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3MT Three Minute Thesis Competition

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Date: 22nd September 2017
Venue: AMDC301, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn Campus

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Three minute thesis competition


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the exercise 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.

Join us to see Swinburne's student finalists compete on 22nd September!


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, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.
* Professional Doctorate (Research) (program composed of at least 2/3 research) and funded via the Research Training Scheme (for Australian students). Professional Doctorate (coursework) students and Masters students are not eligible for the 3MT® Asia-Pacific competition.

Why participate?

Skills development for research candidates

The exercise develops academic, presentation and research communication skills, while developing research candidates’ ability to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Building research culture in schools and institutes

3MT provides a valuable opportunity for research higher degree candidates to come together, get to know one another and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which Schools and Institutes can provide presentation skills training.

Building external relations for the university

3MT winners may go on to represent their university at national and international 3MT competitions which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity. Previous 3MT finalists have benefited from invitations to a variety of other networking events following their participation in the competition.

Click here for more information on the 3MT Asia-Pacific Competition

Contact Information: Charlotte Coles

Rules & Judging Criteria


  • 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 (eg. 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

Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • 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 & 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?

2017 Swinburne University Competition

2016 Swinburne University Final

Friday 22 September, AMDC301

Contact: Charlotte Coles. Coordinator, Research Development


Phone: 9214 8434


2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Swinburne University Competition

2016 Swinburne University Final

Winner : Umamageswari Suparamaniam - Electrical Stimulation for Culturing Muscle Stem Cells
Runner Up : Alena Skalon - Preventing Wrongful Convictions
People’s Choice : Dany Vohl - Astronomy is drowning in Big Data: what can we do to stay afloat

2015 Swinburne University Final

Winner : Emily Petroff - Astronomy in the blink of an eye: The fastest events in the Universe
Runner Up : Michelle Noon - Exploring fear of crime gender paradox using experimental methods
People’s Choice : Jamie Bryne - Rhythm and Blues: Timing is the Key to Happiness.

A special mention went to Sarah King, (FBL) with her presentation, Innovation networks that support industrial symbiosis for SME’s.

Watch the finalist videos here

2014 Swinburne University Final

Winner : Javeria Jalal –Ultrasound is skimming cream/milk fat from milk
Runner Up : Sahar Sohrabi – Preventing burn-outs in the cloud
People’s Choice : Emma Carland – Optical Fibre Tumour Detection Sensor

2013 Swinburne University Final

Winner : Ms Fatemeh Mekanik - Long-term Rainfall Forecasting
Runner Up : Pei Yi Wang - Using Negative Publicity thorugh Social Media to Redue Power Distance: Giving Victims of Corruption a Proactive Voice
People's Choice : Leonard Hoon - The App Store Landscape: Extracting Signal from Noise in User Reviews


University 3MT Competition Prizes

  • Winner: $3000 research travel grant (including the cost of travel and accommodation to Brisbane to compete in the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition at the University of Queensland)
  • Runner-up: $1000 research travel grant
  • People's Choice: $500 research travel grant

Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition Prizes

  • First Prize: $5000 research travel grant including entry to the 2017 Falling Walls Lab Final and Conference in Berlin
  • Runner-up: $2000 research travel grant
  • People’s Choice: $1000 research travel grant

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


  • What is 3MT?
  • A - The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a skills development activity that challenges Research Higher Degree students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.
  • Q - How long is each 3MT presentation?
  • A - Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum, and competitors exceeding three minutes will be disqualified.
  • Q - What is allowed on the presenter's 3MT PowerPoint slide?
  • A - One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. In preparing the slide, remember that 'less is more', it does not have to include text. Visual cues are very effective in assisting the presenter's explanation of their research (however, no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any kind can be used).
  • Q - Can sound or video be used during a presentation?

  • A - No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) is permitted during a 3MT presentation.

  • Q - Can additional props be used during a presentation?

  • A - No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted during a 3MT presentation.

  • Q - Can palm cards or speech notes be refered to during a presentation?

  • A - Yes, palm cards and/or speech notes are acceptable, however this option may detract from the delivery of the 3MT and is not recommended.

  • Q – While presenters can’t deliver their 3MT as a poem or song, can they quote from a poem or song?

  • A - Yes, quotes can be included from a poem or song if it is relevant to the presenter's thesis topic. Poetry and song lyrics are not permitted to be used as a tool to deliver the 3MT as a whole and their use to be very limited.

  • Q - Who is eligible to enter the 3MT competition?

  • A - Students who are active in a PhD or MPhil program (including thesis under submission) are eligible to enter the 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.
  • Competitors who are eligible on the date of their first presentation in their enrolling unit (School or Institute) competition shall remain so until the Trans-Tasman Final (if they progress through to that stage of the competition) irrespective of subsequent changes to their status (e.g. those who have degrees conferred before the date of the Trans-Tasman Final).