Three Minute Thesis Training sessions 2024

Birkbeck 3MT: Thursday 16 May 2024

Join a selection of Birkbeck PhD students as they compete to communicate their compelling thesis topics in just three minutes. This event is a fantastic opportunity to share and celebrate the interests and successes of PhD researchers from across the College and we invite all current Birkbeck PhD students to take part. The winner of the Birkbeck competition will be chosen by an expert panel of judges who will award:

  • £500 to the overall winner
  • £250 to the runner up
  • The audience will also have their say by picking a People’s Choice winner who’ll win a special prize.

Training Sessions

As part of our support for the competition, a free programme of training sessions has been arranged. All potential 3MT competitors should attend these sessions. However, any or all of them are open to any doctoral researcher at Birkbeck who would like to gain skills in these areas:

2023 Competition

Please see this blog from last year in which competitors share how they chose to use their research to enter the competition. You can also watch a selection of Birkbeck 3MT videos here.

What is it like to take part in 3MT?

Some previous contenders have kindly shared what they gained from taking part.

Marie Houghton said that it ‘helped me to clarify exactly what I think the main message of my PhD is’ and that she ‘would definitely recommend taking part in the 3MT to any other PhD students.’

Hannah Reeves also said that the competition allowed her to ‘think about what matters most about my research – what do I care about, what do the community I’m working with care about, and what will this audience care about.’ She also described herself as nervous about the experience of being on stage but ‘the training helped to develop a mutually supportive atmosphere.’

Doyin Olorunfemi described how ‘the exercise of delivering a concise speech gives you clarity of mind as a researcher and clarifies your contribution.’ She would ‘highly recommend the competition.’

2024 Birkbeck 3-minute Thesis competition: Join the audience on Thursday 16 May

  • The BGRS is pleased to announce the 2024 Birkbeck 3 Minute Thesis Competition, which will take place on Thursday 16 May from 6pm. Please mark this date in your diaries!
  • £500 to the overall winner
  • £250 to the runner-up
Top row left to right: Conor J. Kelly, Jo Brydon-Dickenson, Allison McKibban. Bottom row left to right: Graham Driver, Laura Phillips-Farmer, Clau Di Gianfrancesco

This is the headline BGRS event of the year

This is an event for all doctoral researchers and also for anyone interested in studying for a PhD. The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

During the reception prizes will be awarded to the 3 Minute Thesis Competition winners.

Register to attend

You can be part of the audience for this year’s Three Minute Thesis Competition.

Registration is now open for this event

As part of the audience you will have a vote to decide who is the People’s Choice. You can also join the Birkbeck postgraduate community in celebrating the diversity of research interests undertaken here, and raise a glass to that with a drinks reception after the winners have been announced.

If you would like to participate in this year’s competition please see this post for more information.

Birkbeck Research Degree Awards: 2023-24

Birkbeck awards over 100 research degrees each year. Between October and December 2023, 27 Birkbeck Doctoral Researchers were awarded a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate for their work in the following areas:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Science

6 PhDs in Creative Arts, Culture and Communication

5 PhDs in Historical Studies

2 PhDs in Social Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

5 PhDs in Computing and Mathematical Sciences

1 PhD and 1 MPhil in Natural Sciences

1 PhD in Psychological Sciences

Faculty of Business and Law

5 PhDs in Business

1 PhD in Law

Three minute thesis videos 2023


On Thursday 25 May, Birkbeck doctoral students took part in the 2023 Three Minute Thesis Competition. Conor Kelly was the overall winner and received a £500 prize.
Thesis title: Northern Ireland’s Political Parties Shifting Stances on European Integration 

Thesis title: Percy Grainger and Trans Identity in Edwardian England

Thesis title: The role of vFLIP in Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpes Virus (KSHV) Oncogenesis

Thesis title: Admitting Demons: Brexit and Psychoanalysis

Thesis title: Law and Evolutionary Agency in Outer Space

Thesis Title: An Era of Violence: Confronting Colonialism in the U.S. Violence Against Women Act (1994-Present) 

Thesis title: Choice of Court Agreement in Private International Law of Insurance Contracts: An analysis of harmonisation efforts in the field of jurisdictional party autonomy in insurance

Winners of the 2023 Three Minute Thesis and BGRS Poster Competitions

Top row left to right: Conor J. Kelly, Jo Brydon-Dickenson, Allison McKibban. Bottom row left to right: Graham Driver, Laura Phillips-Farmer, Clau Di Gianfrancesco

Birkbeck’s annual Three Minute Thesis and Poster competitions were held on 25 May and proved to be an entertaining and invigorating evening for competitors and the audience alike.  

