Writing up your PhD and Preparing for the Viva

Writing up and submitting your thesis on time should be your priority in your final year, but you should also make time to prepare for your next steps.

Typical milestones

These are the sorts of actions you will need to consider taking during the end phase of your PhD.

Completing your research:

  • draw up a plan to cut writing up into manageable pieces
  • chapter by chapter; complete a first draft
  • submit thesis and practice for the viva
  • viva, corrections and graduation....celebrate!

Communicate your findings:

  • present research findings at conferences / seminars.

Plan your career:

  • Visit the careers service and work on updating your CV.
  • Apply for jobs or funding, or think about entrepreneurial activities, like starting your own business or ‘spinning out’ your research.

Remember to add your own additional actions that relate to your own personal circumstances and project.

Support from your supervisor and School

As you near completion, you will be the expert in your field, your relationship with your supervisor has probably changed dramatically since day one. Now your meetings should focus on critically discussing your work. Let them advise you on the process of submission and learn from their experience.

It is vital at this stage that you revisit the PhD regulations, particularly those on submitting your thesis. Remember that the guidance may have been updated since you first started your PhD.

Codes and regulations for research students

Writing up qualitative research

This independent self study pack is aimed at Postgraduate Researchers working on a qualitative thesis who have completed their data collection and analysis and are at the stage of writing up.

Note: this self-study pack was written in 2013 so is not an expecially up-to-date resource, but it may still contain helpful general information.

The units available for download are:

Writing up: course introduction (PDF - 3 pages)

Unit 1: structure and introduction (PDF - 13 pages)

Unit 2: literature review (PDF - 15 pages)

Unit 3: methodology (PDF - 9 pages)

Unit 4: data chapters (PDF - 17 pages)

Unit 5: the final chapter (PDF - 19 pages)

Unit 6: the first few pages (PDF - 9 pages)

Independent study notes (PDF - 11 pages)

Preparing for the Viva

A Guide for Viva Preparation (PDF)

Preparing for an Online Viva (PDF)

It may be particularly important now that you get advice and support on your next career steps. Read out career management section for some timely advice, and an overview of support you can access from the University’s careers service.

Career management advice for PhD students

Training courses

To help you in the final stages of your research programme, we recommend attending some of the following IAD courses:

  • 7 Reasons you'll Pass your Viva
  • Thesis Workshops - School Specific
  • Viva Survivor

Doing a skills audit to help plan your development

Revisit your skills audit and update it, you will have learnt a lot in during your PhD, and the chances are your development needs have now changed. Your focus for future development should now be on the skills you need to move forward into your career. Think about these carefully and if you want to, seek advice from the Careers Service.

Get help from the University Careers Service

If you haven’t done a skills audit before, doing an audit (i.e. an assessment) of your skills is useful; if you can identify what skills are important to your research success, and whether you are strong or weak in these areas. You can then focus your precious time on developing the areas that will help you most.

Other sources of support

Vitae: The Vitae resources on writing up, submitting and defending your thesis are particularly helpful at this stage.

Vitae guidance on completing your doctorate