College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Examination and Viva

Information on the examination and viva process.

Along with the presentation of your written work, the viva forms the grounds for the award of your doctoral or MPhil research degree.



The normal expectation was that the oral examination will be held on campus in Edinburgh.

The University is still in a position of some remote working, and it is expected that vivas may still be conducted remotely, or via a hybrid meeting in which some participants join remotely.  If vivas go ahead remotely either fully or in part, all parties will be asked by the Graduate School to confirm in an email that they are happy to proceed in this way.

Students retain the option to delay or postpone the viva, but must consider all the implications for this delay as a re-scheduled viva may not be held for some months and will possibly delay Graduation.

Internal Examiners can contact the PGR Student Office or their School Administrator for further guidance on the process for conducting the viva remotely, including technical guidance, but these can be held using platforms such as Collaborate, Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business to suit the needs of all participants. In most remote vivas it is also recommended that a Non-Examining Chair is appointed to oversee the proceedings. 

Candidates should confirm that they consent to the viva being held in this way and they understand that breaks in the stream may have a disruptive impact on proceedings. 

Candidates should not feel under any pressure to agree to be examined in this way but if agreement is given, it should be noted they will not normally be permitted to appeal against an adverse result on grounds connected with their ability to operate the system. 

Email consent is accepted - or completion of the attached forms

IAD have also provided some additional guidance for remote vivas

Who arranges your viva?

It is the responsibility of your Internal Examiner in consultation with the Graduate School to arrange your viva. They will contact everyone who is involved in advance to provide information on the date, time, location and participants of the oral exam.

When is your viva likely to be?

This depends on when you submit your NITS and thesis, how long the examiner appointment process takes, how long the examination stage takes, and when you and your examiners are available. The viva is typically expected to take place within three months of your thesis submission.

Who should you inform if you require any adjustments?

The University has an Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy, which outlines specific adjustments to be mainstreamed in all University teaching. If you wish to request any adjustments, or if you wish to confirm that adjustments have been put in place, you can do so by getting in touch with your School Postgraduate Office.

Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy (370.48 KB PDF)

Who will be present at your viva?

As well as yourself and your examiners, your viva committee may also include a non‐examining chair. Your supervisor may also attend the viva, but will not participate, and must leave with you at the end of the exam.

Can you leave the UK and return for your viva?

If you are staying overseas, you must be prepared to return to the UK for your viva, unless alternative arrangements have been made. If you are a Tier-4 student and have any questions about leaving and returning to the UK for your viva, please contact the Student Immigration Service .

Can your viva be held via video link? - see updated guidance above

In some circumstances your viva may take place via video conference, where one of your examiners is present via video link. You and your examiners must all confirm that you are happy to take part in a video conference viva, and this must be approved by the College Exams Committee.

Additional information on Remote VIva

UKCGE - Conducting Online Vivas


Do you need to take anything to your viva with you?

You may be asked to refer to your thesis during the examination therefore it would be useful to have a copy of this with you - but please note you will not be permitted to refer to any other document, and if the thesis is available electronically this must be the only document open. Your examiners will specify if there is anything else you need to bring with you to your viva.

Devices required as part of a schedule of adjustment will be permitted. Please ensure your Examination Team are aware of any additional requirements you may need due to a schedule of adjustments. If you wish to bring anything with you please contact your School Postgraduate Office prior to your examination.