For the Three Minute Thesis competition, participants from a range of different disciplines were challenged to present their scholarly research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. Showcasing their ability to talk with clarity and passion about their research, as well as their presentation skills, the quality of entries from doctoral students was exceptionally high. For the Poster competition, doctoral students submitted a poster design that explained their complex research to a mixed audience of non-subject specialists.  

The winner and recipient of a £500 prize for the Three Minute Thesis was Conor J. Kelly, for his talk entitled ‘Brexit and Northern Ireland’s Political Parties’.

The winner of the Poster competition and recipient of £150 was Graham Driver for ‘Exploring the geological evolution of Glacier-like Forms on Mars’. As well as the winners, a panel of judges also selected runners-up for each competition, and there was also a people’s choice award.  

Below is more information about the students who placed as winners and runners-up, and their respective research.  

Three Minute Thesis Judges Winner: Conor J. Kelly  

Thesis title: Northern Ireland’s Political Parties Shifting Stances on European Integration 

What’s it about? Northern Ireland’s political parties have had a huge influence on political developments related to Brexit in recent years. But the parties themselves have often presented contrasting positions on whether they support European integration since Ireland and the UK joined in 1973. There is literature on how parties form their positions on the EU. However, I argue Northern Ireland presents a somewhat unique case, and I try to show why you need to go beyond the current literature on political parties in order to understand how they behave towards Europe. 

Why this research? I grew up in Donegal, near the Irish border and I’ve always been interested in the politics and history of Ireland. The 2016 Brexit referendum brought the politics of Northern Ireland back to the top of the political agenda in Ireland, the UK, and the European Union. My thesis is trying to make sense of one dimension of a complicated but fascinating set of political dynamics. 

What’s your background? I did my BA at the University of Galway in Ireland and then studied for an MA at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Prior to coming to Birkbeck in 2018 to do a MRes and then a PhD, I had a variety of different jobs in not-for-profit fundraising in New York and London. 

Three Minute Thesis Runner-up: Jo Brydon-Dickenson

Thesis title: Percy Grainger and Trans Identity in Edwardian England 

What’s it about? It’s about a musician who wrote a lot about gender and sexuality in their private letters and diaries. I’m using those documents to try to piece together some understanding of what it was like to be trans in London in the early twentieth century and how people like Percy Grainger might have understood themselves.  

Why this research? A lot of trans history before the 1950s is built upon court records and newspaper articles, and it’s very rare that we get to hear trans people speaking for ourselves. So, when I came across these documents with Grainger expressing thoughts that will probably seem quite familiar to a lot of trans people today, I thought it was important to take the time to unpick them and show how they might help us understand the trans past.  

What’s your background? Before this, I was doing a Master’s at Reading and a degree at Sussex, both with a focus on music and gender in history. My background also includes a lot of performing music, so I love the opportunity to bring the things that I’ve learned as a musician into my research. 

Three Minute Thesis People’s Choice Winner: Allison McKibban

Thesis Title: An Era of Violence: Confronting Colonialism in the U.S. Violence Against Women Act (1994-Present) 

What’s it about? While laws regulating sexual violence are used by governments around the world, it remains a global health crisis. For 30 years, the U.S. Violence Against Women Act has addressed sexual violence, and in particular, violence against Indigenous women. My research questions why this set of laws hasn’t prevented the violence, through uncovering the ingrained beliefs beneath the words written in the more than 2000 pages of legislation. 

Why this research? The United States government has enacted violence against Indigenous communities for centuries. However, as a U.S. citizen, I never learned of this ongoing colonization until I was in university. My research pushes back on my own government’s violent policies, but also has compelled me to do activist work to restore land to Indigenous peoples. 

What’s your background? Before Birkbeck, I worked in government affairs in the US and attended LSE and Oxford to study for master’s degrees related to law, gender, and history. 

Poster Competition Winner: Graham Driver 

Thesis Title: Exploring the Geomorphological Evolution of Glacier-Like Forms on Mars 

What’s it about? The mid-latitudes of Mars are populated by numerous water-ice-rich landforms known as Glacier-Like Forms (GLFs) that are similar in appearance to valley glaciers found on Earth. Little is known about these glaciers and how they have evolved over time. Using data collected by orbiting spacecraft, and computer climate modelling, I am attempting to provide insight into the geological evolution of these landforms and discover what environmental factors influence glacial evolution on Mars. 

