Sussex Researcher School

Three Minute Thesis

An 80,000 word thesis would take nine hours to present. Your time limit... three minutes!

3MT returned to Sussex for 2024 - the final took place on campus on Thursday 06 June as part of the SussexDocFest, and we hope to share the winning talks with you soon!

About 3MT

3MT is an academic competition that challenges postgraduate researchers (PGRs) to deliver a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes. It started at the University of Queensland and competitions take place at institutions around the world each year. 

Participants at Sussex compete for a chance to win £500 towards research and a place in the Vitae UK semi-finals. There are also prizes of £250 for the runner-up and People's Choice. Entrants are supported with a full day’s training and a peer practice session to help hone those presenting skills.

Meet the presenters

Deborah Upchurch (Education & Social Work)

Reclaiming Reading: A collaborative action research project

Over 25% of children in England leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard and worst affected are those already at socioeconomic disadvantage. Current educational policy reduces reading to a set of skills and fails to take into account the importance of reading engagement. This research explores how agentive social reading groups can raise reader engagement for primary aged children in disadvantaged contexts. The resulting rich, highly contextualised data gathered during Spring 2024 illustrates both the immediate and exponential impact of school-based action research and it’s potential to challenge educational policy.

Leonard Chimanda Joseph (Law, Politics and Sociology)

Two homes, no home: the Global Compact on Refugees vis-à-vis 50 years of refugees in Kigoma villages, Tanzania

Burundian refugees are in Kigoma villages in Tanzania since 1972; more than fifty years now suffering from predicaments such as statelessness, poor access to labour market and stigma. Using decolonial theory of knowledge, third world approach (es) to international law in particular; this study seeks to examine the role of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) in identifying durable solutions that enhance the resilience of refugees who are self-settled in Kigoma villages in Tanzania. Adopted by the United Nations in 2018, the GCR reflects the current international legal obligations by states on offering solutions to refugees.

Sunisha Neupane (Institute for Development Studies)

मातृत्व संघर्षका कथा [Stories of Motherhood and Resilience] - Researching maternal health and care in rural Nepal

Every day, nearly 800 women die from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, with 95% of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. While the maternal mortality rate has significantly declined since the 1990s, disparities persist. In Nepal, women in remote areas continue to face inadequate care and higher mortality rates. My PhD research investigates the reasons behind this disparity. Over 13 months of ethnographic and participatory fieldwork in a 4000-meter-high mountain village in Nepal, I followed 16 pregnant women. My results show what maternity care means to them and uncover the barriers to maternal healthcare they encounter.

Emily Whelan (Psychology)

Seeing Sounds and Tasting Colors: The Sweet and Sour of Synaesthesia

Have you ever experienced a blending of senses, like tasting colours or seeing sounds? This fascinating phenomenon is known as synaesthesia. My research explores how synaesthetes, their relatives, and experts in colour and spatial fields may perceive and remember things differently. By comparing their abilities, we aim to uncover whether unique perceptual strengths in synaesthesia stem from the condition itself or from a blend of cognitive factors. This study could reveal how our brains connect perception, memory, and imagination, shedding light on the extraordinary ways our senses intertwine and influence each other.

Dolores Teixeira de Brito (Global Studies)

Voluntary Sustainability Standards: to what extent do they work?

I am researching the effectiveness of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) in Global Supply Chains, with a focus on inequalities in Global Value Chains (GVCs). To explore these issues, I have chosen the açaí berry sector in the Brazilian Amazon. I collected my data through interviews with harvesters, companies and other actors. My analysis centres on understanding how VSS initiatives green value chains in a sector at its early stage of internationalization. I focus on the perspective of harvesters using the Global Value Chain framework.

Edward Langley (Global Studies)

Bullshit jobs and financialisation in neoliberal Britain

‘Bullshit jobs’ should not exist under efficient capitalism. David Graeber (2018) attributed their rise to financialisation: rent-seeking has dominated in neoliberal, post-industrial economies with work evolving accordingly. However the proportion of those employed in financial services has remained stable over recent decades, indicating the possibility of other neoliberal culprits.

My research- analysing macroeconomic data and conducting worker’s surveys- investigates whether Britain may hold some answers, specifically whether its expanding services sector has geared the economy away from producing utility for society and instead towards maintaining institutions and power structures which serve the interests of global capital.

3MT 2024 Results

  • Winner: Sunisha Neupane (Institute of Development Studies)
  • 2nd Place: Emily Whelan (Psychology)
  • People's Choice Award: Leonard Chimanda Joseph (Law, Politics and Sociology)

3MT 2024 Judges

  • Prof Jeremy Niven, Dean of the Sussex Researcher School
  • Dr Samuel Knafo, Reader in International Relations
  • Dominika Varga, 3MT winner 2023
  • Dr Priscilla Mensah, Director of Research Development at Nelson Mandela University

About the 2024 3MT competition

This year, to open the competition to more researchers, we're piloting local 3MTs in most Social Sciences Schools (Global, ESW, LPS).

Researchers who participate locally will gain presenting experience in a more informal setting, and the winner of each School 3MT will go through to the Sussex final. These events will be organised by each School; contact your Research and Enterprise Coordinator for information.

The final will be made up of the three School 3MT winners plus the top presenters from the central competition, decided at a semi-final event in May.

Check out what our finalists from last year had to say about taking part in the 3MT.

Key dates

March-April: School 3MT competitions held
Monday 25 March: Central applications open
Friday 3 May: Central applications close
Monday 13 May: 3MT training day for central participants and School winners
Tuesday 21 May: central 3MT semi-final
Tuesday 28 May: peer practice day for finalists
Thursday 6 June: Sussex 3MT final

Previous 3MT competitions 

Take a look at previous events to familiarise yourself with the competition, including details of the winners, abstracts from all the finalists, and photos from the day. 

Watch a recording of Dominika Varga's 2023 winning presentation on our 3MT 2023 webpage, and visit the Vitae website for more on the UK national competition.


Sussex Researcher School