3MT: The Three Minute Thesis Competition

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What is Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

The Three Minute Thesis is an international competition for higher degree research students to showcase their research. Students present to an audience on what their research is and why it is important in plain language for three minutes, with only a single PowerPoint slide. The winner of the #ANU3MT final will go on to compete in the Asia Pacific final, held at the University of Queensland. In 2016 Joshua Chu-Tan from the John Curtin School of Medical Research won the 3MT Asia Pacific final in Brisbane and in 2014, Rosanna Stevens from the College of Arts and Social Sciences won second place and people's choice in the trans-Tasman final at the University of Western Australia.

Why participate in the 3MT?

The 3MT provides the opportunity for candidates to develop presentation skills that are crucial for a successful career post PhD, inside and outside of academia. If you are curious about the 3MT and developing your presentation skills, come along to the training on offer. There is no expectation on you to compete; we are keen for everyone to develop their skills and confidence with presenting research. Please note, only enrolled ANU HDR candidates may participate in the ANU 3MT Final.

Key Dates

Wednesday, 25 July                  How to win the 3MT workshop (Inger Mewburn)    

Wednesday, 25 July                  Storyboard your research with the Thesis Whisperer

Wednesday, 1 August               Three minute theatre writing workshop

Thursday, 9 August                   Performance and strategic communication workshop

Wednesday, 15 August             Three minute thesis clinic (Inger Mewburn)

All week, 20 - 24 August          3MT College finals

Saturday, 25 August                 ANU Open Day - 3MT Wildcard People’s Choice final

Wednesday, 5 September       #ANU3MT feedback one on one

Thursday, 6 September            #ANU3MT feedback one on one

Friday, 7 September                 #ANU3MT camp, mandatory for all ANU 3MT finalists

Tuesday, 11 September           Dress rehearsal, mandatory for all ANU 3MT finalists      

Wednesday, 12 September     #ANU3MT FINAL, Llewellyn Hall, 6-8pm

Thursday, 27 September         Asia Pacific 3MT Final 2018, University of Queensland


ANU Open Day People’s Choice Competition

Runners up from ANU College finals gain the opportunity to win a place in the #ANU3MT Final by participating in the ANU Open Day People's Choice Competition on 25 August. The ANU Open Day People’s Choice Competition will occur at 11am at the ANU Pop Up Village main stage. The audience will vote using their mobile phones or devices for the ‘Wild Card entry’ to the ANU Final stage. The 3MT presentation with the most votes wins.

#ANU3MT Final

The #ANU3MT ANU Final will be held on Wednesday 12th September 2018 at 6.00pm in Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music. Tickets are available here.  Join us for an evening of smart entertainment and catch a glimpse of the amazing research projects that being conducted on campus by ANU PhD students suitable for whole family. On the night, thirteen finalists will wow you and the judges for the #ANU3MT 2018 crown, $4000 in prize money and a place in the 3MT Asia-Pacific grand final at the University of Queensland. 

Judging Panel for #ANU3MT Final 2018

Professor Mike Calford

Professor Calford, started at ANU this year, moving up from Hobart where he was Provost of the University of Tasmania. In addition to his university leadership career, Mike is a leading researcher in the field of neuroscience. After receiving a doctorate at Monash University, Mike held research and teaching roles at the Universities of Queensland and Melbourne, and at ANU. He also worked overseas at the University of Oxford, the University of California Irvine and City University of New York.

Elizabeth Lee MLA

Elizabeth moved to Canberra from Sydney to study law at the ANU. Elizabeth practised law in government and private practice, before becoming a law lecturer at both ANU and UC. Elizabeth was elected to the seat of Kurrajong in October 2016 and currently is Assistant Speaker, Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Disability, and Shadow Minister for the Environment. In addition to her busy parliamentary schedule Elizabeth also teaches Sha’bam and Body Balance classes around Canberra!

