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What is the Three Minute Thesis?

Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition that challenges higher degree by research students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

  • You speak for a maximum of three minutes about your research
  • You address an intelligent but non-specialist audience on the ideas you are researching, the new knowledge you are hoping to find and the benefits and significance of that knowledge

It is not an exercise in trivialising or 'dumbing-down' research. The oration should engage the audience without reducing research to entertainment value alone.

  • The University offers attractive prize money for the 3MT winner ($2000), first runner up ($1000) and a people's choice award ($500).
  • The UC finalist progresses to compete at the Asia-Pacific international competition, if eligible.

Some of the additional benefits from entering the UC 3MT competition include:

  • Internal and external promotion of the value of your PhD or Masters Research;
  • Can be mapped onto PhD and Masters Research progress/skills development; and
  • The 3MT competition in conjunction with the training offered by the University, supports the development of your capacity to communicate ideas effectively to a range of non-specialist audiences and to the wider community.

Competitors commonly report the experience helped them 'crystallize' thoughts about their thesis and how they communicate their research.

Most of all, it's a lot of fun and generates public and media interest in your research and the University's research community.

  • A single PowerPoint slide is permitted, there must be no slide transitions or other animated elements
  • No additional electronic media, no sound and/or video files are permitted
  • No additional props, including. costumes, instruments - either musical or laboratory, or other items are permitted
  • Presentations are to be spoken word, so 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
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum. Competitors exceeding three minutes will be disqualified
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final

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 steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

The University of Canberra 3MT Competition is open to higher degree by research students. Anyone who is active in a PhD, Professional Doctorate or Masters Research program (including thesis under submission).

*The Asia-Pacific final is open only to PhD students who have passed their Confirmation Seminar. In the event that the UC winner is not eligible to progress, the runner-up up (or next eligible participant) will take the place at the Asia-Pacific competition.

Graduates and Honours students are not eligible to participate in the University level competition.

Finalists may be asked to engage with media prior to, during or following the University-level 3MT competition, for publicity purposes for their research, the University and 3MT.

The UC Winner will automatically be entered into the National/Trans-Tasman competition at The University of Queensland, if meeting the eligibility criteria.

ThreeMinuteThesis.org contains video and audio clips of successful 3MT presentations

The University of Canberra's Dr Peter Copeman has published a journal article and three-minute video on the art of pitching - via Emerald Group Publishing.

Peter Copeman - 'Three Minute Theatre' pitch in the style of 3 Minute Thesis from Peter Copeman on Vimeo.