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.


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.


3MT at GW

All participants must be active CCAS PhD students who will have successfully advanced to candidacy before the end of Fall 2019. Students must be in good academic standing.

The 3MT competition will be held on Thursday, February 27 2020,  from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Registration for the 3MT Competition is now open!

How to Prepare

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


  • 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.


Judging Criteria

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


First Place

Elizabeth Pertner

PhD in 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