3MT: The Three Minute Thesis Competition

Provider business unit: Researcher Development »

    What is Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

    The Three Minute Thesis is an international competition for higher degree research candidates to showcase their research. Candidates 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 each year. ANU has achieved incredible success with the 3MT competition. 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 hear how our PhD candidates are changing the world around them.

    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.


    2022 competition dates




    All college and school finals take place this month – contact your local area for more information.

    1 August

    Colleges to send finalist nominations to Researcher Development

    9 - 13 August

    Reseracher Development will arrange a two hour private meeting with each finalist for coaching this week. These meetings will be in person, or via zoom for external candidates.

    25 August

    First 3MT dress rehearsal

    31 August

    Second 3MT dress rehearsal

    1 September

    3MT Final, 6-8pm


    ANU 3MT Winner Video Submission due to Univeristy of Queensland for the Asia-Pacific 3MT compeition 


    Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT Final live streamed


    Prize money will be supplied and distributed by the Dean HDR at the 3 Minute Thesis 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
    • $500 reserach grant for all remaining finalists presenting in the ANU 3MT 2022 final.

    The total prize pool for the ANU 3MT 2022 final is $12,000.

    3MT Finalists

    The number of candidates from each college to go through to the ANU finals will be as follows:

    • COS: 3
    • CHM: 2
    • CAP: 2
    • CASS: 2
    • CECS: 1
    • CBE: 1
    • CoL: 1
    • ANU3MT finalists 2022: 12

    ANU Final Eligibility

    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.

    ANU 3MT Final Rules 

    In 2021, the ANU has decided to offer a blended format for the 3MT final to ensure partiticpants on campus and off campus are able to participate. Candidates are required to successfully compete in a College level final, in order to gain access to the ANU 3MT final. The ANU 3MT final will showcase a mixture of 12 total live presenters and pre-recorded submissions. Judges will use the same critera for the selection of prize winners from the whole showcase.

    • On campus candidates: ANU 3MT finalists are required to participate in a two hour coaching session with Professor Inger Mewburn and Victoria Firth-Smith, and attend two dress rehersals to present at the 3MT Final on stage on 16 Setpember.
    • Off campus candidates: Candidates submitting their 3MT presentation remotely from interstate or overseas are required to attend a zoom coaching call with Professor Inger Mewburn and Victoria Firth-Smith and resubmit their final video, meeting the UQ Virtual 3MT Rules below by the 9th September, no changes can be made to the submitted 3MT video submission from this date. The video will be streamed at the virtual final on 16 September.

    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?

    UQ Virtual 3MT Rules

    • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 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 feature the HDR candidate presenting to camera and 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) this does not need to be displayed the entire presentation
    • 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 1 minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
    • The 3 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. Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.
    • 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.


    How-to videos

    Slide presentation and infographic

    Free images

    PowerPoint and design help

    Video recording

    • One Button Studio, an easy-to-use video recording facility located on Level 4 of Chifley Library
    • Adobe Spark is a free web-based video creation tool. You can create simple videos incorporating images, text and voiceover
    • Zoom is primarily a video conferencing tool, you can use Zoom to easily record videos of yourself or your computer screen
    • Movie Maker is a video and slideshow maker app available for Windows computers
    • iMovie is a free video creation tool for Mac computers and mobiles 

    Past #ANU3MT Final Videos