmission is not).
  • Resubmission (the thesis must be reviewed and revised according to the guidance of the Examiners, and resubmitted by an agreed deadline).
  • Award of a lesser degree such a MPhil (where the research is not felt to be at doctoral level).

(For further guidance on the examination of degrees by research please see the Teaching & Quality Assurance Manual , Section 8.)