Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

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.

The 3MT competition will be held on Wednesday 24 April 2019 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. The panel of judges choose the winner and the audience choose an ‘audience’s choice’ winner.


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


  • 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 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 either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

How to enter

If you would like to take part, submit a 300 word summary of your research to: 3MT@essex.ac.uk by Monday 4 March 2019.

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 15 March 2019. If you're shortlisted you will be offered additional training prior to the competition to help you prepare your presentation.


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

Judging criteria

Comprehension and content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • 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?

Meet the judges

2018 Judges’ Winner

In May 2018, 10 students from across our University were selected to take part in the competition and shared their enthusiasm and commitment to their research areas.

The winner of the competition was Melanie Pearson, from the Department of Sociology, who has been researching the impact on families bereaved by road traffic collisions of the Criminal Justice System inquest and the coroner’s powerlessness to explicitly apportion blame.

Further information

For more information about the competition, 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.

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