Chapter 12 Managing Academic Conduct and Practice academic year 2022/23Appendix L – Viva Voce Process 


1 General Principles 

1.1  The Viva Voce Process exists within the marking process in order to address potential academic conduct concerns where evidence of an offence is not always obtainable, and to provide markers with a means by which they can satisfy themselves that the student can demonstrate knowledge of the work and topic in question to be assured of the legitimacy of the work. To avoid adding undue delay to the marking process, the viva should be held as soon as possible.  Where there is evidence of an academic conduct offence the matter can be referred to the Academic Conduct Procedures. 

1.2  The process provides:

a) Assurance to students that we have the means to explore perceived academic conduct offences within submissions where there is insufficient evidence to immediately refer the submission into the Academic Conduct Procedure to ensure the integrity of assessments.
b) A deterrent to students who may consider engaging in academic conduct offences.
c) An additional tool for staff marking assignment submissions to explore perceived academic conduct offences within submissions where there is insufficient evidence to immediately refer the submission into the Academic Conduct Procedures.


2.1 The viva process should only occur if two or more members of the marking team share two or more of the following concerns: 

a) The content of the work falls consistently outside of the topics taught on the module and there is no reasonable explanation for the student to have responded to the question in that way

b) The methods used in the submission are substantially different from those taught on the module.

c) The anticipated mark for the assignment falls outside that predicated for anyone within the cohort and/or is excessively high for a student working at that stage of study or language level. 

d) The sources used are not on the reading list for the module and are a significantly unusual resource for the student to have obtained and/or cited.

e) The language and/or syntax used in the assessment are incoherent.

f) The language and/or syntax are at a level of sophistication beyond that anticipated of a student working at this stage of study or language level. 

g) The language and syntax used in certain sections of the assessment response are demonstrably different from that in other sections of their assignments or their previous assessed work. 

h) Sources referenced do not match the content of the assessment. 

i) Sources referenced do not appear to be real.

j) There is hard evidence in the submission of third-party involvement (such as track change comments in the submission).

k) The student has responded to an entirely different title without explanation.

l) The student has failed to complete the honour pledge for the assignment in question.

m) The submission contains methods and/or data that fall under the university's research ethics approval policy.  The student has failed to obtain research ethics approval for this work.

n) The submission timeframe is too short in which to have written the submission. 

3 Viva Voce 

3.1 Through the course of the viva conversation a student will be asked to demonstrate their knowledge of the work and topic in question. If they demonstrate sufficient understanding of the information to assure the marking team of the legitimacy of their work, then the piece of work will be returned to the standard marking process with no further action taken. 

3.2 If through the viva a student fails to reassure the marking team of the veracity/authenticity of their work, then the team may decide to refer the case to the departmental Academic Misconduct Officer (AMO) for investigation. 

3.3 A student cannot prevent this from happening by failing to appear at their viva. 

3.4 The marking team/viva committee will produce a summary report of the viva to act as evidence for the Academic Conduct investigation. This report will also accompany the moderation material for consideration by External Examiners at the Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC). 

3.5 The viva forms part of the marking process, and as such, it is possible for a student to submit a formal appeal in relation to any viva held with them following the relevant APAC if they felt they had grounds to do so. If, however, a viva is held and a case is subsequently referred to the Academic Conduct process, the student must await the outcome of the Academic Conduct investigation and follow the appeals process within Chapter 12 Academic Conduct and Practice of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook.  

4 Operational Standards

4.1 The following procedures are suggested as minimum operational standards for the holding of viva voce examinations: 

a) A viva should be held if requested by two or more members of the marking team. 

b) The criteria for the selection of students for vivas, as outlined above, must be consistently applied. 

c) Students must be given five working days’ notice of a viva so as to enable them to attend. 

d) The focus of attention in the viva discussion will be the areas of study covered within the relevant examination or assessment. 

e) In the invitation to the viva, the student must be notified of the assignment about which concerns have been raised; which of the concerns listed in section 2 above have been raised about their assignment, who will be conducting the viva and their reason for their attendance and the date and time of their viva.  

f) The viva should not usually extend beyond 30 minutes in duration. 

g) Vivas should normally follow a question and answer format. The questions can address any aspect of the submission, and there is no minimum or maximum number of questions that might be asked. The nature and quantity of questions should be sufficient to enable those undertaking the assessment to determine whether the submission is the work of the candidate. 

h) The viva should be conducted in English, but if relevant (i.e. for certain language modules) some questions may be posed in the language being assessed by the assignment in question so as to appropriately ascertain the student's language abilities.

i) The student should not be asked to undertake a new assignment or test of their knowledge.

j) If there are concerns as to whether or not the submission is the work of the candidate, the viva-panel should refer the case to academic conduct process as outlined within the Chapter 12 Academic Conduct and Practice within the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. 

k) A summary of the discussion should be kept and the recommendation from the viva must be submitted to the APAC along with any other moderation material. 

5 Process

5.1 Identification 

a) Any member of the marking or moderation team can raise concerns, and should discuss this with the other markers. 
b) Where two or more markers are in agreement that they have concerns (applying the above criteria) then a viva should be arranged. 
c) This should be reported to the Hub, so that they can identify the student and make a note that a viva will be taking place. A provisional mark should be returned at this stage based on the quality of the work submitted.

5.2 Notification 

a) Students should be notified that the marking team would like to hold a viva. Template text for this notification is provided in Appendix A – Template Invitation to Viva‌‌ This email should go out from the relevant Professional Services Staff designated within the College Operations/Education Support team. 
b) Viva should take place as soon as possible but the student must have at least five working days’ notice. 

5.3 Meeting 

a) The meeting should be attended by two academic staff – a member of the marking team and a senior academic (e.g.Head of Department, Chair of APAC or Director of Education).
b) The meeting can be conducted in-person or virtually, as appropriate.  
c) The meeting should not exceed 30 minutes. 
d) Questions should test students’ knowledge and understanding of the topic and the work produced. 
e) The viva should follow a question and answer format and should pertain to the criteria identified (from 2.1 a-n above).
f) No recording will be made of the meeting, however (as per 3.4 above) a summary report of the meeting must be produced and agreed by both academic members of staff present.   

 5.4 Outcome 

a) Where academics have no further concerns, this should be reported to the Hub so that the mark can be included in APAC. The mark should not be amended, as this would no longer be anonymous. The student should be contacted to thank them for their time, and to let them know that no further action will be taken. A copy of the summary report of the meeting should be shared with the student.
b) Where academics still have concerns, this should be referred to the discipline’s Academic Conduct Officer who will then follow the academic misconduct procedures as outlined in Chapter 12 Academic Conduct and Practice. The student should be notified that they are being investigated at this point. The record of the meeting will be shared with the student as part of the Academic Conduct Investigation.


Last reviewed September 2023
Last updated February 2024

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