Three Minute Thesis

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. JCU has a proud history of participating in the event.

Communicating your research simply and directly in ways that a wide range of non-experts can understand is increasingly understood as being intrinsic to research practice. Successful communication involves a lot more than mere dissemination of results but a thoughtful engagement with potential research users and audiences.

JCU will again participate in the 3MT in 2020. The winner of the 3MT competition's HDR category represents JCU in the Asia-Pacific 3MT final.

JCU 3MT Final - 9 September 2020

Winner & People's Choice Award - Judith Rafferty
Runner Up - Rebecca Webb

2020 Event


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students, and cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.

At JCU, we think it is really important to encourage and showcase the research efforts of our higher degree research (HDR) candidates.

In 2020, the JCU 3MT Competition will be very different to previous years.  This year, the JCU 3MT Competition will be held as a live online event.  Rather than present live to an audience, our 3MT competitors will be submitting their presentation which has been recorded in video format.

Apart from this major difference, all the other elements that make the JCU 3MT competition great will still be there, including a great event host, an eminent judging panel, people’s choice voting and of course prize money!

More details about the event will be made available as they are finalised, so please check back here regularly for updates.

Happy creating!

Active PhD and Professional Doctorate Research (program composed of at least 2/3 research and eligible for RTP) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first virtual presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.

Please note: Students enrolled in any of the following programs are not eligible to enter the Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition:

  • Masters (MPhil and coursework); and
  • Professional Doctorate (coursework).

HDR candidates:

  • Four required from each Academic Division - DTHM (4) and DTES (4)
  • One from JCU Singapore
  • One from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

AIMS@JCU students are eligible to participate as an entrant via their affiliated college

Each area putting forward participants for the JCU Final may do so by nomination, or by College / Divisional heats.

  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
  • Videos must meet the following criteria:
    Filmed on the horizontal;
    Filmed on a plain background;
    Filmed from a static position;
    Filmed from one camera angle;
    Contain a 3MT title slide (at beginning);
    Contain a 3MT PowerPoint slide (top right corner/right side/cut to)
  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute.
  • The 3 minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Submissions via video format (only video link provided to Event Coordinators).
  • Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.
  • Entries submitted for final adjudication to Wildcard or University Final are to be submitted from the School/ Faculty/Institute 3MT Event Coordinator. Competitors should not submit their videos directly to 3MT.

Please note:

  • Competitors *will not* be judged on video/ recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.
  • After each competition round competitors have the option to either submit their current presentation or rerecord and submit a new presentation for entry into the next round.

See the 3MT Virtual Competitor Guides for more information on how to prepare for your presentation.

Download the PDF Virtual 3MT Handbook.

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

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?

Professor Chris Rudd OBE

Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Singapore

Chris Rudd is the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of Campus, Singapore for James Cook University. Chris is responsible to the JCUS board for the strategic leadership of the Singapore campus of James Cook University and is a member of the JCU Executive Board.

Prior to joining James Cook University, Chris was Provost and CEO of University of Nottingham, Ningbo China (2015-19) where he led a campus of 8,000 students and over 900 staff, delivering UK degree programmes in China's first sino-foreign University and building a series of new research institutes in China to connect with local and international industry. His previous UK roles include Pro-Vice Chancellor for External Engagement (2007-15), leading on business engagement and philanthropic fundraising and Dean of Nottingham's Engineering Faculty (2003-7). Chris was a board director of the China-Britain Business Council from 2011-17.

Chris is an active researcher and holds grants and contracts with several international organisations for his research in engineering materials and lightweight structures. His team have contributed to the introduction of new materials and processes in the automotive, aerospace and medical devices industries. He has successfully supervised more than 60 PhD projects and has published >175 journal articles with around 6500 citations and an H index of 43.

Donnella Mills

Director of Wuchopperen Health Service, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community

Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. She is a Director of Wuchopperen Health Service, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – NACCHO and member of James Cook University Council.  She is a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community.

Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership. This innovative HJP is an exciting model of care providing access to justice in a community controlled setting, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to achieve improved health, social, emotional and spiritual well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mr Bradley Smith

Former Manager, Research Strategy & Performance, James Cook University

Bradley Smith was Manager of Research Strategy and Performance in the Division of Research and Innovation at JCU from 2010 to his retirement in July 2019.  Prior to moving to tropical North Queensland, he worked at the interface of policy, politics and advocacy in higher education and research.  He was the Executive Director of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS – now called Science Technology Australia) between 2003 – 2009; a higher education, science and R&D advisor for Senator Natasha Stott Despoja and President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA).

Mr Pat Hession

ABC North Queensland

Having lived and worked all over Queensland, Pat is known for seeking out interesting people and enabling them to tell their story with both an entertaining and informative style, keeping audience needs at the centre of the process.  Pat says the first step to understand the subject matter, and then to present it in an accessible manner so that people with no prior knowledge can become involved in the discussion.

