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Researcher Education and Development
School of Education
Level 8, Nexus 10
SA 5005

Telephone: +61 8 8313 3022
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 5725

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland. The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes in a language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. The 3MT is held each year during September and October.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our finalists in the 2013
3 Minute Thesis
The People's Choice Winner:

Check out all of our finalists on line

More competition information and resources are available from The University of Queensland.

 The 3MT competition provided me with a great opportunity to share my research with a wide audience, and to receive feedback from people with a whole range of expertise. 

Kaitlin Harkess  2013 University of Adelaide Winner
Participating in the 3MT offered me the opportunity to develop the communication skills necessary to express complicated research clearly and simply, whilst retaining its depth, and engaging the audience. I began developing these skills months before the first 3MT competition, back when I was first writing my 3MT. For example, when I began I was told my speech was ‘a bit boring' so I needed to look for ways to make the information relative to the audience; after all, everything is a bit more exciting when it has to do with one's self! After writing my 3MT I went through the next stage of rehearsing how I would actually present this speech to
an audience.
Overcoming my nerves and presenting my 3MT to a number of large audiences allowed me the opportunity to receive further feedback on my presentation skills, the content of the presentation itself, and to promote awareness of my research project. The benefit of presenting my research to such a large audience is that more and more people started making queries about what I was studying - if not for the 3MT these individuals would never have known about my project! Consequently, I believe that the 3MT provided me both the chance to develop my communication skills, and to effectively disseminate my research, ultimately increase the impact my research will have.

Emily Cock 2012 University of Adelaide Winner
The 3MT competition provided me with a great opportunity to share my research with a wide audience, and to receive feedback from people with a whole range of expertise.

It is an exercise in developing academic and research communication skills.

Research higher degree (PhD and Masters) students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.

It is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research. The oration should engage the audience without reducing research to entertainment value alone.

What does the competition and a winning presentation look like?

View presentations from the 2012 competition.

View presentations from the 2011 competition.

Adelaide University finalist.

Interview with the national finalist.


·         A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. 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 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.

·         Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. 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 either movement or speech.

·         The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.



  • Communication style: was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
  • Comprehension: did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
  • Engagement: did the oration make the audience want to know more?


HDR students who are actively enrolled in a PhD or Masters by Research program* (including thesis under submission) at the University of Adelaide. Competitors must also have completed their Major Review. Graduates are not eligible.
* Note: degree must be at least two thirds research (definition drawn from
Grant Guidelines 2006 for Higher Education Support Act (HESA) 2003).

The Three Minute Thesis Competition supports the development of research students’ capacity to communicate ideas effectively to a range of non-specialist audiences and to the wider community.

  • Competitors commonly report the experience helped them ‘crystallize’ thoughts about their thesis and how they communicate their research
  • Internal and external promotion of the value of PhD and MPhil research
  • Can be mapped onto PhD and MPhil progress/skills development
  • It’s a lot of fun and generates public and media interest in what researchers do.


  • The University of Adelaide Winner: a $2,000 grant to be used for specific travel in relation to higher degree by research e.g. attend a conference, and free travel and accommodation to attend the finals competition hosted by the University of Queensland.
  • People’s Choice Winner: a $1,000 grant to be used for specific travel in relation to higher degree by research degree e.g. attend a conference
  • All finalists: a $100 bookshop voucher


The University of Adelaide competition

Registrations open 2 April and close 17 June 2013: late entries may be considered at the discretion of the Faculty Competition Coordinators.

July- August 2013: School and faculty heats (with 2 finalists from each Faculty to go through to the University final event)

Faculty of Health Sciences heats - Tuesday 2 July & Wednesday 24 July at 2pm Hone Lecture Theatre
Faculty of Sciences heats - Tuesday 20 August 6pm Braggs Lecture Theatre Final others TBA
Faculty of Professions heats - Thursday 25 July 2pm Marjoribanks Building 126 Santos Lecuture Theatre
Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences heats - Friday 26 July Napier 205 11am-1pm
Faculty of Engineering, Computing & Mathematical Sciences heats -5.30pm Tuesday 30 July The Braggs Lecture Theatre

10 September 2013: University final (10 competitors) , National Wine Centre. The final is to be held in as part of Research Tuesdays.


  • The University of Western Sydney will host the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis competition in 2013.
  • The winner of our University competition will represent the University of Adelaide at the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis competition finals on 18 October.
  • There is a first prize of $5000, a runner-up prize of $2000 and a people’s choice prize of $1000.
  • The University whose competitor wins will host the Australia and New Zealand finals in the next year.


3 minute thesis


  • Registrations open 2 April 2013. ONLINE REGISTRATION
  • Following registration your faculty's competition coordinator will confirm your entry into the competition and provide you with the date and details of your school (or equivalent) / faculty heat.


Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Jade Harmer
Phone: 8313 6476

Health Sciences
Kate Chadwick
Phone: 8313 6494

Humanities and Social Sciences
Heather Kerr
Phone: 8313 5031

Adrijana Asceric
Phone: 8313 1790

Michelle Coe
Phone: 8313 3619