Why this research? I have always been interested in space exploration and geology, particularly in geomorphology and how landscapes are formed. When you think of Mars, you think of a dry, cold, dead planet, not an active landscape with large glaciers on its surface. The difference between what I had known about Mars before and the excitement of what I could discover exploring another planet drew me to this research. It’s an amazing privilege to have the opportunity to look at Mars every day from images I have requested from spacecraft 140 million miles away.  

What’s your background? Like many Birkbeck alumni I was working a steady job when, aged 30, I decided to go back to university to study something I have always been passionate about: planetary science. I worked full-time whilst completing my degree at Birkbeck, and graduated in 2019. In 2020, this PhD was advertised at Birkbeck, and I was fortunate enough to be selected for the position. Now I’ve had the opportunity to teach one of the modules which got me here and help other students towards their goals of exploring the geology of our solar system. 

Poster Competition Runner-up: Laura Phillips-Farmer 

Thesis title: Where structural and individual factors interplay: Building on the pathways approach to homelessness  

What’s it about? It’s about looking at the factors involved in why and how people come to face homelessness in the UK. Currently, research is split between ‘individual factors’ or ’structural factors’ or episodes of both types of factors. I would like to explore the spaces where they interplay using Life Course Theory and by focusing particularly on families.  

Why this research? Homelessness in the UK is a crisis that many take for granted. Comparisons between countries show that policy makes a huge difference, but it is highly contested over. I wanted to provide research that would give some weight to arguments in these areas. I was keen to slightly dismantle this idea that there’s always going to be some people who are safely in housing and some people who don’t get that, and that there’s something inherent about ’those people’. Homelessness charities sometimes make the point that “we’re all only one or two months of pay away from being homeless”, but it’s more complicated than that, with inequalities being deeper rooted. I want my research to help people tackle that complexity.  

What’s your background? I’ve worked as a youth worker, managed a winter night shelter project, and also a support worker for a homelessness charity. I took the Birkbeck conversion MSc in 2019-20, studied a health and social psychology MSc at Maastricht University in the Netherlands the following year, and began my PhD in the summer of 2021. 

Poster Competition Runner-up: Clau Di Gianfrancesco
 

Thesis title: Collective Practices of Undoing and Unbecoming: Masculinity and Theatre of the Oppressed 
 

What’s it about? I am investigating the potentialities held by participatory theatrical practices, and more specifically of Theatre of the Oppressed, in troubling and re-imagining gender and masculinity. In my work, I consider the work of decolonial, antiracist, queer, and feminist thinkers – and specifically, those who have used theatre and performances as privileged sites to question and trouble gender normativity. My aim is to investigate theoretical and practical ways of doing and undoing gender and masculinity. I am using an ethnographic approach, detailing my experience with companies working with Theatre of the Oppressed in different parts of the world.  

Why this research? I have been interested in questions pertaining to gender, theatre and gender performances since my BA in Psychology. I find theatre an incredibly helpful and productive medium to explore questions of identity and gender. Given my added interest in collaborative storytelling and collective imagination, I think that theatre and performance offer privileged sites for such rich, artistic, multi-sensorial, embodied and collaborative ways. 

What’s your background? While studying for my BA in Psychology, I saw my first Theatre of the Oppressed play which I was so profoundly struck by it that it informed my dissertation. After my BA, I did a Master’s in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, where I learned about a rich variety of theories and methodological approaches and encountered a vibrant community of postgraduate students. After a year of working as a Research Assistant at Goldsmiths in the Department of Sociology, I was awarded the UBEL, ESRC 3+1 scholarship which is currently funding my PhD research. 

Three Minute Thesis Training sessions

The BGRS is pleased to announce the 2023 Birkbeck 3 Minute Thesis Competition, which will take place on Thursday 25 May from 6pm. Please mark this date in your diaries!

Birkbeck 3MT: Thursday 25 May 2023

Join a selection of Birkbeck PhD students as they compete to communicate their compelling thesis topics in just three minutes. This event is a fantastic opportunity to share and celebrate the interests and successes of PhD researchers from across the College and we invite all current Birkbeck PhD students to take part. The winner of the Birkbeck competition will be chosen by an expert panel of judges who will award:

  • £500 to the overall winner
  • £250 to the runner up
  • The audience will also have their say by picking a people’s choice winner who’ll win a special prize.

