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Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

3MT competition 2018

See competition details below for information/dates on Curtin heats and final.

Go to The University of Queensland Three Minute Thesis website for resources, such as the 3MT Competitor Guide, rules (including the judging criteria) and FAQs.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) that celebrates the exciting research conducted by research students. PhD students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance. 3MT challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience. Participation will help foster students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.

The first 3MT was held at The University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 research higher degree students competing. Enthusiasm for the competition concept grew and its widespread implementation by universities has led to the development of an international competition.

Strong support for the competition exists in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with more than 40 institutions coming together to participate in the 2014 Trans-Tasman 3MT Competition held at UWA. The global reach of the competition can be seen by the extent of participation with universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Vietnam also hosting local 3MT events, as captured in the official 3MT Showcase.

The winner of the 2017 3MT competition was Becky White, School of Public Health, for her topic ‘Milk Man: A breastfeeding app for dads”.  Becky competed in a field of 50 competitors at the Australia-Pacific Final at UQ where she finished in the top 10.

In 2014, Curtin student, Sarah Marley, took out first place at the Asia Pacific final.

This is a fantastic opportunity for students to represent Curtin University at a national level as well as win prizes!

3MT competition details: rules and criteria

Competition format and dates 2018

The competition will be held in two stages. The first stage will involve 3 heats on Bentley campus with a separate heat being conducted at the Sarawak campus:

  • One heat will be held for Faculty of Health Sciences (four finalists),
  • One heat for Science & Engineering (4 finalists) and 
  • One heat for Faculty of Business and Law combined with Faculty of Humanities (four finalists).  

These 12 finalists, along with the winner of the Sarawak heat, will compete in a University-wide final . The winner of the Curtin final will go on to compete in the Asia-Pacific Final at The University of Queensland on Thursday 27 September 2018.

Go to The University of Queensland Three Minute Thesis website for resources, such as the 3MT Competitor Guide, rules (including the judging criteria) and FAQs.

Important dates 2018

  • Registration closing date – Monday 13 August (See Registration section below)
  • 3MT Information session – Wednesday 8 August 12-2pm, TBC
  • 3MT practice session 1 – Wednesday 15 August 12-2pm, TBC
  • 3MT practice session 2 – Wednesday 22August 12-2pm, TBC
  • Slide due date – Friday 24 August
  • Heats 1, 2 & 3 – Tuesday 28 August, TBC
  • Curtin Final – Friday 31 August, TBC
  • Asia-Pacific Final – Thursday 27 September at The University of Queensland

Contact details

For further information contact Tania Lerch via

Eligibility criteria

  • Only Doctoral* students who have successfully passed their Candidacy by 13 August 2018 are eligible to participate in the Final of the Curtin 3MT competition, and the Asia-Pacific 3MT final at UQ.

Doctoral degrees where the minimum research component is at least two/thirds of the degree.

  • Graduates are not eligible.
  • Previous contestants are welcome to participate again.
  • Masters by Research* and pre-candidacy doctoral students are eligible to participate in the heats of the Curtin 3MT competition, but cannot advance to the Curtin 3MT Final.
  • Students from all study areas are eligible to participate.

*Please Note: For Masters Degrees to be eligible for the heats they must be at least two-thirds research (definition drawn from Grant Guidelines 2006 for Higher Education Support Act (HESA) 2003) and produce a thesis that is examined externally.

Registration details

Email the following registration information by Monday 14 August to

  • Title (Mr/Ms/Mrs)
  • First name
  • Surname
  • Full Name for your Certificate of Participation
  • Student ID
  • School
  • Faculty
  • Email
  • Mobile Phone
  • Course
  • 3MT Title
  • Thesis Title
  • 100 Word summary
  • Bio – 1 paragraph  (50-70 words)
  • slide – submit by 24 August*

*Competitors use a single, static PowerPoint slide for their presentation. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are permitted. No electronic media (e.g. sound or video files) are permitted either. The slide must be submitted by 24August 2018.  Download Slide template – format is onscreen show 4-3

A confirmation email will be sent once we have processed your registration.


