Three Minute Thesis competition

An academic competition for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates.

Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) challenges Higher Degree by Research candidates (HDR) to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience using a single PowerPoint slide.

Being able to give a concise pitch about your thesis is a key skill, one which helps you keep focused on what is most important about your research as you are writing. Candidates wishing to compete must present a compelling three minute oration on their thesis topic and its significance in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience using a single power point slide. Entrants will be judged on how well they communicate as well as their creativity.

So even if you don’t want to participate in the 3 Minute Thesis competition, this session will help you to refine your core ideas and prepare you for that next BBQ where someone asks "So what is your thesis all about then?"

Active PhD candidates who have passed their Confirmation of Candidature milestone by the date of their first presentation.

Masters by Research and pre-confirmation PhD candidates who were active in program can participate in the School and College level competition but cannot advance to the RMIT® 3MT Final.

Refer to the Three Minute Thesis eligibility criteria for more details.

Important Information about the 2021 3MT competition:

2021's competition was a Virtual 3MT, with each participant submitting a video entry.

Candidates weren't judged on the quality of your video or editing capabilities - the judging panel only based on the quality of presentation, ability to communicate to non-specialist audiences and powerpoint slides. 

Candidates competed with other candidates from their School or College in the initial heats, and the winners of the School/College heats then competed in the RMIT Final on 8 September 2021.

All levels of the competition were conducted virtually by video submission to ensure people were not disadvantaged by technical issues or internet connection problems.

Entries will be opening soon, so start preparing! Check your inbox for information about the 2022 competition.

Candidates must present their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes. It is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research, but rather encourage candidates to consolidate their ideas and crystallize their research discoveries.

The oration should engage the audience without reducing research to entertainment value alone.

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). 

Videos must meet the following criteria:

  • Filmed on the horizontal (landscape format)
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • The 3 minute audio must be continuous - no sound edits or breaks
  • 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 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

We’ve made available some resources to help when preparing to participate in the 3MT – all enrolled HDR candidates have access to these within PhD Up Online in Canvas. Details about training sessions will be released shortly.

Presentations will be judged on the basis of two criteria:

1. Comprehension and 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?

2. Engagement and 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?
  • First Prize
  • Runner Up
  • People’s Choice Award

We encourage PhD candidates to watch the school level play offs to find out what their fellow candidates are up to.

Hallway of Micro Nano Research Facility

Interested in an RMIT PhD?

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.