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Queen Mary Academy

Three-Minute Thesis

As a researcher, you will probably experience this conversation in some form or another: So, what do you work on?

The 3 Minute Thesis competition logoPerhaps with a relative you haven’t seen in years, who knows vaguely that you’ve been researching something, and that you’re going to be some kind of doctor. Or maybe it plays out when you meet a learned colleague from a related field at a conference; a potential collaborator and you each need to communicate your work’s raison d’être (and how your interests may align) in a relatively short time, like say, three minutes. This is your opportunity to develop this skill as a PhD student!

What the 3MT® competition is

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition is a research communication competition that was developed at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2008. Internationally growing since 2011, there are 3MT® competitions held at over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.

As the name implies, PhD students have just three minutes to tell a non-specialist audience about their research and results. They can show one static PowerPoint slide, and that’s basically it – find out more by reading the competition rules. The idea is to “crystallise” their research in such a way as to communicate its background, outline any salient hypotheses, and present major findings to anyone without trivialising or ‘dumbing’ anything down. A tall order, surely, when you have topics as diverse and complex as the human health, emerging mobile technologies or European history.

Queen Mary has run the 3MT® competition since 2014, with training running throughout the year and the final taking place in late May/early June.

The Queen Mary 3MT® winner goes on to compete against other PhD students from across the UK at the Vitae 3MT® semi-final. Six students are then selected to compete at the final, which takes place in September at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference.

Follow the links at the bottom of the page to see videos of the Queen Mary 2021 finalists and 2020 finalists.

Prizes in previous years

  • Queen Mary 3MT® competition: Vouchers of £150 (Winner), £100 (Runner-up), £50 (People's Choice Award).
  • Vitae 3MT® competition: grant of £3,000 (Winner) or £1000 (People's Choice Award) to spend on a public engagement activity. The competition is sponsored by Taylor & Francis and UKRI.

The 2022 QMUL 3MT® competition

The 2022 QMUL 3MT® Final took place in person and online on 13 June and we were joined by close to 150 doctoral students, staff, and family and friends of the seven finalists! The finalists were selected as the top entries from each of our Faculties after participating in the 3MT Faculty Heats in April.

The judges selected Hannah Cliff from the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film as the Queen Mary winner for her talk ‘The Streaming Wars: What is the future of French cinema?’. The Runner-up prize went to Christo Morison from the School of Mathematical Sciences for his talk ‘How mathematical models can help us track mutations in cancer’. The audience voted for the People's Choice Award, which went to Ibtehal Albursan from the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences for her talk 'Hijacking ubiquitin: a bacteria’s plan'.

Hannah will now go on to compete against PhD students from across the UK at the Vitae 3MT® quarter-final and will hopefully make it to the Vitae 3MT® final in September. Good luck, Hannah!

Watch our 2022 finalists

Hannah Cliff - Queen Mary winner

School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
The Streaming Wars: What is the future of French cinema?

Hannah's video will be published here after the Vitae 3MT® competition ends.

Christo Morison - Runner-up

School of Mathematical Sciences
How mathematical models can help us track mutations in cancer

Ibtehal Albursan - People's Choice Award

School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences
Hijacking ubiquitin: a bacteria's plan

Aaron Hughes

Blizard Institute
Understanding our skin’s barrier and how we can use this to prevent eczema

Hafiz Naderi

William Harvey Research Institute
The heart under pressure: how AI can help

Matthew Preece

Wolfson Institute of Population Health
How does aspirin reduce cancer risk?

Antoaneta Dimova

School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
Mental health advocacy on social media: a multimodal discourse analysis

Judges - Final

  • Sheila Gupta MBE, Vice-Principal (People, Culture and Inclusion)
  • Prof Janet De Wilde, Director of the Queen Mary Academy
  • Prof Tim Warner, Dean for Postgraduate Research and Director Doctoral College
  • Dr Linda Cremonesi, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Lecturer in Particle Physics
  • Dr Emma Sutton, Senior Research Fellow, History
  • Dr Joséphine Carpentier, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Barts Cancer Institute (2021 Queen Mary 3MT Runner-up)


Judges - Faculty Heats

  • Dr Anna Price, Head of Researcher Development, Queen Mary Academy
  • Dr Henry Giddens, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Science & Engineering
  • Dr Sydney Calkin, Senior Lecturer, Humanities & Social Sciences
  • Dr Theresa Tachie-Menson, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Medicine & Dentistry

For more information contact Dr Fryni Panayidou.

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