I was completely unqualified to serve as an examiner at this mock PhD viva. What on earth did I know about Middle Eastern history?
I had been persuaded to participate on the grounds that I could ask all the standard questions:
- What was the overall aim of the research?
- What inspired you to explore this topic?
- What is your contribution to the field?
No one seemed to care that I would be completely unable to interpret the answers, nor continue the examination with follow-up questions.
At the viva itself everyone ignored me. They also paid no attention to the candidate. The whole meeting turned into a detailed debate about politics between the Director of Studies and second supervisor. This was no help to the student whatsoever.