7 doctoral researchers to brave the stage in Sussex’s Three Minute Thesis competition

On Wednesday 27th June, a group of courageous doctoral researchers will take to the stage to compete in our Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. They’ll be condensing their 80,000-word thesis into engaging, three-minute presentations, performed in front of a live audience and judging panel.

3MT is a national competition, and the rules are strict. Armed with only a single, static powerpoint slide, participants have a maximum of three minutes to communicate their thesis to a live audience. Props are strictly forbidden, as are costumes of any sort. There’s no leeway on the time limit, either. If a presentation runs over by a single second, the speaker is disqualified. The word ‘speaker’ is important here – presentations must be spoken. Singing and humming are prohibited, as are rap and poetry.


The competition will be judged by a specially selected panel drawn from Sussex, who will be assessing each presenter based on the quality of their content, and the skill with which they communicate it. They’ll be asking questions such as:

  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate their points?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?

Those brave enough to take part could be richly rewarded: the winning presenter will receive £500 towards their research and a spot in the UK’s 3MT semi-final, where they’ll compete against finalists from other participating universities. There’s also a prize for second place (£300 towards research) and a People’s Choice Prize (£200 towards research). We’ll be profiling all of our contestants on our Twitter page soon.

3MT takes place on Wednesday 27th June in the ACCA’s Jane Attenborough Studio, between 13:30-15:00.  If you’d like to come along, you can book your place here. 3MT is part of Sussex’s upcoming Festival of Doctoral Research, a three-day programme of special events celebrating our outstanding doctoral researchers. You can see the full Festival programme here.

Five Reasons to Visit the Festival of Doctoral Research


With just over a month to go, we’ve listed the top five reasons to come along to our very first Festival of Doctoral Research, running from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 June. There’s something for everyone, so take a look at the list below, and visit our webpages for more details.

#1 – It’s a chance to meet other doctoral researchers

Doctoral researchers are lovely. It’s a fact. You’re kind, intelligent people, on a mission to make the world a better place. So what could be better than spending three sunny days in June in their company?

You could come along to our ‘Living Library’ and check out a ‘Living Book’ in the form of a doctoral researcher. Take them for a coffee and they’ll tell you all about their research journey. Each of our books has a unique story to tell, and you can ask them any questions you have in a casual, relaxed setting. Alternatively, visit PubhD and you’ll hear other doctoral researchers explain their research at ‘pub-level’ – free of academic jargon and accessible to a non-specialist audience. These are both great opportunities to spend time with other researchers and hear about the exciting work happening at Sussex.




#2 – It’s about community

Sussex boasts an incredible research environment, made up of a diverse group of researchers from all over the world. Each doctoral researcher adds their own unique contribution to this community, and we think that should be celebrated, and that’s why we’ve chosen events especially designed to show the rest of Sussex the fantastic things our researchers are achieving.

Why not come along to our Public Engagement Pop-Up? We’ve invited some of the doctoral and early career researchers who received funding through our Public Engagement fund to take part in an exhibition showcasing some of the tricks they developed to inspire the public. These activities are designed to get people excited, so there’s no way you’ll be bored. Or, why not book a place on our Three Minute Thesis competition and watch a group of courageous doctoral researcher to compress their 80,000 word thesis into an engaging three-minute presentation – in front of a live audience and judging panel!




#3 – We’ll be asking some serious questions:

The Festival isn’t just a time for celebration – it’s a time to reflect on the qualities we most admire about our doctoral community, and ask how we can each work, as individuals, to protect these qualities. In this spirit of inquiry, our opening talks will address one of the most pressing issues facing current and future researchers: mental health.

On Tuesday 26th June, we’ll be hearing from three speakers – Dr Fiona Denney (Director of Brunel Educational Excellence Centre), Dr Jeremy Niven (Project Lead for ‘Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers’) and Josh Hutton (doctoral researcher – Science and Technology Studies) – who are focussed on moving the  mental health agenda for doctoral researchers from reactive to pro-active, and working on initiatives to support our doctoral communities to thrive and succeed. Taking both a national and a local perspective, these speakers will tell us how we can best maintain our own wellbeing, as well as that of those around us.

