Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®)

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance. 3MT® is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research, but challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience.

Winners were decided at the Grand Final on Thursday, 8 September 2016, which you can relive here. Photos and videos of our winners and finalists are available below.

Videos of the 2016 University of Melbourne 3MT® winners and finalists

Winner: Nathaniel Swain

Runner Up: Anne Aulsebrook

People's Choice: Ting Ting Lee

Finalists: Sarah Webber, Mitchell D. Nothling, Laura Conway, Kirstie Mangas, Laren Sosdian, Jarmon Lees and Ella Kelly

Who can participate?

Active PhD candidates of the University of Melbourne who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT® competitions at all levels, including the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.

How to take part

Participants first compete in heats, where three will be selected to progress through to the semi finals. The top 10 competitors from the semi finals will go on to compete in the University of Melbourne grand final. The winner of this will then represent the University in the Asia-Pacific competition. Registration for 2017 heats will open in the first half of the same year.

How it works

Each participant will present using a single, static PowerPoint slide (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description) from the beginning of the oration to the end. Each presentation is limited to three minutes maximum and  those who exceed this limit will be disqualified.

Watch videos of our 2016 winner and finalists above for further reference.

Benefits for participants

  • Learn to communicate your research well.
  • Build confidence and improve your public speaking skills.
  • Demystify your research in the eyes of the University community and the general public.
  • Network and make friends with other graduate researchers.
  • Begin building your public profile.
  • Communicate your research through print, radio and video media.
  • It’s a lot of fun and generates interest in what you're doing.

The 3MT® also supports the University's Doctoral Attribute: "the capacity to disseminate the results of research and scholarship by oral and written communication to a variety of audiences", and meets the following criteria:

  • Internal and external promotion of the value of PhD research
  • Promotes research culture to all levels of university
  • Can be mapped onto PhD progress/skills development.

Competition rules

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
    The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


The University of Melbourne grand final winner will receive $4,000 and free travel and accommodation to represent the University in the Asia-Pacific competition and will also be awarded the perpetual McPhee Cup. Runner up will receive $1,000 cash prize. There will also be a People's Choice Award.

Judging criteria

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the two judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension and content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement and communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

Download our guide on how to make the most of your Three Minute Thesis for further reference.

Confidentiality and intellectual property guidelines

  • The 3MT® presentation must represent the original research of the competitor.
  • The authors of the 3MT® presentation will retain all rights regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below.
  • Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.
  • All public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include the Internet.
  • Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. This means, if your research includes commercial-in-confidence or culturally sensitive material you should think very carefully about how you can present this information. We advise that you discuss your competition entry with the party/ies before entering the 3MT® competition.
  • Melbourne CSHE, University of Melbourne and the Three Minute Thesis Competition may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations or material prepared for use in presentation at the 3MT® competition.
  • The University may use the materials in any book or other printed materials and any videotape or other medium that it may produce, provided that any profits earned from the sale of such items is used by the University solely to defray the costs of future Competitions.

Competition schedule and registration

2017 competition commences in June of the same year. Information will be made available closer to this date.


Dina Uzhegova
T: +61 3 8344 3087