Exam Time

A busy day today, marking undergraduate examinations most of the time, but also keeping an eye on the viva voce examination for a PhD student too. In the end both tasks went off satisfactorily. I finished my batch of marking third-year examinations scripts and my PhD student Rockhee Sung also passed her PhD. The completion of the former task wasn’t so much of a cause for celebration, because I still have a second paper to do, but Rockhee’s successful PhD defence definitely was. The viva was probably no more than the formality I expected it to be, but it was great to see the look on her face when she emerged from the room. In anticipation of a successful outcome I’d bought a few bottles of champagne which I had secreted in the departmental fridge. A few minutes after the viva had finished, I sprang into action,  corks were popped, and we were all congratulating Rockhee on her success. We then adjourned to a local bar and thence to dinner in a nice restaurant.

Rockhee started her PhD with me when I was at Nottingham. When I decided to move in 2007, she moved with me and transferred her registration to Cardiff. Moving wasn’t as easy as I had anticipated  owing to the Credit Crunch. It took me the best part of a year to fully relocate, causing considerable disruption to my research (and Rockhee’s PhD). However she managed to complete her thesis some time ago and managed to get a  postdoctoral position in the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa. She flew back yesterday for her viva, just escaping the dreaded Icelandic Volcano Ash, and passed (with flying colours) today. Well done Rockhee!

Although the outcome of the examination was hardly unexpected, I don’t mind saying that I was absolutely delighted, as I am every time one of my PhD students passes this final hurdle. It’s one of the things that makes this job so very special. That’s a round dozen now, and I’m so very proud of all of them. Especially considering what a crap supervisor they all had.

That’s not to say that I won’t feel proud when this year’s undergraduates finally qualify for their degrees,  but postgraduates have a much closer personal connection than undergraduates do to their tutors and lecturers, and that  inevitably makes their success that bit more special…

4 Responses to “Exam Time”

  1. Unfortunately, vivas are rare here – with examinations being done with a report on a posted thesis – takes ages (one of my students has been waiting 6 months for his reports). I would prefer the viva approach.

  2. telescoper Says:

    I think the viva examination is a fine tradition. It’s really a sort of rite of passage. I doubt if anyone really enjoys it while it’s going on, but afterwards I think we all feel that by going through one we had to earn our doctorate…

  3. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Our esteemed head of dept Walter Gear was my external, back in the days when he was building SCUBA at the ROE.

    In my opinion it is a supervisor’s fault if a student fails their viva. It is surely the supervisor’s job to ensure the student is ready and can demonstrate that the Thesis is their own work.

    Of course some people just make up the ownership of a PhD. Much simpler than to actually do the work and pass the viva.

  4. rockhee Says:

    Thanks Peter,
    You know how much I appreciate your help all the time of study. Specially for your patience!!

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