News & Events

Workshop examines the oral testing of PhD candidates

Professor Jimi Adesina

The School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Graduate Studies hosted the 12th and last supervision capacity workshop on the doctoral viva voce for the Unisa community.  

The viva voce, usually referred to solely as ‘viva’, is an oral test during which PhD candidates defend their thesis in front of a panel of examiners. The phrase 'viva voce' literally translates to 'with living voice'. The oral defence will form part of the examination process for PhD candidates from the 2021 cohort onward as per the Procedures for Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. 
Professor Jimi Adesina, incumbent of the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Social Policy at Unisa, unpacked how other universities are conducting the oral defence and how to implement the best practices at Unisa.  

The purpose of this exercise is to assess the PhD candidate on the subject field of the thesis and to ensure that the doctoral thesis requirements of the National Qualifications Framework are met. In practice, the chair will explain the process, then the student will deliver her or his presentation, followed by questions ranging from general to specific. 

The proposed membership of the oral defence will comprise the following committee members, who will have specific roles and responsibilities:  

  • Chair of department or approved representative 

  • Higher degree committee in the department 

  • Non-examining chairperson  

  • School director 

  • Supervisor as an ex officio member and at least two examiners  

Adesina urged the colleges, schools and departments to start preparing PhD candidates by encouraging them to participate in proposal defence seminars and conferences to receive criticism of their work and acquire the skills to respond accordingly. 

By Tonny Matjila, Research Training & Development Officer, College of Graduate Studies 

** Teaser image: QS Study

Publish date: 2021/11/08