Theses, vivas and research students

I’ll be examining another doctoral thesis soon, which today I’ve started reading. I won’t say anything about it specifically, but the occasion does give me a starting point for this post.

My own PhD thesis ran to about 450 pages, references and appendices included. It was years in the making, not least as I was a part-time student with plenty of other things to keep me busy. My supervisors, who I’ve mentioned on this blog before, were Davina Allen and Philip Burnard. As an internal candidate it was necessary for me to have two external examiners, and these were Ian Norman from King’s College London and Lesley Griffiths from Swansea University. Here’s the summary from my study:

My viva went well, proceeding in a spirit of collegial inquiry. This is how it ideally should be, and even where a thesis is judged to have major weaknesses I firmly believe that the examination should be conducted fairly and with courtesy. Cardiff University vivas are independently chaired, which I think helps the process, though I know this is not standard practice everywhere.

As it happens the Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies has significantly grown its postgraduate research in recent years, and we now have a healthy number of UK and international PhD and Professional Doctorate students. Together they run a lively multi-author blog under the title PhDays. Check it out.

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