I was browsing some earlier posts on this blog yesterday, with that faint air of self-absorption normally reserved for reflecting on Important Life Events™, and I realised with barely concealed horror that I had not updated the blogosphere with the events that transpired after submitting my PhD in September. For shame!
In case you were wondering: yes, I did pass my viva, and yes, I did graduate last year. In December to be precise.
The viva’s a funny thing. Some people will tell you to make sure you know your thesis like the back of your hand, so that if the examiner asks what’s on page 216, paragraph four, you’ll be able to recite it. And, in fact, a friend of mine whose viva was only a week before mine did go in with that mentality. It proved successful, too. So I was sweating it a bit, when I realised, a few days before mine was due, that I didn’t even know which chapter page 216 was in, let alone which words were written on it, let alone have any idea of whether there was a coherent argument in there somewhere…
Of course, when it came to it, that didn’t really matter. And I did have a better grasp on my thesis than I’d thought. The viva was nowhere near as fearsome as I’d been led to believe. In fact, it was all rather relaxed. The first thing I was told when I went in was that my thesis was up to standard, and that I would basically be examined on my performance in the viva. Well, phew! What followed was an hour and a half of chat on stuff connected to what I’d written about. My supervisor, who had been walking past at various points to try to judge how it was going, told me afterwards that all he’d heard were gales of laughter.
Truth be told, finishing a PhD is all a bit anticlimactic. There’s the viva, which is a bit of an event, then there’s the corrections (though I only had some very minor ones as it turned out), then the final hard-bound submission, then the graduation. And that’s it. But because there are so many end points, you don’t really know when it’s over. It just sort of peters out… And four years of hard work sits on the shelf in a wine coloured hardback with gold lettering on the cover.