Three Minute Thesis (3MT) – Dissertation Competition

A 100-page dissertation could take hours to present. Can you do it in 3 minutes?


Two students studying in University Yard


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition celebrates the existing research conducted by PhD students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), 3MT cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

2020 3MT

Columbian College PhD students stepped up to a speed-challenge in the 2020 Three Minute Thesis Competition. Human Paleobiology student Kimberly Foecke won this year's first place with her thesis "Nitrogen, Neanderthals, and Seeing Diet in the Past." The second-place winner was Economics' Abhilasha Sahay whose thesis is titled "The Silenced Women: Can Public Activism Stimulate Disclosure of Violence Against Women." Cognitive Neuroscience's Michelle Kramer took home both the third-place and people's choice award for her thesis "Context Matters: How Previous Events Influence Airport Baggage Screening Success." 



First Place

Kimberly Foecke

Human Paleobiology

Nitrogen, Neanderthals, and Seeing Diet in the Past.



PhD student Abhilasha Sahay presents her thesis

Second Place

Abhilasha Sahay


The Silenced Women: Can Public Activism Stimulate Disclosure of Violence Against Women.

PhD student Michelle Kramer presents her thesis

Third Place & People's Choice

Michelle Kramer

Cognitive Neuroscience

Context Matters: How Previous Events Influence Airport Baggage Screening Success.


Competition Details

The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates competing. In 2009 and 2010, the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multinational event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010.

Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.

  • All participants must be active CCAS PhD students who will have successfully advanced to candidacy. Students must be in good academic standing.
  • 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 (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 either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Check out the official Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Vimeo channel to view past presentations from around the globe.

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • 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 and Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize 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?


2019 Winners

2019 GW 3MT Presentation - Elizabeth Pertner

First Place

Elizabeth Pertner

Political Science

Watching the Watchdog

Matthew Lefler presenting his thesis

Second Place

Matthew Lefler


Making Carbon Nanotubes from Thin Air

Chelsea Ullman presenting her thesis

Third Place

Chelsea Ullman

Public Policy and Administration

How Can Policy be Used to Get Justice for Campus Sexual Assault Survivors?

Jiaqi O'Reilly presenting her thesis

People's Choice

Jiaqi J. O'Reilly

Biomedical Sciences: Neuroscience

The Placenta: The Most Important Organ That Everyone Loses