Viva using video conferencing

Information and procedures for using video conferencing to carry out a Viva.

The University regards the physical attendance of all parties at the oral examination as most conducive to effective participation. However, some circumstances make it appropriate to consider conducting the oral examination by video link. Experience has shown that conducting oral examinations with some, or all, participants joining remotely does not reduce the quality or fairness of the examination.

The student and each of the examiners must signify in writing their agreement to conduct the examination in this way, either by signing the form or confirming approval by email. The College has responsibility for approving and overseeing this process. The remote viva form should be submitted to the College PGR team for approval to at least one week before the oral examination. 

Guidance for holding a postgraduate research oral (viva voce) examination remotely by video link. (pdf)


The preferred way of hosting a remote viva is via video-conferencing. The University is part of the JANET videoconferencing services (JVCS). Further details can be found here:  

Please note that the recommended video-conferencing technology is Microsoft Teams, which is supported by the University’s Information Services and has been fully checked for data protection compliance. Full guidance can be found at ISG - Teams: Organising, joining and hosting meetings

Whatever method is selected, College will require confirmation that risks e.g. loss of connection have been taken into consideration. All participants should be confident about using whatever method is selected.

If a student cannot attend viva

Circumstances where an oral examination may allowed to be held via video conference would be, for example; when a student has submitted their thesis for examination but their visa has expired and they must leave the country before their viva can take place.  However, students and supervisors are advised to consider visa implications when planning the thesis submission so that video conference can be avoided.  Another example, would be if the student has medical health reasons not to be able to attend a viva in Edinburgh.

Holding an oral examination via video conference can impose further stress on a student, so this should be avoided as much as possible.

If an examiner cannot attend viva

In even more exceptional circumstances a viva may be allowed to be held via video conference due to the inability of an examiner to travel to Edinburgh.  First, it should be considered whether an alternative examiner can be appointed and attend a viva and examine the thesis from start to finish.  If no alternative can be found, the request to use video conference must be approved by the College Postgraduate Studies Committee and it must be deemed that the student will not be disadvantaged by the video conference.

Requesting approval for video conference

If a supervisor believes the viva may be required to be held via video conference, they should contact the IGS as soon as possible.  The IGS will then contact the College Office to request approval for the video conference; the request will be discussed at the next College Board of Postgraduate Studies meeting.  The Board of Studies meetings are held once a month (usually on the last Friday of each month), so it is important to make the request to the College Office as soon as possible so that approval can be sought. 

Following the Board of Examiners meeting you will be informed of the outcome of the request.