The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition at Keele

Can you tell us about your doctoral research in an inspiring and engaging way, using just one slide, in just 3 minutes?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition challenges you to present a compelling spoken presentation on your research topic to entertain and inform an academic, but non-specialist audience. Being able to present your research to an audience who knows little or nothing about your area of study is an important skill that all researchers need to develop. Taking part in the Three Minute Thesis competition will provide you with valuable experience of explaining your research and its significance in an accessible and engaging way. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia and its success has led to the establishment of local and national competitions in several countries.

The Keele University wide Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition will involve different schools/research institutes organising and hosting their own heats. There will also be a heat open to everyone at the Institute Postgraduate conference. Winners from the competition heats will go forward to the Keele University Final on June 18th at the KPA Bob Beatty Awards Evening to be held in the Salvin Room, Keele Hall. The overall Keele winner will go forward to the VITAE National competition where the finalist from each institution will take part in the Vitae hosted virtual semi-final. From here six finalists will then be selected to perform live at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference during the gala dinner in Birmingham on the 17th September 2018.

Competition Dates

Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences Postgraduate Conference Thursday April 19th 2018.

Faculty of Humanities Postgraduate Symposium Friday May 4th 2018 - for more information, please contact Ceri Morgan at

Faculty of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium Thursday May 10th 2018 - for more information, please contact Lisa Cartlidge at

Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine (ISTM) Symposium Tuesday 15th May 2018 at the North Staffordshire's Medical Institute - for more information, please contact Zara Richards at

Keele Three Minute Thesis Grand Final to be held at the Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year Awards Evening on Monday June 18th 2018.

Who can enter the competition?

All current doctoral researchers including Professional Doctorates candidates who have successfully passed their doctoral progression are eligible to enter. You may also enter if your thesis is under submission by the date of your first presentation.

How do I apply?

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the competition rules and judging criteria and have a look at some 3MT® presentations online. There are lots of examples from competitions in different universities and previous national finalists that can be viewed here.

Decide which competition you will enter, you may enter either the ILAS competition or your Faculty/research institute competition. Dates TBC.

To take part in the ILAS PG conference Three Minute Thesis competition on April 19th please register here. Registration involves submitting a title and abstract (150 words max) about your research that is aimed at a non-specialist audience. This will be included in the conference handbook and also in a special Conference edition of JADE.

The closing date for registration is Wednesday March 21st 2018 at 5.00pm.

3MT®Competition Rules

  • 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 (e.g. 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.

Support for the Three Minute Thesis

Three optional training sessions will be offered by the Academic Development with ILAS for those entering the 3MT competition who would like guided practice and feedback

  • Wednesday 6th December 2017, 10.00 - 11:30am
  • Thursday 18th January 2018, 2.00 - 3.30pm 
  • Wednesday 14th March 2018, 2.00 - 3.30pm

These sessions can be booked through Keele People and will all be held in the Sneyd Room at Keele Hall.

Judging criteria

The rules and the judging criteria for the 3MT has been established by the University of Queensland and apply across all areas of the competition.

Judging Criteria 2018

1. 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?


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?



Find out more about the Vitae 3MT Competition 2018 here

Three Minute Thesis Logo - Founded by University of Queensland, 1234x390