How To Prepare For Your Viva

I’ve finally finished! After years of reading papers, designing algorithms, hacking at code, and writing papers, my PhD is complete.

One of the most daunting thoughts I had as a PhD student was the idea of the viva: two experts sit in a room and pick apart the fine details of your work. They ask deep and technical questions, not limited merely to your thesis content, for a few hours (I’ve heard horror stories of 8 hours!) before sending you out of the room to discuss your fate. Fifteen minutes of palpitations later you get your result and (whatever the outcome) head to the pub, either to celebrate or drown your sorrows as appropriate.

In reality, because I was well prepared, my viva was actually just a chat with some knowledgeable people who were very interested in my work. There were a few curveball questions, nothing too serious, and the whole thing was done in an hour.

Here are some of my top tips for viva preparation.

thesis_pic.png The finished product!

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Software Carpentry – The Highlights

The Software Sustainability Institute, Mathworks, and the Software Carpentry group recently collaborated to run a course at Manchester University. The event was designed to teach best practices in software engineering to young researchers and mainly focused on three points:

  • the command line and shell scripting (mainly in Bash).
  • version control, and in particular Git.
  • data manipulation, unit testing, and performance considerations in MATLAB.

In this post I’ll highlight what I took away from the course and give links to some useful information.

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