 #4 – It’s a visual feast:

One of the highlight’s of this year’s Festival promises to be our Research Image Competition exhibition. We asked Sussex’s doctoral researchers to send us an image perfectly capturing the scope and excitement of their research, and they didn’t disappoint! We’ll be shortlisting the very best images soon, and displaying them in a special exhibition in the ACCA’s Gardner Tower. Come along, see them for yourself, and vote for your favourite!

RIC photographer.jpg
Come along on Thursday 28th June to see the shortlisted images from our Research Image Competition.

#5 – It’s an actual feast!

Once we’ve given you some food for thought, it’s likely your thoughts might be turning to food. Well, don’t worry – we’re holding a big, sunny summer BBQ to celebrate the end of the Festival, and to say a big thank you to everyone who came along and made it so special. All researchers who register in advance will receive a voucher for the BBQ and one drink. There’s beef and vegan burgers and this year we’ve even got chips.

If that’s whetted your appetite, take a look at our web-pages for the full programme. If you’d like to contribute to the Festival, contact researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk.

Learn how to plan a researcher-led initiative, event or activity at our Festival of Doctoral Research

We’re excited to be running a Doctoral Community Sandpit workshop on Thursday 28 June, during the University’s first Festival of Doctoral Research. The Sandpit will be a chance for doctoral researchers to gain valuable hands-on experience of planning an activity or initiative, through a competitive game. There will be prizes for the winning team, a live voting poll, and plenty of coffee to fuel your imagination.

Design your own community-building activity

In the game, teams will work collaboratively to design and plan an event, activity or initiative. Your theme and budget will be determined by the roll of a dice. Together we’ll vote on our favourite proposals using a live poll, and the winning team will receive a prize! After the event, we’ll move our celebrations to the end-of-festival BBQ.

If you have minimal experience in organising initiatives, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what skills and logistics are required, with practical involvement in the process and expert advice available during the event. If you have plenty of experience, this is your chance to work with different people to develop new ideas; and to share what has worked for you in the past, and what hasn’t worked!

Discover more about existing researcher-led initiatives at Sussex – and the support available for your own.

As an additional part of this workshop, we will be showcasing examples of successful initiatives led by Sussex doctoral researchers, to inspire and inform you.

The Doctoral School’s Helen Hampson will be on hand with expert knowledge about the support available to plan and run your own initiative through the Researcher-Led Initiative fund, which awards up to £1000 to applicants each year. We will also discuss other opportunities at Sussex, including the Public Engagement Fund.

Hive Scholars

There will be a brief welcome talk by the current Hive Scholars, reflecting on some successful initiatives run by the Hive over the years, including the famous Book Sprint, the Hive Doctoral Discussion series, and this year’s International Women’s Day week to celebrate women in research. In turn, we will share with you what has worked and not worked in our experience and that of previous Scholars.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Doctoral Community Sandpit will be on Thursday 28th June, from 14.00 – 15.30, in the Research Hive (The Library, First Floor). Book your place here.

The Festival of Doctoral Research will run from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 June 2018, with an exciting programme of events, competitions, workshops and a summer BBQ to celebrate doctoral research. Get involved!


Training, development and a competitive salary: learn to teach with the Researchers in Schools programme.



The Researchers in Schools programme offers a unique opportunity: a fully-salaried route into teaching through a three-year training and professional development scheme designed to turn researchers into high-effective classroom teachers. Delivered by The Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity that exists to widen access to highly-selective universities for pupils from under-represented groups, the programme places participants directly into schools to develop their skills in a real-life setting.

Benefits of the scheme include:

  • A highly competitive salary and benefits package with salary uplift for maths and physics teachers
  • Protected time to pursue the Researchers in Schools aims with the opportunity to maintain a research profile
  • Honorary Research Associate status from a research-intensive university
  • Minimum 11 weeks’ paid holiday, teachers’ pension

Upon completing the programme, all participants will gain Qualified Teacher Status.

Interested? The deadline for applications is 23rd May 2018, and more information can be found at here.