Three Minute Thesis Competition Final 2019

The University of Edinburgh Three Minute Thesis Competition Final will take place on Thursday 27th June 2019. The nine finalists in this year’s competition are:

Tim Wilkinson College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Kathryn Jackson-Jones College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Berengere Digard College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Donoghue College of Science and Engineering
Gabriele Pisetta College of Science and Engineering
Fiona McQuaid College of Science and Engineering
Frankie Greenwood College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Niamh MacSweeney College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Rosa Santibañez College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Find out more about the competition, including how to get tickets for the final, here



PGR Mid Semester Welcome Event

Postgraduate research students arriving after Welcome Week still have the opportunity to attend University welcome events.

These welcome sessions are aimed at any new postgraduate research student who was not able to attend the September or January Welcome Week.


You will be provided with information on:

  • how to manage your Research
  • the support that is available to you at the University
  • Information from the Institute for Academic Development, Library Services and the Students Association
  • current PhD students’ experiences

Find out more here

Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Facilitation Skills For Public Engagement 10/5/19

Do you need facilitation skills to do your job? Probably: good facilitation skills are critical to team working, collaborating with other teams and organisations, planning and holding meetings, and small group teaching. If you’d like to improve the communication and inter-personal skills needed to facilitate well, this workshop may be for you! More information here

Effective Writing: Grammar 13/5/19

This workshop will identify common errors in sentence construction and punctuation in academic writing and allow participants to understand how a knowledge of grammar can help writers communicate more effectively. More information here

Proof Reading 22/5/19

This workshop looks at the many stages of copy-editing and proof-reading that must be done before the thesis is submitted or the academic paper published. More information here

A full list of workshops can be found here

Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Writing and Designing your Academic Poster Workshop

Thursday 28th March 2019

This workshop is for PhD researchers who are preparing their academic poster for presentation at a conference or seminar.  More information and booking here

Pitch Perfect: Public Speaking, Networking and Engaging

Friday 29th March 2019

This workshop will cover various situations that academics are faced with regularly with regards to verbal interaction. We will cover delivery of oral presentations, how to get the most from your poster session at a conference, how to pitch your research and how to network effectively. More information and booking here

Managing a Bibliography in Endnote

Tuesday 2nd April 2019

This is an introductory course aimed at getting you started in using EndNote. The course topics include adding records to your EndNote database, using EndNote to insert citations in word documents and generate bibliographies, and tips for efficient management of bibliographic sources. More information and booking here

Conference and Events Organising

Friday 5th April 2019

This workshop is designed specifically for students who are interested in planning events, workshops or conferences. More information and booking here 


IAD Public Engagement

IAD Public Engagement team supports researchers across the university (staff and students) in their public engagement activities.

This includes:

  • Providing expert advice and support for academic managers and researchers about public engagement with research
  • Leading university-wide public engagement related projects
  • Developing and facilitating networking and training opportunities for researchers involved in public engagement
  • Working with external organisations to provide opportunities for public engagement activities
  • Working with Edinburgh’s many festivals to provide public engagement opportunities for researchers including: the Fringe, the Science Festival, the Just Festival, the Film Festival and the History Festival.
  • Representing the University of Edinburgh at the Beltane Public Engagement Network

For more information, please contact the team at

About the Beltane Public Engagement Network

The Beltane Public Engagement Network is a partnership between Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University, Queen Margaret University and The University of Edinburgh. There is an agreement between the four universities to coordinate their approaches to public engagement with research, and training in public engagement.

Beltane was established in 2008, when the universities in Edinburgh were awarded over £1 million of funding to become an RCUK Beacon for Public Engagement. From 2012-2017, the Network was funded by the four universities in Edinburgh to provide a central team based at The University of Edinburgh. This funding has now ended, but the partnership continues.

By joining forces, the four universities can share best practice and opportunities. Having a recognisable point of contact also makes it easier for other organisations to work with Edinburgh’s universities – and to do so without seeming to favour one over the other.

By being part of a university in Edinburgh, you are part of the Network. This means that you can participate in any public engagement opportunity (event or training) at any of the four universities.

For more information visit

Research, Researchers and the Media – A Hands on Approach to Communicating your Research Workshop

The red light comes on and you’re live on air to millions of listeners. That’s the experience we replicate on this immersive three-day course in broadcast production. For that added touch of reality, we install you in one of the state of the art studios at the BBC’s Pacific Quay Glasgow

You also explore the newsgathering process, producing video and radio reports for the evening news. There will be nowhere to hide as you work in groups filming, scripting and editing to tight deadlines.

