Oral examinations

Familiar as the viva-voce component of PhD examination, but can be used in many different ways and to test students individually or in groups. Particularly in the case of group presentations, oral assignments are often used as a minor component in conjunction with more formal, individuated exam types as above.

Pros: Tests both knowledge and non-written practical skills (voice, group working, argumentation, use of visual material, etc). Flexible, and requires students to present material in a different format to the formal essay.

Cons: Group work can reveal the 'free-rider' problem. Staff can find them hard to assess – difficult to provide grade criteria to cover the range of possibilities and even then can feel more subjective than other forms of assessment. May need to be recorded and stored.

Workload guide

Preparation time Low Student workload Medium Marking time High


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

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