3 Minute Thesis


 An 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present

Their time limit…3 minutes

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a National competition for postgraduate research students, run by research organisation Vitae. 3MT® challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes. The first 3MT® was held at The University of Queensland in Australia in 2008, and has been nationwide in the UK by Vitae since 2014. More information about the history of 3MT® can be found on the Vitae and 3MT® websites.

This year our final will be held on Thursday 14 May 2020 at the Devon and Exeter Institution on the Cathedral green. 

Key Dates:

Entries open for the 2020 3 Minute Thesis: Monday 24 February 2020

Entries close for the 2020 3 Minute Thesis: Monday 6 April 2020

3 Minute Thesis Heats (Penryn): Wednesday 6 May 2020

3 Minute Thesis Heats (Streatham): Tuesday 12 May 2020

3 Minute Thesis Final: Thursday 14 May 2020

How to Apply

Registration for Three Minute Thesis 2020 will open on Monday 24 May 2020 and close on Monday 6 April 2020.

To apply to the 3 Minute Thesis competition please complete this online form.  

Three Minute Thesis Rules

Make sure you read the international 3MT® rules before applying:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, 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 movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Conditions of entry

All entrants must be a current ‘in progress’ doctoral postgraduate researchers at the University of Exeter – MRes students and students on interruption, are not eligible due to international rules.


Three Minute Thesis Judging Criteria

Comprehension and 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 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?

Judges to be announced soon. 

Our 2019 prize winners are as follows:

  • 1st Place – Jennifer Finlay (CLES) - Cleaning up salmon farming with lumpfish
  • 2nd Place – Hannah Meinertzhagen (CLES) - How does wind affect seabirds?
  • 3rd Place – Nina Van Volkinburg (UEBS) - Disruption to Destruction: The Effects of Digital Disruption on the Value Creation Processes within the Fashion Industry
  • People's Choice - Jennifer Finlay (CLES) - Cleaning up salmon farming with lumpfish

Jennifer Finlay went on to represent the University of Exeter in the National Semi-Finals.

Our 2018 prize winners were as follows:

  • 1st Place – Harriet Goodrich (CLES) – Using integrative physiology to optimise diets for sustainable aquaculture
  • 2nd Place – Joo Hou Ng (CLES)How willingness to adapt to British culture shapes international students’ experiences of, and performance within, different spaces on campus
  • 3rd Place – Anne Blancflower (SSIS) Kurdish cross-border, multi-party cooperation from the 1890s to the present

Harriet Goodrich went onto represent the University of Exeter in the National Semi-Finals.

Our 2017 prize winners were as follows:

Tim Gordon went on to represent the University of Exeter in the National Semi-Finals.

View our photos from the 2017 3 Minute Thesis competition here.  


Our 2016 prize winners were as follows:

Simon Dickinson went on to repsent the University of Exeter in the National Semi-Finals.