The annual three minute thesis competition pitches research higher degree students against each other to present their research in just three minutes.

Three minute thesis competition

For the fifth year running, the UoN three minute thesis final attracted a high standard of research student presentations, which impressed the 170-strong audience of staff and students. Each of the 18 finalists had just three minutes to explain their research to an intelligent but non-specialist audience on Wednesday 23 July 2014. The subject matter was an interesting mix from biodiesel waste to women on company boards.3 minute thesis logo

This year the judging panel consisted of Newcastle Councillor Ms Nuatali Nelmes, founder of Slingshot Mr Trent Bagnall and CEO of HunterNet Mr Tony Cade.

The top three positions went to:

First Prize: $1,500, plus accommodation and transport to represent UoN at the National/Trans-Tasman competition at the University of Western Australia on 3 November 2014.

Mr Gary Crowfoot, PhD (Nursing) - The influence of healthcare pathways upon the outcomes and experiences of people with TIA

Second Prize: $1,000

Mr Lee Ashton, PhD (Nutrition & Dietetics) - Can young men change their lifestyle? A novel way to improve health

Third Prize: $500

Ms Akshaya Kamalnath, PhD (Law) - Will more women on company boards lead to less risky decision-making?

Highly Commended:

Emad Benhalal, PhD (Chemical Engineering) - Mineral Carbonation: Permanent CO2 Storage in Brick

Medhi Taherishargh, PhD (Mechanical Engineering) - Fabrication and Mechanical Properties of Advanced Lightweight Materials

All UoN finalists received a gift voucher from the Co-op bookshop, the 2014 official sponsor.

Coop logo

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

Complete the Registration Form and return it to your research training officer.

  • 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.

Each Faculty will hold heats, with the winners proceeding on to the UoN final, which will be held at 10am Wednesday 23 July 2014 in the Richardson Wing Nursing Theatre, RW149. The winner of the UoN final will then move on to compete in the National/Trans-Tasman competition at the University of Western Australia on 3 November 2014.

Heat and Faculty finals dates are as follows:

Faculty of Business and Law:

Faculty Final: Thursday 22 May 2014, 11am in the Oasis Room (SR202)

Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment:

Faculty Final: Friday 30 May 2014, 9:30am in ATC210

Faculty of Science and Information Technology:

Faculty Final: Friday 13 June 2014, 9:30am in the Life Sciences Theatre

Faculty of Health and Medicine:

Faculty Final: Friday 20 June 2014, 10am in ATC210

Faculty of Education and Arts:

School of Education Heat – Thursday 12 June, 10am-11.30am in HA96

School of Humanities and Social Science Heat – Tuesday 17 June, 10am in W301A

School of Creative Arts Heat – Tuesday 17 June, 2pm in UNH241

Faculty Final: Thursday 26 June 2014, 10am in W301A

NUPSA and Helen Thursby from Learning Development have got together to organise training workshops to help you prepare.

There will be two preparation workshops followed by a practice session where you get to present your 3 Minute Thesis in front of an audience and receive feedback.

These session have been popular in the past and have proven successful for the participants.

The workshops have been broken down into two groups and line up with the finals for each faculty.

Group 1 (Business & Law and Engineering & Built Environment)

April 17 Clubs & Societies Room (under Bar on the Hill) 3pm – 5pm

May 8 Clubs & Societies Room 3pm – 5pm

Practice Session May 15 Room TBA 2pm -5pm

Group 2 (Science & IT, Health & Medicine, Education & Arts)

May 22 Clubs & Societies Room (under Bar on the Hill) 3pm – 5pm

May 29 Clubs & Societies Room 3pm – 5pm

Practice Session June 5 Room TBA 2pm -5pm

Register for a workshop

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

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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