Three Minute Thesis Competition

The 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland for PhD candidates. With just three minutes to give a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance, the 3MT competition encourages research candidates to consolidate their ideas and crystallise their research discoveries.

UNSW 3MT 2021 Prizes
  • First prize $3,000 plus entry into the 2020 Asia-Pacific Competition at the University of Queensland as well as the U21 final, a virtual event with judges watching video entries rather than live presentations

  • Runner-up prize $1,500

  • Third prize $500

  • People's Choice $1,000

3MT - Eligibility, Rules and Judging Criteria


Active PhD and Professional Doctorate Research (program composed of at least 2/3 research and eligible for RTP) 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.

Please note: Students enrolled in any of the following programs are not eligible to enter the Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition:

  • Masters (MPhil and coursework); 

  • Professional Doctorate (coursework)


  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors. exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.

  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).

  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description).

  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.

  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).

  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.

  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

  • Entries submitted for final adjudication to Wildcard or University Final are to be submitted from the School/ Faculty/Institute 3MT Event Coordinator. Competitors should not submit their videos directly to 3MT.

Please note: Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.

Click here for more tips and tricks on how to participate in this year's 3MT competition.


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 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?


2020 UNSW 3MT Judges

Ella Archibald-Binge

Ella Archibald-Binge

Ella Archibald-Binge is the Indigenous Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. She was one of this year's Walkley Young Journalist of the Year award winners and previously worked at SBS, NITV and in regional newspapers. Ella is a proud descendant of the Kamilaroi people.

Edmond Roy

Edmond Roy

Edmond Roy began his journalism career in the southern Indian state of Kerala in the early 1980's with the government broadcaster, All India Radio. From there he made his way up to the eastern city of Hyderabad to work as a reporter for the now defunct newspaper Newstime. Hired as a local reporter by the ABC’s New Delhi office in 1988, he moved to Australia to work with Radio Australia in Melbourne. He returned to New Delhi as the ABC’s South Asia correspondent in 1996. Some of the networks he has worked for include, the BBC, CBC, NPR, CBS and Radio Austria. 

He was presenter of the Asia-Focus program on ABC TV, reporter for Lateline and ABC Radio before taking on the role of Executive Producer of the PM program. He retired from the ABC last year. 

A Woodrow Wilson scholar, Edmond is author of Australian Uranium and India: Ideology, Pragmatism & Politics. An avid South Asia watcher, these days Edmond can be spotted surfing somewhere on the New South Wales North coast. 

Natasha Mitchell

Natasha Mitchell

Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award-winning ABC science journalist, presenter, and podcaster. She hosts and produces ABC Radio National's weekly science and culture show, Science Friction. She was presenter of flagship ABC programs All in the Mind (2002-2012), and Life Matters (2012-2016). Natasha served as a board member and Vice President of the World Federation of Science Journalists, and awarded an MIT Knight Fellowship. She has an engineering degree (Monash) and a postgraduate diploma in Science Communication (ANU).

Laura Earl

Laura Earl

Having completed a double degree in Business and International Studies, Laura worked in government accreditation programming until she ventured to Europe as a tour guide. This sparked Laura’s desire to support young people and upon returning to Australia commenced her work at universities as the Social Program Manager at UTS. Laura launched a startup in 2011 and sold the brand in 2013, making the move into her true passion of entrepreneurship. As the Program Manager of MCIC Foundations, part of the UNSW Founders Program, Laura upskills over 10,000 staff, students and alumni every year to understand how an entrepreneurial mindset will create a positive and successful future.

Associate Professor Penny Martens

Associate Professor Penny Martens

Associate Professor Penny Martens is the Deputy Dean of Graduate Research for UNSW and an Associate Professor in the UNSW Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering. She received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado, USA in 2002. She then took up her academic position at UNSW in 2003. Her area of expertise is in polymer synthesis and characterisation, particularly the rational design of complex biomedical polymer systems.


2020 UNSW 3MT Final Winners

Congratulations to all of our 2020 contestants on their wonderful presentations!

Check out all our 2020 finalists here!

Faculty Heats Dates

Arts, Design and Architecture Wednesday, 26 May

Business School TBA

Engineering Friday, 2 July


Medicine TBA

Science TBA

UNSW Canberra Mid-June (TBA)

For more information on how to enter your Faculty heat, please visit UNSW Three Minute Thesis Faculty Heats


Why Enter 3MT?
After 3MT
2016 3MT Final