Examinations and written assessments

Exams loom large in the mind of any student, even when they have a lot of experience in taking them.

At the Master's level, you will be examined on a range of complex material that you will have learned from lecturers and your own independent study. There will be a greater emphasis on 'outside' reading and on analysis and synthesis, which means that revision techniques that worked for you in the past may need to be adapted.

As well as traditional written exams, you are likely to be graded on a range of assignments such as reports and presentations which will likely involve both solo and group work.

For advice on coping with exam stress and revision, see the Student Support Zone and the College Health Centre/Counselling Service.

Vivas (oral examination)

A viva (from the latin viva voce) may be part of the assessment for the final report or dissertation that all students will have to undertake. In most cases you have to attend an oral examination, normally conducted by two examiners. They will want to see if you can describe what you have done and justify your main conclusions. They will probably test your understanding by asking questions about your work.

  • Vivas can take different forms and be used for different purposes, if they are used in your course you need to check local guidance
  • Make sure you understand the viva's purpose and how it works in advance, so that you are not caught unprepared
  • If you are on the borderline between two grades, or competing for a prize, the viva may be used to help determine your final position