Orals and Interviews

Sample Cases from Dublin Institute of Technology

See some samples cases for this assessment method in the table below or browse the full set of cases in the assessment toolkit.

Assessment MethodLecturerAssociated Programme(s)NFQ LevelYear
Interview Jan Pettersson BA Early Childhood Education Level 8 Years 1-3
Oral Carmel O’Reilly Hospitality Management and Tourism Programmes
Language Programmes
Level 7, 8 All Years
Debate Kevin Gaughan MSc Energy Management (Energy Supply) Level 9  

[Return to the Assessment Toolkit]


Oral examinations are generally classified as follows:

  1. Assessment of language skill and competence
  2. Viva voce examination
  3. Debriefing/interview in tandem with a practical exmaination

When to Use

Oral examinations are normally carried out with individual students as they require individual responses. They form an integral part of langaue skills assessment. Viva voce exams/assessments are normally associated with dissertation/research projects but can also be used for purposes of clarification relating to other forms of examination. In some disciplines, viva voce exams are used to enhance grades where a student’s result is borderline between differing grades (e.g. between a 2:2 and 2:1). Such exams/assessments are also useful for clarification purposes where a doubt exists concerning the authenticity of a student’s work.

Oral examinations which accompany practical examinations allow the student an opporunity to respond to issues which arise during the practical examination for purposes of clarification, enhancement/expansion of ideas, demonstration, examination of pedagogical principles, etc.

When NOT to Use

As a form of assessment, it is not particularly useful in group scenarios because it may not capture all responses and usually, there will be a variety of responses. However, effective preparation for oral examinations can be carried out with small groups.


  • Students are given an opportunity to expand on issues raised in a practical examination. 
  • Highly effective means of measuring language competence and skill
  • Plagiarism is not possible
  • Often an attractive alternative for students whose written skills in examination/assessment are not particularly strong
  • Works particularly well in practice situations


  • Can be stressful for the student
  • Time consuming and expensive.
  • May present difficulty for shy or inarticulate students.
  • May present difficulyt for students whose first language is not the langague in which the oral is conducted


  • Clear guidelines need to be given to students, including paramenters of topics/issues which can or cannot be discussed
  • Create a comfortable, non-intimidating environment for the oral examination.
  • Allow sufficient time for student to respond and prompt if necessary
  • Where possible, provide a ‘rehearsal’ oral examination.


It may be advisable to record such examinations in case of appeal.

Additional Information

Case Studies

External Resources

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