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 2021 3MT competition will be held virtually 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 record themselves presenting their thesis. The video is then uploaded to Vimeo and submitted to the 3MT Team. The video submissions are then reviewed by a panel of judges. The judges are academic staff from the University. The panel of judges choose the winner and the runner-up. The videos will be also be published on our Facebook page and the video with the most likes will be the ‘audience’s choice’ winner.


  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
  • Videos must meet the following criteria:
    • Filmed on the horizontal
    • Filmed with a plain background
    • Filmed from a static position
    • Filmed from one camera angle
    • Contain a 3MT title slide
    • Contain a 3MT PowerPoint slide (top right corner/right side/cut to)
  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
  • The 3 minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment or animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • 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).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Submissions via video format on a Vimeo link. Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.

Please note: competitors *will not* be judged on video/ recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.

Please note: After each competition round competitors have the option to either submit their current presentation or rerecord and submit a new presentation for entry into the next round.

How to enter

If you would like to take part, you will need to submit your video entry Vimeo link to by Monday 3 May 2021. Please see the 3MT virtual competitor guidance for tips and information on how to film and submit your entry.

If you can't enter the competition but are interested and would like to support our competitors, you are welcome to view the video submissions on our Facebook page. The competition offers a fascinating insight into the wonderful variety of research projects undertaken at Essex by our doctoral students. The video which received the largest number of likes will be the Audience Choice winner.


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?

2019 Judges’ Winner

In April 2019, eight 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 Paul Galbally, from the Department of Health and Social Care, with his presentation, ‘It’s a family affair. How is family defined and talked about in separated families: A discursive approach to parental conflict, family membership and family therapy practice implications.’

Further information

For more information about the competition, please email

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.

Get in touch
Telephone: 01206 872835 / 01206 873077