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Entries now open for the HH Three minute thesis competition!

Three minute thesis

 Go! 3…..2…..1….

The Hughes Hall 3MT competition is a unique opportunity for research students of all stages to explain the significance of their research to a broad audience, all in only 3 minutes. “… do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few” – Pythagoras of Samos, 582 BC – c. 496 BC

  • Improve your presentation and communication skills
  • Gain experience talking to broad audiences
  • Build confidence in expressing your ideas in a compelling way
  • Showcase your work amongst peers, the Hughes Hall community, friends and family

If you are looking to improve your presentation and communication skills, register your interest by 4th March 2022. If you would like to attend and support those taking part in the competition, click here.

Prizes and Dates


If the wealth of experience you’ll gain and the opportunity to raise the visibility of your research isn’t enough, there are also prizes to be won! Prizes will be £100 for the winners (PhD and MPhil categories) and £50 for the People’s poll.

Key dates 

  • Register your interest by emailing a title and a short abstract (max 100 words)  – Friday 4th March 2022
  • Submit your title and slide – Friday 4th March (by 5.00 pm)
  • Optional (online) practice session – Thursday 10th March ( 5.00 pm )
  • 3MT Competition (Pavilion Rm) – Monday 14th March, 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm

How to enter?

Sign up for the 3MT event by emailing a title and a short abstract to hughes-3mt@lists.cam.ac.uk. Deadline: 4th March.

Need help?

We would like this competition to be accessible and enjoyable for all students. If you would like help, support or advice on your presentation or communication skills, email us. To those who apply to present, the optional virtual practice session (via zoom) will enable you to gain feedback from senior members giving you the best possible chance of walking away with a prize at the end of the night.

Rules, eligibility, and judging criteria


  • This competition is open to ALL students at Hughes Hall.


  • 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.

3MT Judging Criteria

The 3MT is judged on two main areas; comprehension and content, and engagement and communication. Consider the following when preparing your presentation …

Comprehension & Content

  1. Does the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  2. Does the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  3. Does the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  4. Is the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes being communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?

Don’t forget to:

5.  Avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points

6. Spend adequate time on each element of your presentation

Engagement & Communication

  1. Make the audience want to know more
  2. Be careful not to trivialise or generalise your research
  3. Convey enthusiasm for your research
  4. Work on having sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance
  5. Make sure the PowerPoint slide is clear, legible, and concise


First developed by the University of Queensland, the Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition that offers research students an opportunity to convey the relevance and importance of their research to a non-specialised audience in three minutes or under. 3MT highlights the importance of communication skills as researchers develop the capacity to effectively engage a non-specialist audience.

The first 3MT was held at the University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 research students competing. As the enthusiasm for this competition grew, the 3MT was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand Universities and from its humble beginnings it is now a global competition with over 200 universities across the world running 3MT competitions, including universities in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Vietnam and many more.

3MT experience from previous competitors

“It is so important to be able to communicate your research in a concise and understandable way. That is why I highly recommend the 3MT competition.”
 James, 2nd year PhD student

“The 3MT is great in getting you to cut out the waffle and stick to the most important bits of your research. It helped me make my work accessible to an audience that was unfamiliar with my research area, something that’s really useful for a career in science.”
Luca, 2nd year PhD student

3MT at Hughes Hall

Unlike other universities, the Hughes Hall Three Minute Thesis is open to students of all stages, undergraduate, masters and PhD. The inaugural 3MT at Hughes Hall was held in 2016 and has helped dozens of students take the opportunity to challenge themselves to showcase their research while developing their communication skills to the Hughes Hall community.