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  • Writer's pictureKatie Paterson


The dust has almost settled, and I have a shiny new badge saying Dr Katie Paterson.

Viva voce is the final stage of the PhD, an oral examination also called the thesis defence. In theory this should have been in my wheelhouse, as I’m a performer and usually a very confident conference speaker. My examiners were absolutely delightful and started the viva with a very reassuring set of commendations that clearly indicated I had passed. Unfortunately, my brain was so deep in panic mode that I didn’t really process that and instead spent an hour and half working myself into an absolute state, convinced I had failed. As it turns out I passed with minor corrections, by far the most common outcome, and just have to tidy up a few loose ends. I was in such a state that the chair of the panel had to explain it three times before I even processed that the news was good!

The viva was an emotionally complicated experience. It’s both the high stakes culmination of three years work and a bit of an anti-climax. The post-show blues have hit hard, as I try to recalibrate what to do with the part of brain that’s been completely occupied with PhD since 2020. On the bright side I have started a permanent job at Mountview that I’m absolutely loving, have some publications coming out, and have planned so much of my wedding I’m now inventing tasks. There’s still some calibrating to do, but I’m feeling incredibly grateful for the metaphorical village that’s got me this far. Onwards and (hopefully) upwards!

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