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 have to talk about 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 ANU 3MT final will go on to compete in the Asia Pacific final, held at the University of Queensland on 30th of September. Tweeting about this? Use #ANU3MT

How to win the 3MT

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.

This year's 3MT training was designed to assist HDR candidates of any level develop skills in a wide range of presentation types. 

How to enter the 3MT competition

The first step to competing in the 3MT is to participate in you College training and competition. Each of the seven Colleges at The Australian National University (ANU) will 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.

There was also a 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 27 August 2016. There was 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 earned an automatic 'wild card' entry to the ANU final.

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


3MT Thesis Boot Camp

Finalists of the 3MT College competitions were eligible to apply for a place in our August Thesis Boot Camp. This camp was held at the ANU Kioloa Coastal Campus from Monday 1 August - Wednesday 3 August 2016. Travel, food and accommodation for the Thesis Boot Campis free for 3MT College competitors and had limited places. The concept of Thesis Boot Camp was disarmingly simple. An experienced writing teacher was available to guide you to improve your writing during the camp, along with 3MT specialised training. We provided regular breaks for physical activity, food, and social activities. Many students wrote over 10,000 words on a Thesis Boot Camp, and some even wrote up to 25,000 words.


ANU Final

The 3MT ANU Final was held on Wednesday 14 September 2016 at 6.00pm in Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music.  The winner of the ANU Final will proceed to the 3MT grand (Asia-Pacific) final on Friday 30 September, 2016 at the University of Queensland.



College final

First prize: $1000 research support grant

ANU final

  • First prize: a place in the 3MT 2016 Asia Pacific final and $4000 research support grant (includes cost of travel and accommodation to represent ANU in the 3MT 2016 Asia Pacific final)
  • Runner up: $500 research support grant
  • People's choice: $500 research support grant
  • Other finalists: $50 book vouchers
  • A further $500 prize will be given to a supervisor or panel nominated by the ANU finalist winner

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 Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research and Research Training and the Postgraduate and Research Students' Association (PARSA) for providing the research support grant funding for the College and ANU finals.



Active 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.



  • 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 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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