How the competition works

Read up on competition structure, eligibility, terms and conditions and rules.

Three Minute Thesis 2022

Thinking about taking part in 3MT this year? Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

Competition structure

Faculty and Open Heats

The University of Auckland competition is structured in heats: faculty heats and an Open Heat for students without a faculty heat. Any students who are registered as off-campus students (and therefore cannot attend their faculty heat) may also attend the Open Heat.

Each heat will put forward a Masters and a Doctoral winner to go through and compete in the University of Auckland Final. Heats that have large numbers of competitors may enter both the winner and runner-up into the University of Auckland Final.

University of Auckland Final

At the Final, heat winners will battle it out for the following awards:

  • Doctoral category winner
  • Doctoral category runner-up
  • Masters category winner
  • Masters category runner-up
  • People's Choice

Competition winners

Doctoral winner: Goes on to compete in the U21 3MT® online competition and the Asia-Pacific Final Competition run by the University of Queensland.
Masters winner: Goes on to compete in the Masters Inter-University Challenge.


Entries are open to currently enrolled research masters students and doctoral candidates who fulfil the following criteria:

  • Masters students must be currently enrolled in a programme which includes a research project of 90 points or more;
  • Doctoral candidates must be confirmed in their programme (i.e. have passed their confirmation review) by the date of their heat;
  • Doctoral candidates and research masters whose theses are under examination by the date of their first presentation are eligible to compete.

Please note that graduates are not eligible to enter the competition.

Faculty and Open Heats

  • On-campus participants must compete in the heat organised by their faculty. Participants with no faculty heat may join the Open Heat.
  • Participants who are registered as off-campus students may also join the Open Heat (which is taking place online).
  • Cross-faculty entrants must compete in the heat organised by the faculty of their main supervisor. If there is no faculty heat then they may compete in the Open Heat competition.
  • The Open Heat, which takes place online, is open to eligible doctoral candidates and masters students who do not have a faculty heat, or those who are based off-campus. Other exceptions may be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Entry terms and conditions

  • Finalists will be required to agree to media exposure for their presentation and research.
  • The doctoral winner will compete in the U21 3MT® online competition and the Asia-Pacific 3MT® competition run by the University of Queensland, Australia. If the candidate is unavailable during that time, the runner-up may be invited to represent the University instead.
  • The masters winner will compete in the Masters 3MT® Inter-University Challenge. If the candidate is  unavailable to compete, the runner-up may be invited to represent the University instead.
  • Entrants accept that the Final may be filmed and available to view on the University of Auckland YouTube channel and University social media sites.
  • Entrants accept that their videos may be used for educational purposes such as in training and workshops.


  • 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) is permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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.
  • Competition heats may select a maximum of one [1] winner and one [1] runner-up from the doctoral category AND one [1] winner and one [1] runner-up from the masters category. An additional winner may be allowed for heats with over 15 participants in a single category. A draw is not permitted.
  • Heat winners are automatically entered into the University's Three Minute Thesis Final. If the heat winner is unable to take part in the Final, a runner-up may take their place provided that (1) the runner-up competed in the same category as the winner (doctoral or masters) and (2) the runner-up was named as such during the heat.
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.

Please note: If the competition is moved online, competitors will not be judged on video/recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.