UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Preparing for your Viva for Non-native speakers

Course information for Preparing for your Viva for Non-native speakers, an academic English course for graduate research students at UCL.

Course overview

These two workshops are suitable for PhD students whose first language is not English. They improve your understanding of what a Viva examination involves and how you can successfully prepare for this oral component of your PhD.

Session One

The first session will establish key elements of the Viva and focus on how to present your research in the first part of the Viva. You will critically review extracts of sample Vivas for content and language, and have the opportunity to informally present your own research to the group. This will be followed by discussion and peer and tutor feedback.

The session will finish by looking at the question and answer session of the Viva and you will be given homework where you will be asked to prepare and predict areas for questioning on a piece of your own writing.

Session Two

The second session will continue to focus on the question and answer section. You will analyse sample questions and discuss strategies for answering difficult questions. This will be supported by input on appropriate language.

There will be an opportunity for peer practice of this section using the questions prepared for homework, with tutor feedback on language and content. In summing up, you will reflect on your own performance and you will be given final advice in relation to disciplinary differences as appropriate.

Course content

In these sessions, you will:

  • Understand the general elements of a Viva examination;
  • Analyse these elements and highlight language used;
  • Practice oral summary of research;
  • Practice question and answer section;
  • Review a checklist for general Viva preparation.

If you are joining the online course, please note, it's an interactive course and to ensure you can participate fully, you must join each session from a quiet space where you can speak freely and join in all activities.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Anticipate what to expect in Viva examination;
  • Summarise your research and explain its contribution to knowledge in the relevant field;
  • Predict questions related to your own research, and outline potential answers for these;
  • Respond more confidently to challenging and unexpected questions.

Course dates and times

Only on 20 May and 3 June 202410am-12pmOnline
Only on 4 and 18 June 202410am-12pmOn campus

1 course = 2 sessions.

You must attend both sessions.

How to register

Registration for this course is managed by UCL Doctoral Skills using inkpath. If you have not previously registered with inkpath, you will need to follow the ‘Use Single Sign-On’ button.

Register for 20 May and 3 June (online)

Register for 4 and 18 June (on campus)

Course Feedback / Staff-Student Consultative Exercise

All students on Academic English courses have the opportunity to give general feedback on their course to senior representatives of CLIE.

Academic support

If you have any questions about your course, please feel free to ask your tutor.
Alternatively, contact the Course Coordinator, Mrs Daphne Thomas: daphne.thomas@ucl.ac.uk.

Rights and Responsibilities

CLIE seeks to ensure that all students have a positive experience in respect of courses taken here, and fully adheres to the broader rights and responsibilities policies of UCL.

As part of our responsibility, our courses will follow a logical structure consistent with delivering the content and skills practise that we advertise, but with the freedom for teachers to respond (e.g. via needs analysis at the beginning of the course) to further relevant areas of particular interest to each student group.

Problems and complaints

If you are unhappy about any aspect of your course we would advise you in the first instance to speak to a member of staff at CLIE to see if the problem can be easily resolved within the department. For further details of our formal complaints procedure, please email the Academic English Course Coordinator or administration team at pteap@ucl.ac.uk.