Three Minute Thesis

Heriot-Watt Universty Final Thursday 2 April 2020

Booking opening soon

3 Minute Thesis (3MT) is an exciting global academic competition celebrating the innovative research undertaken by PhD students, which was originally developed by the University of Queensland, Australia. 3MT participants present their research to a non-specialist audience in just 3 minutes using one slide, developing students’ academic, presentation and communication skills.

How do I take part?

Applications for 2020 are now closed

Why take part in 3 Minute Thesis at Heriot-Watt University?

The ability to communicate the importance of your research project and articulate your findings is extremely valuable. The 3 Minute Thesis competition provides you with the opportunity to:

  • Communicate your ideas effectively to a wider community
  • Describe your research findings to a non-specialist audience
  • Crystallise your thoughts about your thesis
  • Increase your profile within the research community at Heriot-Watt University
  • Network with other PGR students
  • Develop your transferable skills to enhance your personal effectiveness in line with the Researcher Development Framework (Domain B – Personal effectiveness, Domain D – Engagement, influence and impact)


  • You must be a current PGR student at Heriot-Watt University and be at least 18 months into your studies. Students who have submitted their thesis but who will not have had their viva by 2 April 2020 are eligible
  • Previous 3 Minute Thesis participants are ineligible to take part in subsequent 3 Minute Thesis competitions
  • Students based at Edinburgh and Galashiels campuses must be available for the Heriot-Watt University 3 Minute Thesis Final on 2 April 2020
  • Students based at the Orkney and Dubai campuses should record their presentation in front of a live audience and submit the recording by 25 March 2020
  • You must agree to your presentation being recorded
  • If you win the Heriot-Watt University competition (UK and Dubai based students only), your recorded presentation will be submitted to the online Vitae 3 Minute Thesis semi-final

3MT Handbook

Click the handbook link to download the HWU 3MT Participant Handbook for 2020

Important dates 2020

11 December 2019 - 3 Minute Thesis Info session (1 hour)

This information session will give further information on the 3 Minute Thesis competition, including who is eligible to take part, the rules and judging criteria, tips on how to prepare your presentation, training available, and Q&A. Book on PDMS.

31 January 2020 – Deadline for applications to be received

If you would like to be considered for a place on the 3 Minute Thesis Competition, please complete and submit this form by 12.00 noon on the 31 January 2020. Applications will be assessed by a senior panel and 18 students will be selected to compete in the 2020 competition.

3 March 2020 – Designing effective slides WEBINAR

This webinar is designed to improve your slide design to make your slides more visually appealing and useful to your audience. Using the acronym SWIPE, this webinar will discuss how its component parts can be used to help us design clean, simple slides that will serve as great visual aids. Open to all PGR students, and will help in preparation for the 3 Minute Thesis competition as well as preparation for conference presentations.

16 March 2020 - Voice coaching

This workshop is designed to improve research communication in preparation for the 3 Minute Thesis competition and as such it will be particularly relevant for students who have successfully applied to take part in the HWU 3 Minute Thesis competition.

By the end of this workshop, participants will have had a practical induction to effectively improving and enhancing your voice skill in preparation for the 3 Minute Thesis competition. Topics covered in this workshop are: how to engage audiences, best practice in research communication, effective story telling, the building blocks of communications, making complex subjects simple, and speech and voice coaching.

Training will be available for all campus locations were students are taking part in 3 Minute Thesis.

25 March 2020 - Peer practice session (Edinburgh campus)

This session will give you an opportunity to practice your 3 Minute Thesis presentation with your peers and give feedback to each other. Please note – this is not a facilitated session and you will not receive formal feedback, however Research Futures Academy staff will be present to coordinate the session and to answer any queries.

Other campuses and timings tbc

2 April 2020 – Heriot-Watt University final competition

The Heriot-Watt University 3 Minute Thesis competition will be open to staff and students to attend, and will embed our four University values: belong, collaborate, inspire and celebrate. Registration will be available on PDMS early 2020.

There will be prizes available for the Winner (£800), Runner-up (£400) and People’s Choice Winner (£400).

July 2020 – Vitae semi-final (online)

Video entry will be submitted from the overall winner from Heriot-Watt University to the Vitae 3 Minute Thesis Competition. More information can be found here.

September 2020 – Vitae final

The 6 top contestants selected from the Vitae semi-final will compete in person at the Vitae conference in Birmingham.

Contact for more information.