Prepping for Battle

If doing a PhD was like playing a video game, then the viva you have to face at the end is a lot like the final boss battle. Yes, I know this seems like a flippant comparison to draw, but hear me out here…

A few years ago, I was a big fan of Final Fantasy VII (and if I’m honest, I still am). Big sprawling RPGs like the Final Fantasy games were always fun to play because of the amount of freedom you’re given in the gameplay. While there was always a consistent narrative and a set of well defined objectives, you can take time out from the main storyline and chase side quests for a while, or spend extra time preparing and finding exciting things before heading for the finish.

There were always two ways of playing those games. You could play for speed and tear through the game as fast as you could, or you could be thorough and pick up every last thing you could find along the way, building yourself up and preparing as much as you could before the end. The difference was always remarkable.

Speeding through to the finish always made that final battle so much more difficult, noticeably because of all the extras which you never stopped to pick up along the way. On the other hand, if you were more thorough, while it may have taken you longer to get there, by the time you faced the final boss, you were so powerful that it would barely even be a challenge anymore.

I guess my point is that I’m rather hoping I’ve taken enough time to prepare myself as best I can. I think I have. I guess time will tell. Anyway, in the interests of proper preparation, I’ve found a few rather helpful pages full of viva-related advice which I thought I’d share here. I’ve certainly found these useful. Perhaps if you’re planning on acquiring a PhD yourself, then you might find them useful too…

Some friends have advised me that as long as you know your work and you’re comfortable discussing it, there shouldn’t really be too much to worry about – indeed, there may not be a lot which can be done to prepare. This may be so. But I’m still going to do whatever it takes at this stage.


My posts have had a distinctly video gamey theme about them recently, haven’t they? Don’t worry. It isn’t permanent. Actually, I’m looking forward to doing some research blogging when I can once again spare the time. It’s been a while…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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2 Responses to Prepping for Battle

  1. Jill says:

    Oh! I’m so terribly flattered that you listed my viva tips here, and that you found them useful. :) Have you had ‘The Event’ yet!? How did it go!? –Dr Jill (

    • invaderxan says:

      Your tips were extremely helpful, so thank you very much! Yes, the viva is long gone and it all went remarkably well. In fact, my graduation ceremony is next week. :)

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