I was wondering if anyone can help me decide if I should ask my supervisor to be present at my Viva.

  • 2
    Why don't you ask your supervisor if he/she thinks there are benefits to sitting in?
    – ff524
    May 11, 2016 at 15:17
  • In cases where the external examiner is less familiar with the UK system, your university's regulations may allow your department to nominate an "independent chair" for the viva; this person would not actively examine you, but would be there to oversee the process. Whether this is better, worse, or the same as having your supervisor there is something for you and your supervisor to decide
    – Yemon Choi
    May 11, 2016 at 16:28
  • Thanks for the comments, my supervisor just told me to decide. He isn't the advice giving type :) May 11, 2016 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


I would suggest that you should only bring your supervisor if you have a specific, positive reason to do so. If you are in two minds about it, it sounds like the answer is "no". But as your supervisor says, it is entirely your decision.

Although it is permitted to bring your supervisor into the viva as an observer, most PhD candidates do not do this. The main exception is if it would be reassuring for you to have them there. There might also be an argument for having them as a kind of "quality control", but really this is the job of the internal examiner, so unless for some reason you don't trust your internal (perhaps if they were very inexperienced), that's not necessary.

For most people, having your supervisor there would be fairly harmless, but provide no real benefit. It could be a little distracting having them in the room (given they are not allowed to say anything!) and might just mean that you start second-guessing yourself, looking to your supervisor for reassurance instead of being self-reliant. Given that it's uncommon, it's possible that it could make you look less confident in the eyes of your examiners.

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