Three minute thesis competition goes digital

Winner of Western Sydney University's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition for 2021, Kirsty Macaulay from the School of Education.

Presenting years of complex research in just three minutes is one of the many challenges thrown at Higher Degree Research students. This year, 16 of Western Sydney University’s best and brightest took up that challenge for the online Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, showcasing innovative research in diverse areas such as cancer, oral health, education, and construction.

Held in over 200 universities worldwide, the 3MT competition challenges PhD candidates to present their research in 3 minutes to a non-specialist audience. The competition aims to develop a researchers’ presentation and academic communications skills.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership, Professor Michelle Trudgett, who was also a judge for the 2021 3MT competition,  congratulated all winners and finalists.

“The quality and diversity of presentations, genuine passion, and rigour of research was outstanding. It also reiterated Western Sydney University’s commitment to high-impact research that will make tangible and ongoing differences in the world. It was a pleasure to listen to such an innovative new generation of researchers,” said Professor Trudgett.

The competition was won by Kirsty Macaulay from the School of Education. Her prestation, titled Questioning the Questions, focused on understanding how, what, and why teachers use certain questions in primary and secondary classrooms.

“The 3MT competition was a great opportunity for me to synthesis my research question, methodology and findings into a concise, confident, and clear 3-minute presentation.

“The process of reviewing my work for a non-specialist audience, allowed me to deeply consider the ‘why’ of the impact and importance of the area I selected to study. As I prepared and practiced my 3MT entry on my kind (and forgiving) family, I realised that the elements of my research that were extremely interesting and relevant to me, needed to be considered from an audience's perspective to answer why the research could be relevant to everyone. This perspective changed the way I explained my research.

“I am deeply honoured to be selected as the Western Sydney University 3MT winner for 2021, as my WSU colleagues' presentations were also inspirational and important. The 3MT 2021 event showcased the positive impact, depth, and breadth of current research at WSU that I'm proud to be part of,” said Kirsty Macaulay

Kirsty will now represent the School of Education and Western Sydney University at the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition.

The runner-up of the 2021 competition was Brondwyn McGhie from the School of Science with her presentation, Equipping Cancer Drugs with Navigation.

The People’s Choice Award was won by Kasun Gunasekara from the School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment with his prestation Simple Measures to Tell a Big Story.

For more information and to watch the presentations of all finalists, visit:


14 September 2021

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer