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Further Enquiries

Adelaide Graduate Centre
Level 6, 115 Grenfell Street
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

Telephone: +61 8 8313 5882
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 5725

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The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition (2012)

Final Tuesday 11 September 5.30pm as part of Research Tuesdays

Registrations open Monday 2 April 2012

What is it?

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.

What it is not

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 2010

Adelaide University finalist.

National finalists.

Interview with the national finalist.  


  • a single PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions are permitted)
  • no additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted
  • no additional props (e.g. costumes, instruments [musical, laboratory etc]) are permitted
  • presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes will be disqualified
  • the decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

  • 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?

Who is eligible to enter?

HDR students who are actively enrolled in a PhD or Masters 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).

Why do it?

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.

Prizes (or the Why do it - part 2)

  • 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
  • Every competitor who participates in the school/discipline/faculty heats will also receive  Piled Higher and Deeper comics merchandise (designed by Jorge Cham for this competition)

Competition timeframe

The University of Adelaide competition

  • Registrations open 2 April and close 31 May 2012: late entries may be considered at the discretion of the Faculty Competition Coordinators
  • June - August 2012: School and faculty heats (with 2 finalists from each Faculty to go through to the University final event)
  • Tuesday 11 September 2012: University final (10 competitors) – , North Terrace Campus. The final is to be held in as part of Research Tuesdays.

The Australia and New Zealand competition

  • The University of Queensland will host the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis competition in 2012.
  • The winner of our University competition will represent the University of Adelaide at the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis competition finals on date tbc.
  • 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.

How to enter?

  • Registrations open 2 May 2012. 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.
3 minute thesis image


Faculty/school competition coordinators

Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Erwin Gamboa
Phone: 8313 5473

Health Sciences
Kate Chadwick
Phone: 8313 6494

Humanities and Social Sciences
Heather Kerr
Phone: 8313 5031

Allayne Webster & Paul Babie
Phone: 8313 0225 & 8313 35521

Chris Ford
Phone: 8313 7386

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