Fundamentals of PhD Examination

Fundamentals of PhD Examination is an online resource developed by the Institute for Academic Development in consultation with the Doctoral College and relevant staff in Colleges and Support Services.

Who is the resource for?

This resource aims to support new examiners develop their understanding of the examination process at the University of Edinburgh, and to encourage experienced examiners to reflect on and develop their practice.

About the resource

The resource was developed by Robin Henderson of My Consultants in coordination with the Doctoral College and IAD. It is mainly video-based and involves experienced University of Edinburgh examiners who share their experiences, tips and advice.


The content (with approximate timings to view and complete each section):

  1. Welcome and Introduction (10 mins)
  2. The role of the Viva and Examiner (10 minutes)
  3. Preparing for the Viva (15 minutes)
  4. Conducting the Viva (15 minutes)
  5. Outcomes and Feedback (10 minutes)
  6. The Edinburgh Examination Process (20 minutes)
  7. Summary and Post-Resource Reflection (includes a downloadable summary of the whole process and good practice) (15 minutes)

The resource is designed to be flexible, so that participants can focus on one particular element or work through the whole resource. To complete the whole resource (watching all the videos) it would take around 2 hours. More experienced examiners who just need an overview of the Edinburgh process, should focus on section 6. The Edinburgh Examination Process.

How do I access the course? 

Please complete this registration form to request access to the course.  You will receive access to this course within 48 hours of completing this form and will receive an email to confirm your enrolment.

Who do I contact if I have comments or problems accessing the course?

If you have problems accessing the course please email  

We welcome comments on the course so please contact us if you have any feedback.  There is also a feedback form within the course.

Who do I contact if I have other questions about my role as a PhD examiner?

Your first point of contact should be the relevant postgraduate staff in your School or Centre.  This may be the PG administrative staff or the PG(R) Director or Head of the Graduate School. Your College office should also be able to help.

Downloadable resources

These resources are included in the online resource, but can also be downloaded directly.

  1. Viva Examination: reflective activity. This is designed to help you reflect on your experiences of being examined and of being an examiner.
  1. Viva Examination: summary of good practice. This is an Aide Memoire for examiners.