The prizes for Curtin 3MT Competition 2018 are awaiting confirmation, but it is proposed:

  • The winner of the Curtin Final will receive $1000 towards research expenses and the opportunity to compete in the Asia-Pacific Final at The University of Queensland, including travel, accommodation and registration expenses.
  • The runner-up will receive $500 towards research expenses.
  • The remaining finalists will receive a $100 gift voucher from the Curtin Co-op.
  • The People’s Choice winner (as voted by the audience) will receive $200 towards research expenses.

3MT competition rules

All participants must abide by the following rules of the competition:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description, 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 area.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.

Judging criteria

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

1. 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?

2. 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?


Winners 2017

  • First Prize – Becky White, School of Public Health, ‘Milk Man: A breastfeeding app for dads’
  • Runners’ up  – jointly awarded to Glenn Cardwell, School of Public Health for ‘Mushroom D-light Consumers’, and Charlene Shoneye, also School of Public Health for ‘Dietitian in your pocket’
  • People’s Choice Award – Glenn Cardwell, School of Public Health for ‘Mushroom D-light Consumers’

3MT past winners

3MT 2014

Sarah Marley, from the Centre for Marine Science and Technology, was not only judged winner of the Curtin final, but went on to win the Trans-Tasman 3MT final held at the University of Western Australia, ahead of 47 other contestants representing universities from around Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. Speaking to Curtin staff after her triumph, Sarah said “Previously there has been a strong focus on presenting research academically, through conference talks and journal articles.  But it is just as important to communicate research to the general public. Events like 3MT are an important way of not only training young researchers in important communication skills, but making it fun to do so”.

3MT 2011

The Three Minute Thesis Competition 2011, was organised by the Curtin University Postgraduate Student Association (CUPSA). In total, twelve students participated in the preliminary heats and four students were shortlisted to compete in the final competition. Ms Bich Nguyen won the competition and participated in grand final held at the University of Western Australia, Perth on 29 September 2011. Ms Neeti Trivedi, a research student from the Faculty of Humanities won the People’s Choice Award.

Bich Nguyen (PhD student in the Faculty of Humanities) Curtin Winner

“Being a shy person by nature, I forced myself to participate in this contest to become more confident. After the contest, I did feel more confident about speaking in front of an intellectual public about my research project.”

Chandana Kulasuriya (PhD student in the Faculty of Science and Engineering) First Runner-up

“I really enjoyed participating in the 3MT Competition. Not only I enjoyed, but also I learnt a lot. My native language is not English; hence the 3MT Competition was really a challenge for me. However by participating in the competition I gained confidence and it helped me a lot to develop my presentation skills. Therefore I consider it as a ‘learning experience’ rather than a ‘competition’. How much you learn about swimming, you will not be able to swim till you get into the water. Likewise, how much you learn about presentation skills, you will not be able to do a presentation until you do a real presentation. In the swimming pool you start at 3 feet depth, so why not start from a 3 minute presentation?”

Nick Pendergrast (PhD student in the Faculty of Humanities) Finalist

“I really enjoyed participating in last year’s 3MT competition. It was useful practise in terms of communicating ideas in a clear and concise way. It also helped me narrow down my PhD thesis, by forcing me to sum it up in 3 minutes and really focus in on the key themes my thesis is exploring. It was also very interesting to get insight into so many different theses all in just a couple of hours!”

Caris Lae Jalla (MPhil student from the Faculty of Health Sciences) Finalist

Neeti Trivedi (PhD student in the Faculty of Humanities) Winner of People’s Choice Award

“Participating in 3MT competition was an exciting and challenging experience. It was definitely a thought-provoking process of defining thesis in just 3 minutes. The process has absolutely boosted my confidence towards my research, and has improved my presentation skills. Reflection on key terms and ideas, communication in a concise way and a big smile on your face is the way to go. Overall, it was a very stimulating process to see every presenter’s passion towards their theses.”