Professor Tom Calma

Professor Calma is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia. The 2013 ACT Australian of the Year has been involved with the tertiary education sector since 1980. During this time, he has tirelessly campaigned on health, social justice, inclusion and equality issues. Tom is currently Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking and the Chancellor of the University of Canberra (the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander man to become Chancellor of an Australian university).

Lish Fejer

Lish Fejer grew up on large stations in the bush before studying Biochemistry at ANU. After travelling the world, Lish came back to Canberra to work with Questacon and has worked in the field of science communication as a presenter, speaker, writer and exhibition developer ever since. Lish was co-host of ABC TV's eco-home-reno show Carbon Cops and is the creator and presenter of Green It Yourself, an online resource for making your home an energy efficiency machine. She joined the ABC Radio Canberra team in 2010 and is currently the host of Sunday Brunch. 

Dr Mathew Trinca

Dr Mathew Trinca is the current Director of the National Museum of Australia. Mathew is a graduate of the University of Western Australia, and has a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He has research interests in the social and cultural relationships between Britain and Australia, and in museological theory and practice. He previously worked as a consultant for public history projects including conservation plans, exhibition developments and short documentary films.

Diane Kargas Bray AM

Diane has been a tireless contributor to the Canberra community and mentor for people in the charitable and not for profit sector. Diane was the ACT Local Hero in 2004, and in 2007 was recognised by the International Women's Day Award for services to the ACT Community. In 2009 she was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for her services to philanthropy, aged care, people with disabilities and juvenile diabetes research. Diane is currently the Chair of two charities, Common Ground and Hands Across Canberra, and this year was named 2018 Canberra Citizen of the Year.


College final

First prize: $1000 research support grant generously supported by Dean, Higher Degree Research

ANU Open Day People’s Choice Competition

ANU final

  • First prize: a place in the 3MT 2018 Asia Pacific final and $4000 research support grant generously supported by PARSA
  • Runner up: $1000 research support grant generously funded by PARSA
  • People's choice: $500 research support grant generously funded by PARSA
  • Other finalists: $250 support grant generously funded by PARSA
  • A prize will be given to a supervisor or panel member nominated by the ANU finalist winner, generously supported by Dean, Higher Degree Research

Asia-Pacific Final

  • First prize: $5000 research travel grant.
  • Runner up: $2000 research travel grant
  • People's choice: $1000 research travel grant

We thank the Dean of Higher Degree Research and the Postgraduate and Research Students' Association (PARSA) for providing the research support grant funding for the College and ANU finals.



Active ANU PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their Submission of thesis proposal for review (TPR; including candidates whose thesis is under submission) are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.

MPhil and pre-TPR PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who are active in program are eligible to participate in the ANU 3MT competition up to and including the College finals but cannot advance to the ANU 3MT final.

In 2018, a new rule was created to ensure fairness in the competition. ANU 3MT finalists are ineligible for any further competitions, at the school or college level. Instead, we encourage their participation and involvement as role models and ambassadors. Candidates that have participated in a school or college level and have not continued on to the ANU Final are welcome and encouraged to participate at the school or college level again.


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, 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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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 movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


Judging criteria

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension & 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 & 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?

How to enter the 3MT competition

The first step to competing in the 3MT is to participate in our campus wide training then compete in your School or College competition. Each of the seven Colleges at The Australian National University (ANU) run an in-house competition prior to the ANU final. The winner(s) from each College will receive a $1,000 research support grant and proceed to the ANU final at 6 pm, 12 September 2018 Llewellyn Hall, ANU.

There is also a 'wild card' people's choice entry for the ANU final. Participants of the College finals had the opportunity to perform their 3MT presentations at ANU Open Day on Saturday 25 August 2018. There are cash prizes up for grabs (1st: $1000, 2nd: $500, 3rd: $250, and all other participants on the Open Day received a $50 gift card). The ANU Open Day 3MT winner earns an automatic 'wild card' entry to the ANU final in September.

To enquire about 3MT in your College email the following:


How-to videos


Slide presentation and infographic

How to talk about your thesis in three minutes by Dr Inger Mewburn
Three steps to perfect your thesis pitch


Past Competitions Videos


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