Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

3MT Logo

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition challenges research higher degree students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Why take part?

The 3MT competition will be held on Wednesday 10 May 2017 and is a great opportunity to focus on the message of your research. It will allow you to consolidate your ideas and crystallise your research discoveries. Communicating your research to a non-specialist audience will challenge you to think in a fresh way about your ideas and develop your presentation skills.

Taking part in the competition will help you to:

  • improve your public speaking skills
  • build your confidence
  • share your passion for research

How the competition works

Entrants have three minutes to present their thesis to the panel of judges and the audience. The judges are academic staff from the University and members of the wider community. The panel of judges choose the winner and the audience choose an ‘audience’s choice’ winner.

  • Prizes


    • Judges’ Winner £200.
    • Judges’ Runner Up £100.
    • Audience’s Choice Winner £100.

  • Rules


    • 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 (eg sound and video files) are permitted.
    • No additional props (eg costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
    • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors who exceed three minutes are disqualified.
    • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg 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 either movement or speech.
    • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

  • Judging criteria

    All Three Minute Thesis competitions are judged by the following 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?
    • 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 the 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?

  • Meet the judges

How to get involved

If you would like to take part, you will need to submit a 300 word summary of your research to 3MT@essex.ac.uk. The deadline for submitting your summary is Monday 20 March 2017. The most informative and engaging summaries will be selected and those students will be invited to speak in the University finals. You will be informed of the outcome by Friday 31 March 2017. If you're shortlisted you will be offered additional training prior to the competition to help you prepare your presentation.

Eligibility

To be eligible to enter this competition, you need to:

  • be a doctoral student
  • have had your registration status confirmed as PhD
  • have not yet had your viva at the time of the local competition

Watch the 2016 winners

In May 2016, 14 students from across our University were selected to take part in the competition and shared their enthusiasm and commitment to their research areas.

  • Katie Groves, Department of Psychology

    Katie Groves from Department of Psychology was the judges’ winner. Katie has been researching body image disturbances and what happens in the brain when you see a body. Her presentation will be entered into the national online semi-final.


  • Hasan Tahir, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

    Hasan Tahir from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering was the judges’ runner up. Hasan researches the internet of things. His area is related to cryptography and how applications are designed for security.


  • Alexander Wenz, Institute for Social and Economic Research

    Alexander Wenz from the Institute for Social and Economic Research was the audiences’ choice winner for his talk on data quality of mobile surveys. Alex is looking at how completing a survey on a smartphone or tablet may affect responses.


  • What our winners thought about the competition

    We catch up with our three winning research students after they took part in the Three Minute Thesis Competition.


Further information

For more information about the competition taking place at the University, please contact 3MT@essex.ac.uk.

3MT® is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia. Its success has led to the establishment of local and national competitions in several countries.