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3-Minute Thesis Competition for Research Postgraduate Students

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a competition for research students to develop and showcase their research communication skills through 3-minute presentations. This year, the final at HKUST will take place on 20 June.

What is 3MT® ?

Having originated at the University of Queensland in 2008, the 3MT® competition was gradually promoted to other universities in Australia, New Zealand and then around the world. It is now held as an annual competition in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries. In addition to 3MT® at individual universities, there are also regional competitions around the globe:

  • The Asia-Pacific 3MT for universities from across Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, North-East Asia and South-East Asia.
  • MENA 3MT for universities from 19 Middle East and North Africa regions (will commence soon)
  • U21 3MT for member universities of Universitas 21
  • Vitae 3MT for UK universities

As the name suggests, it challenges doctoral students to compress their research into an engaging 3-minute speech. The 3MT® event aims to:

  • cultivate PhD students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills; and
  • increase their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialists audience.

3MT® at HKUST – Final on 20 June 2022

3MT® competition at HKUST has been around since 2014. Due to the pandemic, 3MT was suspended in 2020 and the 2021 competition was switched to video recording presentation plus live Q&A via Zoom in 2021. The 2022 Final will take place online on 20 June 14:30-16:00. You can find the Zoom link to the event at

If the champion awardee is a PhD student, s/he will represent HKUST to compete at the 2022 Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT. Otherwise, the opportunity will go to the awardee who ranks the highest among all the PhD finalists.

Judging Criteria & Rules

3MT presentations will be evaluated based on set judging criteria related to the comprehension, content, engagement and communication. There are also several rules that participants should follow, such as:

  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum.
  • Only 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 to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).

Prepare Yourself with 3MT® Resources

The deadline for entering the 2022 3MT competition has passed, yet it is never too late to prepare yourself for the next round.

Whether you are a final year research student or only a few months into your PhD candidacy, 3MT competition is a good learning experience where you could hone your presentation skills and continue to further your research ideas along the PhD journey.

“My first impression of 3MT® was that it required you to trivialize your research so that people can understand it better. However, as a participant, I realized it’s definitely not the case. In fact, it helped me put in perspective three very important things: Why? What? How? A simple answer to these three questions is what 3MT® is all about, and that is what helped me realize the purpose of my PhD and helped me maintain focus all these years.”

– Usman Bin Shahid, Runner-up of HKUST 3MT 2019 & 2021, sharing on how 3MT benefitted him (Source).


For ideas and inspiration on how to develop your own, please see the below links for many examples of previous 3MT finalists from a broad range of disciplines:

– By Eunice Wong, Library

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published May 26, 2022