3MT: The Three Minute Thesis Competition

Provider business unit: Researcher Development »

    What is Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

    The Three Minute Thesis (often abbreviated to 3MT) is a hugely successful international competition which sees higher degree research candidates demonstrating their communication skills while showcasing their research. Participants present to non-specialist audiences giving insight into their research and its importance, in accessible and engaging language, for three short minutes, using only a single PowerPoint slide. It is the ultimate test of the researcher as communicator. The winner of the #ANU3MT final will go on to compete in the Asia Pacific final, which in 2023 will be a virtual, submission-by-video event.

    This year's ANU Three Minute Thesis competition proved - yet again - that not only is ANU a world leader in research, but that its researchers are some of the best communicators around. Huge congratulations go to Saishyam Ramesh, from the Maier lab, who is researching cholesterol uptake in malaria parasites, for picking up both the first prize and the People's Choice award and Nick Bariesheff, from the Clear Vision Research Lab, who is researching exercise and vision science, and who performed brilliantly in second place.

    ANU has achieved incredible success in the 3MT competition over the years. In 2021, Tharika Liyanage from the Research School of Earth Sciences won silver in the 3MT Virtual Asia Pacific final, in 2019, Lithin Louis from the John Curtin School of Medical Research won silver in the 3MT Asia Pacific final in Brisbane, 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.

    The ANU also hosts the largest final in the world, with over 1,000 people attending annually to witness the communication skills of our PhD candidates and to hear how they are changing the world around them and making it a better place.


    Why should I take part in 3MT?

    Whether you like it or not, to have any chance at succeeding these days, you need to be able to talk about who you are and what you do to any audience, in any context and in any format. 3MT provides the opportunity for HDR candidates to develop the presentation skills that are crucial for a successful career post-PhD - both inside and outside academia. If you are interested in 3MT or are just keen to develop your communication and presentation skills, come along to the training on offer in the table below. There is no expectation on you to compete. Please note, only enrolled ANU HDR candidates may participate in the ANU 3MT Final. 

    2023 competition dates

    May 9  

    3MT launch/information workshop

    May 18  

    How to win 3MT – 1st workshop 

    May 25  

    How to win 3MT – 2nd workshop 

    May 31  

    3MT try outs – session 1  

    June 14  

    3MT try outs – session 2

    June 16 to 29  

    College heats take place  

    June 30

    Finalists announced

    July 4  

    Finalists planning meeting

    July 10 to 14   

    One-on-one coaching for finalists  

    July 17  

    Communication/presentation skills workshop 1

    July 19  

    Communication/presentation skills workshop 2

    July 20  

    Individual training sessions  

    July 21  

    Technical rehearsal

    July 25  

    Full dress rehearsal

    July 26  

    Grand Final Eve competitors’ event  

    July 27   

    ANU 3MT Final

    October 18  

    Asia-Pacific 3MT Final 

    To receive information about 3MT training, please complete the form here.


    The Dean HDR will generously award a total prize pool of $12,000 at the 2023 final as follows:

    • $4,000 will be provided to the winner of the ANU final
    • $2,500 prize for the second runner up 
    • $1,000 prize for the people’s choice
    • A $500 research grant will go to all remaining finalists presenting in the ANU 3MT 2023 final


    3MT Finalists

    Twelve candidates from the colleges will go through to the ANU final as follows:

    • COS: 3
    • CHM: 2
    • CAP: 2
    • CASS: 2
    • CECS: 1
    • CBE: 1
    • CoL: 1


    ANU Final Eligibility

    Only active ANU PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed thesis proposal review (TPR) are eligible to compete in the ANU final – this includes candidates who have submitted, but not graduated.  MPhil and pre-TPR PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who are active in program are eligible to participate in the College finals, but cannot advance to the ANU 3MT final. 

    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. 

    ANU 3MT Final Rules 

    The ANU 3MT final at Llewellyn Hall will showcase of twelve live presenters. Judges will use the same criteria for the selection of prize winners across the whole showcase. In the event that a nominated finalist is unable to attend, their runner up will be offered a chance to present. Please note that participation in the competition training post-June 30 is mandatory for all finalists, and that 3MT is an in-person competition with remote presentation not permitted. 

    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 any key results of the research, conclusions and outcomes achieved thus far?
    • Was the presentation well structured and follow a clear and logical sequence?
    • Was the language used in the presentation appropriate for a non-specialist audience?

    Engagement & communication

    • Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?
    • Did the presenter convey their enthusiasm for their research?
    • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
    • Did the speaker have a good stage presence?
    • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?


    ANU 3MT Final tickets

    To book tickets for the ANU Final at 6pm on July 27, please go to Eventbrite here; tickets are free, but capacity is limited so early booking is encouraged. And, if you can't join us in person, why not watch the livestream of the event? Register here and we'll send you a reminder the day before to make sure you don't miss out.


    Some suggested resources

    And remember: You Tube and Vimeo are your friends!

    One of the advantages of the digital age is that pretty much anything worth seeing is out there somewhere online! Go to your favourite search engine and enter “3MT” and you will find literally hundreds and hundreds of examples of powerful presentations. Be inspired, analyse why they were successful, and apply what you learn to make your own presentations just that little bit better.