Three Minute Thesis Competition

The 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland for PhD and Research Masters 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.

Why should l take part?

Click on the video links below to watch our 3MT stars talk about why they entered 3MT and what happened when they did!

3MT Development Series: Workshops

Participating in your Faculty's 3MT Heat? Give your confidence and communication skills a boost with the Researcher Development Unit's 3MT Development Series. For more information, visit 3MT Development Series.


UNSW 3MT 2019 Prizes
  • First prize $3,000 plus entry into the 2018 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

  • People’s Choice prize $1,000

  • ASPIRE prize $500

ASPIRE is a UNSW widening participation program that works with school students to support their educational aspirations. This year at 3MT we will have some of the school students from this program as VIP guests, and they will be awarding a special ASPIRE Prize for the presentation they enjoy the most.

3MT - Eligibility, Rules and Judging Criteria


  • All active PhD candidates - from those who have passed their Confirmation review to those whose thesis is under examination - are eligible

  • Candidates must be on track for timely completion

  • Graduates are not eligible

  • Active Masters of Philosophy, Masters by Research and pre-confirmation PhD candidates are eligible to participate in the UNSW faculty heats BUT cannot advance to the UNSW Interfaculty Final.


  • 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.


Comprehension & 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 & 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?

Meet our 3MT 2019 Judges

Bill Manos


Bill Manos is an investor of Sydney Angels and owner of the private investment company, Manos Capital. Previously, Bill held a number of council roles including Deputy Lord Mayor, and Chair of the Planning and Finance Committees for Adelaide. Additionally, Bill was a judges associate, lawyer and founder of Manos Pair and West, and co-founder of Mancorp.

Robyn Williams







Robyn Williams is a science journalist and presenter of The Science Show and Ockham's Razor on ABC’s Radio National. A witty and engaging presenter, he has the ability to make science fascinating for almost anyone. He is equally prominent on television as narrator of such programs as Nature of Australia and Catalyst, and appeared on World Safari with David Attenborough. Robyn Williams is highly respected in the academic world. In 1993 he was the first journalist elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He has Honorary Doctorates in Science from NSW, Sydney, Macquarie and Deakin universities and a Doctorate of Law from ANU. He is a Visiting Professor at UNSW. Robyn was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary Honours list, named a National Living Treasure by the National Trust in 1997 and even has a star named after him by the Sydney Observatory. Robyn has served as President of the Australian Museum Trust, Chairman of the Commission for The Future, President of The ANZAAS Congress, Ambassador of the Queensland Museum Foundation and Deputy Chairman of the Australian Science Media Centre. Recently, NewSouth Press published Robyn's latest book, TURMOIL, letters from the brink.

Dr. Christine Evans








Dr. Christine Evans is a Wiradjuri woman with cultural connection to the Mudgee region of NSW. Her current role as Chief Education Officer, Aboriginal Education, at the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), follows 15 years of working at the University of Technology Sydney in visual arts education and Aboriginal education. Christine’s research focuses on Aboriginal voice in educational processes. Besides her work in the education sector, Christine is chair of the Indigenous Advisory Group of the Museum of Contemporary Art and an MCA Board member.


Dr. Niraj Lal








Dr. Niraj (Nij) Lal is a physicist, presenter and author who really digs science. His science videos with the ABC have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and his scientific publications have been cited more than 500 times. He currently works as a Science Presenter, Physics Consultant to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Exciton Science, Senior Manager of Solar Technology in the Victorian Government, Visiting Fellow at the ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, and Director of First Principles. In 2012 Niraj graduated as a Gates Scholar with a PhD in physics from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, and in 2016 he was named one of the ABC's Top 5 Scientists Under 40. He has appeared on telly a bunch of times, hosted ABC Sciencey, written two children's books about science, spoken as an invited speaker at international conferences and taught science at levels ranging from pre-school to post-graduate. In addition to science things, Niraj is the Founder and CEO of - a global wisdom-sharing website, for digital protest against mass surveillance, and has played sax and samba drums at events ranging from UK Music Festivals to the Sydney Mardi Gras. He lives in Melbourne with his partner Sally, and their two kids Ash and Ella. More info can be seen at his website


Carl Smith






Carl Smith is a Walkley Award-winning science reporter in the ABC's Science Unit. He makes radio documentaries for RN’s science programs, including the Science Show, the Health Report, and Science Friction. He writes and co-hosts the kids’ ethics podcast Short & Curly and the WNYC podcast Pickle. Carl worked briefly as a geneticist before joining the ABC as a News Cadet. He's also been a reporter on Behind the News, and he presented the ABC Education series Minibeast Heroes.


Tania Safi








Winner of the International United Nationals Plural+ Film Festival in 2014 and Best Use of Short Video 2016 for her video featuring First Nation's people discuss "Australia Day", Tania Safi has been creating film and video content for BuzzFeed News and Entertainment, the ABC and for international NGOs for years. From producing and filming content for Tasty to American-Palestinian rapper Mona Haydar's "Barbarian", Safi is now paving the way for the use of online content as journalism outreach for young generations, creating challenging and impactful videos that are relevant and internationally accessible. More recently she proudly hosted talks at MadFest in London on the power of film and was invited to speak at the United Nations 8th Global Forum in the New York Head Quarters on Video and Peacebuilding. Currently in development for a series and founder of Shway Shway, featuring change makers around the world, Safi is committed to responsible filmmaking and innovative ways to tell stories. In the last five years filming demands have seen her work and live across Australia, America, Europe, Lebanon and the UK.

2019 UNSW 3MT Final Winners


Congratulations to all of our 2019 contestants on their wonderful presentations!

Watch a clip about 3MT on UNSWTV and see pictures on the GRS facebook page.

  • First Prize: John Kokkinos, Igniting a Civil War within the Fortress of Pancreatic Cancer

  • Runner-Up: Georgina Carson, Computers of the future: Using tiny particles to solve big problems

  • Third Prize and People's Choice: Liam Cheney, Where did my cholera come from?

  • ASPIRE Prize: Simon Lloyd, Reclaiming urban rivers: is it clean enough to swim?



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