Introduction The PhD defence or viva voce is the doctoral student’s final rite of passage prior to the award of the doctoral degree. It usually takes the form of a mandatory final oral examination. As such, it has been the object of research in educational assessment and quality assurance (e.g. Jackson & Tinkler, 2001; Morley, Leonard & David, 2002), with also some attention to how students can best be prepared (e.g. Murray, 2009; Watts, 2012). Less research has focussed on the defence/viva as a genre; as a result, most descriptions of this genre have only been available in university policy documents and in some shorter descriptions and participant accounts. However, there are additionally a small number of transcripts extant, some accompanied by video or sound files (details below).