About 3 Minute Thesis

Information about the competition and details of who to contact.

Three Minute Thesis Logo

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.

About the competition

The 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition requires doctoral researchers to compete to deliver the best research presentation in just 3 minutes (and one slide). It is based on a concept developed by the University of Queensland which quickly spread across Australia and New Zealand, and has gone global.

The University of Edinburgh has run a 3MT competition every year since 2013.


  • 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.


Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels. Graduates are not eligible.

Judging Criteria

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 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?

More information about 3 Minute Thesis

Find detailed information about the 3 Minute Thesis Competition, including tips on how to prepare, in our new handbook for participants:

3 Minute Thesis participant handbook (PDF)

You may also find our web information helpful:

  1. How to enter and competition criteria 
  2. Frequently asked questions

The Prizes

College Prizes

At each College heat, three winners will be selected to go through to the University final; further prizes to be confirmed.

University Prizes

All those who take part at the University competition will have their presentations filmed and uploaded to the University YouTube channel. Our thanks go to the Principal for the generous donation of funds for this year’s prizes for the winners of the 3 Minute Thesis Finals. We are very grateful for this support, and are happy to announce this year’s prizes:

1st Prize: £1000

Runner up: £400 

Peoples’ Choice Award: £400 

The winner of the University of Edinburgh competition is then entered into the UK Competition and the international Universitas 21 Competition.

U21 Prizes

Details of the final prizes are still to be confirmed by Universitas 21.

Feedback from previous winners

Read our guest blog posts from Owen Gwydion James 2018 winner of the UK competition,  Chen Zhao, 2015 Competition Winner, Emma Hodcroft, 2014 Competition Winner, and Mara Götz, 2013 ‘People’s Choice’ Winner on their experience of the competition:

Read Owen Gwydion James's guest blog post


Contact information

Please contact Louise if you have any questions:

Louise McKay

Events Operations and Doctoral Programme Manager

Contact details