How the 3MT competition works

Read up on the judging criteria and competition rules.

Competition structure

  • The University of Auckland 3MT competition is structured in heats: Faculty Heats and an online Open Heat.
  • Each heat will put forward a winner to go through and compete in the University of Auckland 3MT Final. 
  • At the  University of Auckland 3MT Final, heat winners will compete for the following awards: Winner; Runner-up; and People's Choice.
  • Faculty Heats may select a maximum of one one winner and one runner-up. An additional winner may be allowed for heats with over 15 participants. A draw is not permitted.
  • Faculty Heat and Open Heat winners are automatically entered into the University of Auckland 3MT Final. If a heat winner is unable to take part in the Final, a runner-up may take their place.
  • The presentations will be judged by a panel of three. 
  • During the heats, judges will comment on the quality of the presentations. 
  • During the finals, no feedback will be given, but feedback may be requested after the event from the organisers.


  • All currently enrolled doctoral candidates are eligible to compete in the University of Auckland 3MT Competition. This includes doctoral candidates whose theses are under examination by the date of their first presentation.
  • On-campus participants must normally compete in their Faculty Heat.
  • Participants whose faculties have not organised a Faculty Heat may join the online Open Heat.
  • Participants who are registered as off-campus candidates may also join the online Open Heat.
  • Cross-faculty entrants must compete in the heat organised by the faculty of their main supervisor. If this faculty has not organised a Faculty Heat, then they may compete in the online Open Heat.
  • The Open Heat winner will be invited to take part in the Finals in person.
  • If a doctoral candidate would like to take part in the Open Heat due to exceptional circumstances, they would need to apply to register via the 3MT Open Heat online form.

Entry terms and conditions

  • Finalists will be required to agree to media exposure for their presentation and research, and accept that the Final may be filmed and made available to view on the University of Auckland website and other platforms and channels associated with the University. Recordings may also be used for the purpose of training and workshops.
  • The winner will compete in the Asia-Pacific 3MT Virtual Competition (run by the University of Queensland, Australia) and the U21 3MT Virtual Competition. If the winner is unavailable for those events, the runner-up may be invited to represent the University instead.
  • While all doctoral candidates are eligible to compete in the University of Auckland 3MT Competition, candidates must be confirmed in their programme (i.e. have passed their confirmation review) in order to compete in the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition and the U21 3MT Competition. Therefore, if the winner of the University of Auckland Final has not been confirmed into their programme, then the top-scoring confirmed candidate will be invited to compete in the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition and the U21 3MT Competition instead.

Judging criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension and content

  • Presentation provided clear motivation, background and significance to the research question.
  • Presentation clearly described the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research.
  • Presentation clearly described the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research.

Engagement and communication

  • The oration was delivered clearly, and the language was appropriate for a non-specialist audience.
  • The PowerPoint slide was well-defined and enhanced the presentation.
  • The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention.

Competition rules

  • 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 considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or movement) and 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.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.