Three Minute Thesis Rules

How to Apply

Candidates are to submit a written proposal of the topic and their hypothesis (250 to 350 words).  This can be a reflection of their research for their current thesis.

Proposals are to be emailed to no later than February 11th (end of day EST)

Proposals should include the individual’s name, their institution, the degree they are currently pursuing and the expected completion date of their degree.

From the proposals, three candidates will be chosen by the History Symposium committee to present at the competition on February 27th.  Candidates will be chosen based on the quality of their written proposal as well as the anticipated audience interest in the given topic.

For the competition, successful candidates will be asked to create a PowerPoint presentation of 5 slides.  The slides will be controlled by the moderator and will advance every 36 seconds which will conclude the 3 minutes. 

Two members of the academic panel will then be able to ask one question each.

After the 3 candidates present and answer the panel’s questions, the panel will decide their winner.  At the same time the viewing audience will be polled for their winner.  Each candidate can only win one prize.

Presentations will be done on a Zoom call which is livestreamed to the History Symposium YouTube channel.


  • All candidates must apply to participate in the competition by a written proposal submitted by email before the specified time on the closing date. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • All candidates must deliver their presentation with the use of verbal speech through a PowerPoint presentation. Songs, plays, music, or any other means of presentation are NOT permitted. Props, costumes and musical instruments are also NOT permitted. Applicants who ignore these rules will be disqualified.
  • Candidates must adhere to the timings for the presentation.  There will be 5 slides and they will be advanced by the host regardless of whether or not the candidate has finished with that slide.  The talk will end at 3 minutes.
  • Presentations which contain sexist, racist, homophobic, or discriminatory or inflammatory material of any kind will be disqualified. The History Symposium reserves the right to refer such cases to the police for investigation.
  • A judge should not be currently serving as a supervisor for a competitor.
  • The decision of the judges is final.

Judging Criteria for the Panel

Engagement and Communication (scored out of 50)

  • Did the presenter engage the audience both in terms of tone of voice, and energy?
  • Did the presenter demonstrate enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter give an engaging presentation?
  • Did the presenter take care not to trivialise or generalise about their research?
  • Did the presenter explain their research clearly in language which is free of jargon?
  • Did the presenter speak clearly and at an appropriate volume?
  • Did the presenter simply read their speech from the screen or paper, or present without notes?

Research and Content (scored out of 50)

  • Did the presentation have a logical structure?
  • Was time divided appropriately between the different elements of their presentation?
  • Did the presentation demonstrate the value of the research being undertaken?
  • Did the presentation demonstrate sufficient depth of research?
  • Did the presentation explain what is new about the interpretations of the researcher?
  • Did the presenter offer an appropriate and engaging route into their research?