Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.

3MT® challenges PhD students to explain the complexity and relevance of their research to a non-specialist audience in a concise and engaging way. Presenters have a maximum of three minutes to pitch their research and can only use one slide.

Find out more about this year's judges:

Patrick Watt

Patrick is Head of the Evaluation & Research team at SDS. Prior to joining SDS he worked for Futureskills Scotland and was previously a director of a leading Scottish economic development consultancy. He has an honours degree in mathematics and statistics, a masters in urban and regional planning, and a PhD in labour economics.

I was delighted with the standard of entries for this year’s competition. All our students managed to convey the importance of their research for policy and practice – in three minutes each. This ability to communicate complex concepts and ideas to a non-technical audience in a very short space of time will stand them all in good stead in their future careers. I’d also like to thank my fellow judges once again, Mhairi and Scott, for their expert input and advice during the judging process.

Dr Patrick Watt – Head of Evaluation & Research, Skills Development Scotland

Mhairi Mackenzie

Mhairi is Professor of Public Policy, based within Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow where her research focuses on health inequalities, discourses of the social determinants of health and gender-based violence.

Since 2016 she has been Deputy Director of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science where she is responsible for running studentship competitions including a collaborative competition in partnership with Skills Development Scotland.

Mhairi also has academic oversight of the SGSSS Internship Programme which provides social science PhDs across Scotland the opportunity to undertake 3 month fully funded internships with a range of public, third and private sector organisations – Skills Development Scotland is a key partner within this programme. 

The entries for the 2021 competition were very impressive - it's lovely to see doctoral candidates who are in command of their subject area and able to communicate the importance of their research to a non specialist audience. There were lots of examples of good communication techniques being used - engaging metaphors, passion and direct eye-contact with the virtual audience. It was also great to see strong entries from those still at Masters level - demonstrating early ownership of these important research topics.

Mhairi Mackenzie, Professor of Public Policy, based within Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow

Scott Hurrell

Scott is a senior lecturer in the Adam Smith business School, University of Glasgow, who researches and teaches in the area of work, employment and organisation. Scott moved to Scotland in 2003 under the forerunner of the SDS PhD programme, with Futureskills Scotland. Scott’s current research interests include the effects of technology on work and skill, graduate transitions during the COVID crisis, and the use of realist social theory. Scott is a season ticket holder at Partick Thistle, and is currently looking to do more hill walking, take up golf, and try sea kayaking - probably not all at the same time.

It was a pleasure to be involved with judging these excellent entries that were very engaging, yet also conveyed key messages, to show how socially important these research topics are. The candidates showed a lot of creativity to enable them to communicate clearly with non-expert audiences, to a far greater degree than I could during my doctoral studies!

Scott Hurrell , Senior lecturer in the Adam Smith business School, University of Glasgow