Three minute thesis competition

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

What is it?3MT logo

The 3MT is an exercise in developing academic and research communication skills. Higher degrees by research students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.

  • Initial rounds of the competition are organised by Schools and Faculties. The top two contestants from each Faculty, plus one from IFM and one wildcard, will go into the University final.
  • The Deakin winner will receive $2000, with $1000 going to the runner-up and $500 going to the People's Choice awarded by the audience.
  • The winner will be sponsored to travel to represent Deakin in the Trans-Tasman competition, in which there are even more substantial prizes ($5000 for the winner).

Why do it?

We are sure many of you have learned by now, it is always handy to be prepared when faced with the inevitable "so what is your thesis about?" questions from curious family and friends (who usually want the three minute version, not the extended one). More particularly, you might get asked the same question in a future job interview!

The 3MT is an invaluable opportunity to practise your communication skills in a supportive environment and it gives you the chance to distil the essence of your research into a succinct and engaging sound bite.

And of course, there will be some extremely generous prizes and travel opportunities on offer as mentioned above.

Who is eligible to enter?

Anyone who is actively enrolled in a PhD, DPsych or research Masters program at Deakin University (including candidates whose thesis is under examination). Graduands and graduates are not eligible.

Competitors who are eligible on the date of their first presentation in their local competition will be considered eligible for the duration of that year's competition. So if a competitor graduates before the date of the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition they will still be eligible.


The presentation will be a talk accompanied only by a single static PowerPoint slide. This means that animations and the like are not permitted; additional electronic media such as sound and video files are not permitted; and props such as costumes, instruments or pieces of scientific equipment are not permitted. 'Talk' means talk (so no poems, raps or songs).

Presentations are strictly limited to three minutes. Competitors whose talk exceeds three minutes will be disqualified.

The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging criteria

  1. Communication style: was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
  2. Comprehension: did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
  3. Engagement: did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  4. Further elaboration on the judging criteria can be found on the 3MT web site.

Key dates

Starting from May, the Deakin competition will be organised into heats conducted by Schools, followed by semi-finals conducted by Faculties and the Institute of Frontier Materials, and a University final conducted by Deakin Research.

Trans-Tasman final: Monday 3rd November 2014, The University of Western Australia.

Deakin University 2014 Winners

First place: Mr Morgan Burcher, Faculty of Arts & Education: The application of social network analysis to crime intelligence.

Runner up: Ms Jane Willcox, Faculty of Health: txt4two - a mobile phone intervention promoting healthy pregnancy weight gain.

People's choice: Mr Michael Do, Faculty of Health: Brain stimulation and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

All videos of the top ten presentations can be viewed on YouTube.

Morgan Burcher received $2000 in prize money and a trip to Perth to represent Deakin in the national final.

How to enter

Please complete the Deakin 3MT entry form (DOCX, 39.6 KB) and submit via email to Brona O'Brien by 5:00pm Wednesday 30th April. If you have any questions please contact Brona O'Brien or consult your HDR Coordinator for details of the initial rounds of the 3MT competition in your area.

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