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The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.

3MT® celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students around the world. The competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT® competition increases capacity to effectively explain research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one static PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props.

Participation will raise your research profile, develop your skills in public engagement and communication, and help you network with researchers from around the world.


Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their transfer 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. If your Viva Voce will take place before the date of the University final you are not eligible to enter the competition. Those who have not yet passed their transfer milestone, have already had their Viva Voce, or have already graduated, are not eligible. 


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. 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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from in front of the audience.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging criteria

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?
  • Were 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 presentation 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?


Each application will be reviewed initially by a shortlisting panel, and each heat and final will be judged by a multidisciplinary judging panel. The 2017–18 competition at BU will consist of two heats with ten different presenters in each heat. The top three presenters will move forward to the University final. The winner of the University final will have their presentation submitted to the Vitae 3MT® UK 2018 online semi-final competition and the top six competitors from the UK semi-final will progress to the UK final. Should you be selected for the University heats and progress to the final you will be expected to attend the 3MT® mock presentation approximately one week before the main competitions.

The winner of each heat or final is expected to progress to the next stage of the competition. If the winner is unable to attend the final in person, the runner-up will proceed to the next round of the competition in their place. The final will be video recorded.  


  • Monday 11 September 2017 – applications open
  • Midnight Sunday 20 May 2018 – applications close
  • Thursday 7 June 2018 – University competition
  • July 2018 – UK online semi-final
  • September 2018 – UK final at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference



  • up to £400 towards a conference of your choice (this can include travel, accommodation and conference registration),
  • entry into the Vitae National 3MT competition (if shortlisted and invited to the Vitae UK final, travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the Doctoral College)
  • plus a £100 Amazon voucher

Runner Up

  • £100 Amazon voucher

People’s Choice

  • £50 Amazon voucher

How to apply

In order to be considered for a place in the University heats you must submit a fully completed application form, which includes a 150-word abstract, to by midnight on Monday 20 May 2018. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.