Page content

An 80,000 word PhD thesis would take 9 hours to present.  Your time limit... 3 minutes!

The Doctoral College is delighted to announce that Ulster University will be running the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition for the the second time in May 2019.  3MT® was first developed by the University of Queensland, and is now a global initiative with up to 77 UK universities taking part in the Vitae 2018 3MT® national competition. Last year, the 3MT Winner at Ulster was Temilola Olanrewaju who made it through to the last 12 semi-finalists out of 77 UK universities!

3MT® is an academic competition that challenges PhD Researchers to describe their research and its significance, in non-specialist language to a general audience, in just three minutes.  Participation in the competition helps PhD researchers to build their confidence and hone their presentation and communication skills.  It is also a great way for others to find out about the exciting and varied research going on across the University at doctoral level.

The Registration Form from PhD Researchers who would like to participate in this year's Ulster University 3MT® competition is now online. The deadline for completion of Registration Forms has been extended to 17 April 2019.

The prize for the overall winner is £750 with prizes for the runner up and all finalists, as well as a People’s Choice Award.

Participants will compete in campus-based competitions during May for a place in the Ulster University 3MT Final on 30 May 2019 hosted at the Belfast campus. The overall winner of the Ulster competition will then go through to the semi-final of the 2019 Vitae 3MT national competition (online).


The key competition dates
Competition DetailsDatesVenue
Registration Form Deadline (extended) 17 April 2019 Online

Initial Heat: Jordanstown and Belfast PhD Researchers

1 May 2019, 1pm

Jordanstown campus

Initial Heat: Coleraine PhD Researchers

2 May 2019, 1pm

Coleraine campus

Initial Heat: Magee PhD Researchers

3 May 2019, 12pm Magee campus

Campus Semi-Final: Coleraine and Magee PhD Researchers

16 May 2019, 12pm

Coleraine campus

Campus Semi-Final: Jordanstown and Belfast PhD Researchers

17 May 2019, 12pm Jordanstown campus

Ulster 3MT® Final - (filmed)

30 May 2019, 5.30pm

Conor Lecture Theatre, Belfast campus

Semi Final of National 3MT Competition (video to be submitted by 5 July, held online)

Winner announced in mid-August

from 8 July 2019


Final of Vitae 2019 3MT National Competition

16 September 2019

Vitae Conference, Birmingham

Why enter?

Entering our 3MT® competition is a great way to improve your public speaking skills, engage funders and access networking opportunities.


  • Winner of Ulster 3MT: £750
  • Runner Up: £250
  • Finalists: £50 Amazon Voucher
  • The People’s Choice Award: Trophy

How we will help you

The Doctoral College will offer support to 3MT® entrants.  This includes the workshop on Communicating Your Research to a Non-Research Audience (offered as part of your Researcher Development Programme) This will help you get started with planning and developing your 3MT® presentation.

Further support will be available for the Finalists and the winner who will progressing to entry in the Vitae national 3MT® competition.

Please also visit the 3MT Competitor Guide at:


Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their Confirmation of Registration assessment, i,e. at the end of first year (or part time equivalent) (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in the 3MT competition.

If you are competing, or thinking of competing this year, please check out the full competition details, including rules and judging criteria.

Competition Rules

  • 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 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 either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging criteria

Comprehension and 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?

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?

Further details and Useful Resources

Last year’s finalists of the UK national 3MT competition: