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 Centre for Art History & Theory 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

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 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. 




College final

First prize: $1000 research support grant

ANU final

  • First prize: a place in the 3MT 2018 Asia Pacific final and $4000 research support grant generously supported by PARSA
  • Runner up: $500 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

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.


  • 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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