And, from fairy tales to Star Wars, what makes a great story? In a workshop on narrative, we will uncover the essence of compelling storytelling and how to apply it to your own research.

Whether in the humanities, the arts or sciences, communicating your research matters. In this workshop we explore how to formulate your messages in ways that are relevant, fresh and engaging for diverse non-specialist audiences. This is not a straight media training course. We aim to go deeper than that by critiquing the processes by which ideas pass from academia to the living room. We cast you as the journalists, programme-makers and exhibition designers, bringing you face to face with the practises and pitfalls of the mass media.

There is a strong emphasis on group work, requiring an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in. There is a significant distance-learning element to the course three weeks before you arrive. Think carefully before signing up to this workshop. You will be required to complete around five hours worth of pre-planning online. This will be in a group structure meaning that it will not be possible to opt out of the course once the pre-workshop tuition is underway.

Aims and Objectives:

  • to give a first hand insight into how the media works
  • to practise media techniques like interviewing, scriptwriting and editing
  • to acquire a renewed, savvy attitude to the media and wider engagement

List of Learning Outcomes. By the end of this workshop, students should be able to:

  1. To identify and engage with media techniques such as interviewing, scriptwriting and editing
  2. To identify the various ways in which those in the research community engage with the public

The course leader is Gareth Mitchell of Imperial College London and BBC Radio.

 Pre-course work

In the weeks leading up to the course, participants will be expected to collaborate online, preparing for the radio session at the BBC. With help from the course leader, tasks will involve programme planning, script writing and basic journalistic research. The involvement expected will amount to about five hours per delegate during the pre-course phase.

This is a 3 day workshop. This workshop will run on Thursday 25th April and Friday 26th April from 9.30am – 6.00pm in St Leonard’s Hall, Pollock Halls, and on Saturday 27th April from approximately 10am – 1pm at the BBC Studios in Glasgow. Participation is required for the full duration of the workshop and transportation is not provided to the BBC studios in Glasgow.

For more information and booking see here

Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Viva Survivor – 15th February 2019

Viva Survivor is a session for postgraduate researchers close to submission who want to gain insight on how to be well prepared for their viva. More information and booking here

Beating Writers Block – 19th February 2019

This workshop will look at how writer’s block manifests, what causes it and what strategies you can adopt to re-connect with your writing and your confidence. More information and booking here

Time Management (Online) – 20th February 2019

This workshop will outline the basics of effective time management for researchers.  More information and booking here

Practical Project Management for Research Students – 21st February 2019

This workshop will introduce you to project management, with a focus on the development of practical skills.  More information and booking here

How to Design a Public Engagement Process – 21st February 2019

This workshop give you strategies to design public engagement activities where everyone is engaged and comes away with something useful. More information and booking here


Happy new year from IAD!

Happy New Year and a prosperous 2019 from the IAD!  imagesCAJDXVCV

As a new year starts we continue to provide a range of resources and workshops for Postgraduate Researchers.  Take a look at some of the things we are offering this year:

  • Writing Workshops: We offer a range of writing workshops including Getting Started with your writing, Grammar, Writing for Publication, Is my Writing Academic Enough? and Writing Abstracts.
  • Online Statistics: We run a 5 week online Introductory Statistics for Life Scientists Course
  • PGR Mid-Semester Welcome Event: This event is for students who have missed a University Welcome event this academic year or have arrived recently.
  • 3 Minute Thesis: The  annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition will take place on the 27th June 2019.  Training is available to anyone interested in taking part in this competition, this will take place on the 14th February 2019.
  • Prepare for Doctoral Success: this online course starts on the 11th February and will help you settle in to your doctoral studies by sharing essential information, tips and advice, and giving you an opportunity to interact with other students at the same stage.
  • Our brochure has more information on the workshop and support available to PGR’s – 
  • Follow us on twitter @iad4phd to keep up to date with the latest workshops and events

For more information on all of the above please see here

Dialogue: Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures!

Dialogue: Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures workshop 29th and 30th January 2019.

All researchers are expected to do public engagement – to interact with stakeholder groups and/or wider ‘publics’ in order to increase the impact of their research. Public engagement takes different forms in different disciplines, but in all cases it is most effective when researchers talk with people rather than lecturing at them, when we are open to hearing what other groups have to say.

This course gives practical guidance on how to go about such ‘collaborative conversations’ in a way that is relevant to your research. It builds on the principles of ‘dialogue’, which has proved a powerful approach to communication in public engagement and many other areas. Come to this course and you will:

•Learn to recognise and address where your publics are coming from;

•Build your skills in facilitating dialogue so that everyone is heard and contributes;

•Think strategically about how to design dialogic public engagement activities;

•Start developing the skills to reflect and improve upon your engagement and other communication practices long after the course has ended.

