Durham University

Department of Geography

News Archive

PhD Student Through to National 3-Minute Thesis Competition Final

(11 September 2016)

2016 3MT Durham Winner - Jenny Horrocks

Jenny is the first student from Durham University to make it to the final of the competition, having qualified by winning the regional heats, beating students from four other universities to represent the North East of England.

She is now preparing to compete against six doctoral research students representing their universities in the grand final of the 3MT Competition. The final is taking place on Monday 12 September 2016 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, during the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference.

PhD students typically spend several years carrying out original research and writing up their findings in a thesis in order to gain a doctorate. An 80,000 word thesis would take nine hours if presented in its entirety.

Researchers of the future

With a long established commitment to research and delivering research-led education, Durham recognises the importance of nurturing the next generation of researchers. The university actively supports research students in developing skills to enable them to communicate their research effectively and gain maximum impact for their findings.

Taking part in the competition is just one of a range of opportunities Durham University's Centre for Academic, Researcher & Organisation Development (CAROD), offers to researchers as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Tailored training programmes, workshops and networking opportunities are available to postgraduate students not only to enhance their research, but to encourage professional development in other areas, particularly communication.

Christine Bohlander, Researcher Development Officer with (CAROD) who organises Durham's involvement in the competition explained: "The 3-Minute Thesis Competition gives our students the chance to share their knowledge and develop presenting and communication skills which will be invaluable in their chosen future careers. We're delighted for Jennifer and wish her every success".

3-Minute Thesis Competition

The 3MT Competition was originally developed by The University of Queensland, Australia in 2008, to celebrate the exciting research conducted by PhD students. The popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 200 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide.

The Competition provides the opportunity to develop academic presentation and research communication skills that support the development of research students' capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. The competition showcases the talents of the next generation of researchers, allowing them to share their research success and new discoveries beyond academia.

Encouraging Engagement

Jenny explained why she entered the competition, "I had been working hard to improve my public speaking skills, thanks to CAROD courses and an Employability Scholarship from University College, and thought this would be a great chance to put what I had learnt into practice. Several of my friends in other universities had taken part and recommended it as a good way to talk about research and improve communications skills.

This competition in particular makes you strip everything back to the bare minimum and helps to keep you focused on what is really important in your research and where it fits into the bigger picture. It gives a new sense of motivation and a chance to pass that enthusiasm for my subject on to others".

The overall winner of the competition, chosen by a panel of judges, will receive a £3,000 grant to spend on public engagement activity, sponsored by Research Councils UK, and a £500 cash prize. Each of the five runners up will receive a £250 cash prize.

The 'People's choice' winner will obtain an invitation to speak at the iconic Royal Institution in the spring of 2017.


Researchers from universities across the country will be presenting on a wide range of topics. The finalists in alphabetical order by institution are:

Jenny Horrocks, Geography, Durham University - How did Antarctica react to past warm periods?

Jonathan Lambert, lnstitute of Child Health, University College London - Fabry disease: can gene therapy clear the waste and revive cellular mojo?

Maddie Long, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh - Language and the Brain: The Skye's the Limit

Katie Groves, Psychology, University of Essex - Bodies in the mirror. Bodies in the brain. Towards electrophysiological biomarkers of body image disturbance

Nazira Albargothy, Clinical & Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton -Mapping the most efficient drug route into the brain

Melissa Colloff, Psychology, University of Warwick - Blame it on the beard