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 MPhil research;
  • Map the experience as PhD and MPhil progress/skills development.

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

The competition is open to all research higher degree students enrolled in Masters or PhD programs.

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, the slide is to be displayed from the beginning of the oration)
  • no additional electronic media (eg sound and video files)
  • no additional props (eg costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment)
  • presentations are limited to three minutes maximum
  • competitors exceeding three minutes will be disqualified
  • presentations are to be spoken word (eg no poems, raps or songs)
  • presentations are to start from the stage
  • 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:
    • 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?
  2. Engagement:
    • 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?
  3. Communication style:
    • 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 speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
    • 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?
    • 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 winner of the UoN final will then move on to compete in the National/Trans-Tasman competition at the University of Queensland on 2 October 2015.

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, plus return airfare and accommodation to represent UoN in the National/Trans-Tasman competition at the University of Queensland on 2 October 2015.

Second Prize - $1000

Third Prize - $500

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.

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