Our training approach combines theory and practice. We will take you through a series of focused exercises, interspersed with short presentations and time for reflection, so that you experience a range of approaches and techniques you can then use in your future work.

Whether you are planning to engage with government bodies, business, product or service users or citizens, this course can help make you more effective. You will leave with a toolbox of skills and techniques that you can use (and refine) in a range of different settings, including – but not only – public engagement with research.

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:

1.Recognise and address where your publics are coming from;

2.Build your skills in facilitating dialogue so that everyone is heard and contributes;

3.Think strategically about how to design dialogic public engagement activities;

4.Continue developing the skills to reflect and improve upon your engagement and other communication practices long after the course has ended.

Find out more here

Communicating your research via 3 Minute Thesis

Guest Blog Post from Owen Gwydion James, winner of the UK 3 Minute Thesis Competition.


Uber driver: You said you’re doing a PhD? What are you working on?

Me: …what’s our ETA?

Uber driver: 3 minutes.

Me: Well pal, strap in.

It might seem like an odd place to begin, but it’s a daily question that should be straightforward to answer, and yet can be tricky to get right. How do you give a stranger with an unknown scientific background a quick overview of what your PhD is about? Sure, you could take the easy route and give a short and simple answer (for me, “Neuroscience”), but this doesn’t give your new friend much to go on, and does a disservice to you and that huge beast of a project that major part of your life. The answer? Take part in the 3 Minute Thesis competition.

180 seconds seems like a phenomenally short amount of time to unload the details of your project on to someone—without sounding like you’re giving the rules and regulations on a radio advert. But taking part in the 3MT competition forces you to step away from the details of that day’s experiment and consider why you’re doing what you’re doing. What does it mean to you? What impact does your work have in the wider scheme of things? And hopefully, after some tentative introspection (and no small amount of edits), you’re left with some snappy sentences that come in handy for all situations—whether you’re talking to friends and family, a scientific audience, or the occasional Uber driver.

This type of communication has become as important to get right as all the publications, meetings and presentations that make up the bulk of academic life. In my lab, we regularly have visits from people with different neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, and their families, coming in to see what we do. Being able to communicate what our research is about, and what we are hoping to achieve with regards to understanding disease mechanism and identifying new drugs, is something I take great pride in. More and more, the academic community is reaching out to the general public to help educate people on science, health, technology—you name it! It boosts the public perception of scientists and enables more informed conversations that ultimately lead to evidence-based choices and change. Being able to talk casually about your research­—without jargon—is an important step towards this, and who doesn’t like talking about their PhD anyway?

The 3MT

I first became interested in the 3MT when I saw a previous student in my lab, Chen Zhao, win the Edinburgh University final three years ago. I was blown away. Here were 9 students, with very different projects, giving the slickest presentations that I had seen at PhD level. They were engaging, inspiring, clever and funny, and it was great to see how passionately and efficiently they talked about their research.

Coming up with a hook is helpful; a nice analogy that your audience can relate to. I was lucky enough to get feedback from my friends and lab mates to home in on this, and I even managed to get a (very small) joke in, which was a bit of fun. Training from the University after the college round helped a lot too; getting taught how to make eye contact with a crowd and the importance of slowing down to make a point. It’s a performance! And honestly, your nerves will stop jangling after the first time you do it.

Unfortunately, practise really does make perfect and I feel pretty bad for my girlfriend. She helped me a lot and after the number of times I went over it at home, her party trick is now performing my 3MT word for word! But all this work meant that I grew in confidence each time I did it and I ended up really enjoying each presentation.

Should you do it?

Definitely. I’ve learnt so much from competing in the 3MT. It has been one of the best experiences I’ve had during my PhD and it’s opened the door to more opportunities too. Since winning the final, I was invited to the University of Edinburgh Chancellor’s dinner at Holyrood Palace, where I got to meet the Princess Royal and the University principal. I was also asked to present my 3MT there, which was an amazing experience. A friend of mine even used my 3MT video as a teaching tool in her high school biology class! Next, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some fun new public engagement events with the generous prize money from UKRI—watch this space!

I would thoroughly recommend taking part. And even if you just go to watch, it’s a great cross-disciplinary event with a level of diversity in the talk topics that is rare to find. It’s brought me closer to my project and helped immensely with my public speaking.

Find out more about the 3 Minute Thesis Competition here