Pat first started in community radio and TV before moving into commercial radio in 1998. Since 2004 he has been at the ABC, working initially as a radio presenter with ABC Western Queensland in Longreach, then ABC Tropical North in Mackay, and presenting the Drive program at ABC North Queensland for 10 years.  After two years presenting the 9:00am – 11:00am Morning Program, now Pat isn’t heard as often on the radio having taken on a new challenge as an Emergency Broadcast Lead, which involves working with ABC teams around the country to coordinate and plan the ABC’s coverage during emergencies.  In addition, Pat is often called upon to present statewide programs and to assist in other regions during emergency broadcasts, as well as hosting events such as the Queensland Governor’s Australia Day Flag Raising Ceremony and the Anzac Day parade on the Strand.

Ms Meredith Wenta

Principal, Kirwan State High School

Meredith Wenta was appointed Executive Principal at Kirwan High School in 2015 and was Principal for 4 years and Deputy Principal for the previous 13 years.  Kirwan High is a large, complex, service driven, organization with a diverse student population and a strong improvement culture.

Meredith has had an extensive teaching career in the Primary and Secondary sectors.  She began her career as a Primary School teacher, working mostly in the middle phase. Meredith then spent a number of years working as an English and Drama teacher, teaching students in Year 8 through to Year 12.  During this time she took on the roles of Year Coordinator and Head of Department. She also directed a number of school musicals.

As the Executive Principal, Meredith maintains a strong commitment to curriculum leadership  and has been instrumental in establishing the culture of high performance which focuses on high expectations for students’ academic and wellbeing outcomes.  She is passionate about ensuring that all students are provided with an education that prepares them to be successful global citizens.

14 August 2020CPHMVS 3MT Competition
19 August 2020CMD 3MT Competition
19 August 2020ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies 3MT Competition
19 August 2020CSE 3MT Competition
25 August 2020CHS 3MT Competition
27 August 2020CBLG 3MT Competition
27 August 2020CASE 3MT Competition
28 August 2020JCU Singapore 3MT Final
COB 1 September 2020

Deadline to provide the Graduate Research School with your entrant's details:

  • Name
  • Division/College/Institution
  • Thesis/Research title
  • 3MT Oral presentation Link
  • 3MT PowerPoint (one slide only) – winner will also need to provide a wide screen format to UQ)
  • Passport size photo (good quality)
  • Mobile/other phone number
  • Consent and release deed
  • Email contact
3 September 2020Entries Judged
9 September 2020
11am AEST (9am Singapore)
JCU 3MT Final
11 September 2020Winner details provided to UQ for Asia Pacific Final
1 October 20203MT Asia Pacific competition

To provide just a little incentive, JCU will award the winners with the following prizes:

  • 3MT Winner: $1,000
  • 3MT Runner Up: $500
  • 3MT People’s Choice: $500

The GRS offers coaching sessions to help HDR candidates create the sort of presentation that will make a good impression on 3MT judges. Sessions are conducted by Associate Professor Liz Tynan from the GRS, an experienced 3MT coach. Learn about the particular requirements of the 3MT competition, some of which may move researchers out of their 'comfort zone'. This year, the sessions will be conducted by Zoom, and there is a strict limit of 10 participants per session. The emphasis in these sessions will be on practical advice to achieve a polished and clear presentation.

Presented by Associate Professor Liz Tynan, Co-ordinator GRS Professional Development, Graduate Research School

  • Wednesday 29 July at 10am-11.30am AEST
  • Wednesday 29 July at 2pm-3.30pm AEST
  • Thursday 30 July at 10am-11.30 AEST

Register via CareerHub.

The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 Research Higher Degree students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010.

Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.

In November 2013, the first Universitas 21 (U21) 3MT competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition.

2016 brought an expansion of the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition to include a South-East Asia and North-East Asia. This competition is now called the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition.

2019 Event

In 2019, 3MT highlighted the innovative research conducted by Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates and early career researchers (ECRs).

The final was held on 5 September at The Science Place in Townsville and video-conferenced to Cairns and Singapore. The audience enjoyed nine 3MT presentations and the overall winner of Visualise Your Thesis.

Alexandre Siqueira (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)  for ‘A Tale of Fish T(h)rees’. Alexandre will be representing JCU at the Asia-Pacific Final in Brisbane on 4 October.

Rebecca Webb (CPHMVS) for ‘It Isn't Easy Being Green’

Kevin Crook (CSE) for 'Assessing the functional roles of batoids in coastal sandflats'.

Visualise your Thesis is a national competition for HDR candidates hosted by the University of Melbourne. Entrants must use a common PowerPoint template and AV material limited to 60 seconds.