The annual three minute thesis competition pitches PhD and Research Masters students against each other to present their research in just three minutes.

Three minute thesis competition

Can you explain your thesis in just three minutes?

The Three Minute Thesis Competition supports the development of research students' capacity to communicate ideas effectively to a range of non-specialist audiences and to the wider community.

Participants commonly report the experience helped them:

  • 'Crystallize' thoughts about their thesis and how they communicate their research;
  • Improve presentation skills;
  • Promote internally and externally the value of PhD and M Phil research;
  • Map the experience as PhD and M Phil progress/skills development.

This competition is thoroughly enjoyable for all and generates public and media interest in what researchers do.

Active PhD students who have successfully confirmed in their program by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition.

M Phil and pre-confirmation PhD students who are active in their program will still be eligible to participate in the UON 3MT competition up to the UON 3MT Final, but cannot advance to the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition.

To participate in this year's Three Minute Thesis, please complete the 2015 registration form and submit to your Faculty Research Training Officer.

Registration Form 2015 (PDF, 215KB)

  • 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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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.

You will be judged by a panel of three non-specialists on the following criteria:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

The judges will score each competitor out of ten for each criterion.

The following faculty/school heats have been scheduled:

Business and Law

5 June 2015

Education and Arts

School of Education Heat

School of Humanities and Social Science Heat

School of Creative Arts Heat

Faculty Final


1 May 2015

19 May 2015

15 June 2015

26 June 2015

Engineering and Built Environment

9 July 2015

Health and Medicine

19 June 2015

Science and IT

3 July 2015

The winners from each faculty will proceed to the UON final, which will be held at 10am Wednesday 15 July 2015 in the Computing and Information Sciences Building, CT202.

All staff, students and members of the public are welcome to watch the UON final.

The highest ranked student who is a confirmed PhD candidate wins the opportunity to represent UON at the National Trans-Tasman final at University of Queensland in October.

The National/Trans-Tasman prizes will be awarded as research travel grants, with the winner being awarded $5,000, the runner-up $2,000 and the people's choice recipient $1,000.

For further detail on the Trans-Tasman competition, please see Three Minute Thesis Trans-Tasman Competition

NUPSA have arranged preparation sessions and presentation practice to assist interested students. To attend these sessions you will need to register at

Students from the Faculty of Business and Law and School of Education, please refer to the following information sheet for scheduled dates and venues:

NUPSA 3 minute thesis A (PDF, 6.5MB)

Students from the Faculty of Health, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Faculty of Science and IT and the Schools of Creative Arts and Humanities and Social Science, please refer to the following information sheet for scheduled dates and venues:

NUPSA 3 minute thesis B (PDF, 212KB)

Learning Development officers have previously held training sessions to help participants prepare. Below are the PowerPoint slides from these sessions.

First Prize - $1500

Second Prize - $1000

Third Prize - $500

The highest ranked student who is a confirmed PhD candidate wins the opportunity to represent UON at the National Trans-Tasman final at University of Queensland in October.

Each competitor in the UON final will receive a voucher from the Co-op bookshop.

Coop logo

2014 Finalists

1st place - Gary Crowfoot

PhD (Nursing)

The influence of healthcare pathways upon the outcomes and experiences of people with TIA

2nd place - Lee Ashton

PhD (Nutrition & Dietetics)

Can young men change their lifestyle? A novel way to improve health

3rd place - Akshaya Kamalnath

PhD (Law)

Will more women on company boards lead to less risky decision-making?

If you would like to view more Three Minute Thesis Finalists these are available on the University of Newcastle's YouTube page.

For more information on the competition please see our Three Minute Thesis webpage.

Top ▲