Three minute thesis competition

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

What is it?3MT logo

  • The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. 3MT cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
  • Initial rounds of the competition are organised by Schools and Faculties. The finalists from each Faculty/Institute will go through 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 Asia-Pacific competition. The Asia-Pacific winner will receive a $5000.

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. Participation in 3MT is recognised as an AHEGS-worthy training in your Individual Learning Plan.

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

Who is eligible to enter?

Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.

Please Note:

  • Competitors must be active PhD candidates and must have successfully completed confirmation of candidature.
  • Previous first place winners of the Deakin 3MT event are NOT eligible to enter again.
  • Students enrolled in any of the following programs are not eligible to enter the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition: Masters (MPhil and coursework) and Professional Doctorate (less than 2/3 research).


  • Presentations are limited to three minutes and competitors exceeding three 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 on 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 one minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
  • The three minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • 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 (only video link provided to Event Coordinators). Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.
  • Entries submitted for final adjudication the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition are to be submitted from the university 3MT Event Coordinator. Competitors should not submit their videos directly to 3MT.

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 re-record and submit a new presentation for entry into the next round.

See the 3MT Virtual Handbook (PDF, 2.4MB) for more information about drafting, slides, presentation, recording and submission

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?

How to enter

Please complete the Deakin 3MT 2021 entry form (DOCX, 25.2KB) and submit via email to your Faculty Coordinator.

If you have any questions please contact Deakin Research Training or consult your HDR Coordinator for details of the initial rounds of the 3MT competition in your area.

Deakin University 2020 3MT competition results

Winner and People's Choice Award: Nguyen Phuong Tran - Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion
Runner Up: Cracking the Case: How Milk Caseins Impact on Mental Health

View all video presentations

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