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.

  • 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

  • Presentation provided clear background and significance to the research question;

  • Presentation clearly described the research strategy/ design and the results/findings of the research; and

  • Presentation clearly described the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research

Engagement and Communication

  • The oration was delivered clearly, and the language was appropriate for a non-specialist audience;

  • The PowerPoint slide was well-defined and enhanced the presentation; and

  • The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention.


2021 UNSW 3MT Judges

Robyn Williams

Robyn Williams

Science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams presents ABC Radio National’s The Science Show (since 1975) and Ockham’s Razor. He has conducted countless interviews with scientists on ABC TV on programs such as Quantum and Catalyst, narrated the Nature of Australia series and appeared in World Safari with David Attenborough.

Outside the ABC, Robyn has served in various capacities, including president of the Australian Museum Trust, chairman of the Commission for the Future, and president of the Australian Science Communicators. In 1997, he was proclaimed a National Living Treasure.

In 1993, Robyn was the first journalist elected as a Fellow Member of the Australian Academy of Science. He was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary honours list, then AO in this year’s honours. He has seven honorary doctorates from Australian universities,

He is deputy chair of the Australian Science Media Centre.

Robyn has written more than 10 books, the latest being TURMOIL, Letters from the Brink (2019).

Sarah Pearce

Sarah Pearce

Dr Sarah Pearce has been with CSIRO for 10 years as the Deputy Director of CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science.

She became the third female Chief Scientist of CSIRO in January 2021.

After completing her PhD in Physics, Dr Pearce was a senior science advisor in the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, where she gained an understanding of how science can come together with policy to create impact.

At CSIRO, Dr Pearce led engagement in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and was Australia’s science representative on the negotiating team for the SKA Treaty.

In 2020, she was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, was named NSW Business Woman of the Year, and Executive of the Year at the 2020 Australian Space Awards.

She is a Superstar of STEM and an advocate for women in science and technology.

Liza Mare Syron

Liza-Mare Syron

Dr Liza-Mare Syron has family ties to the Biripi people from the Mid North Coast of NSW. She is a director, actor, teacher, dramaturge and an award winning academic.

Liza-Mare is currently an Indigenous Scientia Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media at UNSW. She is widely published in the field of Indigenous performing arts, and her current research project focuses on the role of theatre in the revitalisation of native languages. She is a founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, and as a key member of the company’s Artistic Directorate for over ten years has recently been appointed Senior Artistic Associate. Her work history includes; Indigenous Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Senior Aboriginal Cultural Development Officer for Arts NSW, and Head of Theatre Performance at the Eora College for Aboriginal Studies, Centre for Visual and Performing Arts in Redfern.


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 Monday, 5 July

Engineering Friday, 2 July

Law Wednesday, 23 June

Medicine Thursday, 8 July

Science Wednesday, 7 July

UNSW Canberra Wednesday, 23 June

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