Training Sessions

As part of our support for the competition, a free programme of training sessions has been arranged. All potential 3MT competitors should attend these sessions. However, any or all of them are open to any doctoral researcher at Birkbeck who would like to gain skills in these areas:

What is it like to take part in 3MT?

Some of last year’s contenders have kindly shared what they gained from partaking.

Marie Houghton said that it ‘helped me to clarify exactly what I think the main message of my PhD is’ and that she ‘would definitely recommend taking part in the 3MT to any other PhD students.’

Hannah Reeves also said that the competition allowed her to ‘think about what matters most about my research – what do I care about, what do the community I’m working with care about, and what will this audience care about.’ She also described herself as nervous about the experience of being on stage but ‘the training helped to develop a mutually supportive atmosphere.’

Doyin Olorunfemi described how ‘the exercise of delivering a concise speech gives you clarity of mind as a researcher and clarifies your contribution.’ She would ‘highly recommend the competition.’

CHASE Feminist Network: Open Forum Meeting 2023

Join us in this open discussion to find your place in the CHASE Feminist Network, now rescheduled for 12 January 2023, 16:00 GMT.

The CHASE Feminist Network invites you to an open forum meeting to discuss the future of the network. Help shape this important and impactful network and come discuss what events you’d like to attend, participate in or organise. 

On the agenda: We will be reviving the CHASE Feminist Network Conference this year, a popular and successful in-person event in pre-pandemic years. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see for this conference, ideas for themes or any other suggestions, please bring them with you to the Open Forum.

Beyond that, we’re looking for input on how the network should be run, what kind of events you’d like to see, and most importantly, how we can bridge the incredible programmes of CFN’s past archives with our promising next chapter.

About CFN: The CHASE Feminist Network has been facilitating incredible events and projects since 2016. From small project grants to interdisciplinary conferences, this inclusive space offers a breadth of opportunities to explore new ways to engage with and advocate for feminism in all its varieties. Now, after a short hiatus, we’re starting afresh with new ideas and a new cohort. And we want you to be a part of it.

All are welcome, see you there!

Birkbeck Open Research Symposium – call for lightning talks: Tuesday 1 November 1-5pm

Birkbeck Library is pleased to announce its first Birkbeck Open Research Symposium which this year is themed “Open for Climate Justice”, in line with International Open Access Week

The event features a keynote from Dr Caroline Edwards, and an afternoon of speakers and lightning talks, aimed at discussing the crossovers between open access and climate justice. This will be a hybrid event, with attendees both online and in person.

Themes could include but are not restricted to: open access, climate change, environmental and climate justice, environmental issues, climate activism, open climate data, international inequalities in climate action.

  • Talks will last 10 minutes each, with 5 minutes for questions to follow.  
  • Talks should include at least one slide as there may not be a camera for online participants to view the speaker. 
  • Talks can be delivered online (MS Teams) or in-person.

To participate, please submit a brief lightning talk outline with title and all author affiliation(s) and indicate your preference for an in-person or virtual format via the lightning talk submission form. The deadline is Friday 23 September. 

If you have any questions please contact David McElroy, d.mcelroy@bbk.ac.uk  

Submissions will be reviewed by a non-expert panel.  Submission form: Birkbeck Open Research Symposium – lightning talks submission form

This call is open to Birkbeck staff and postgraduate students, and non-Birkbeck colleagues in relevant areas.​​​​​​​

Three Minute Thesis Competition 2022

On Thursday 16 June, Birkbeck doctoral students took part in the 2022 Three Minute Thesis Competition. Meiyun Meng was the overall winner and received a £500 prize.
From left to right: Hannah Reeves (people’s choice); Carlo Palombo; Meiyun Meng (overall winner); Tom Nealon; Marie Houghton; Doyin Olorunfemi (runner up); Fengzhi Zhao.

2022 3MT Competition

On Thursday 16 June around 60 people attended the Birkbeck Three Minute Thesis Competition in the Clore Lecture Theatre. This was the fourth time the competition has been run at Birkbeck and the first time since 2019. The seven contestants displayed excellent presentational skills to convey their research in a concise and engaging manner, all managing to conclude with just a few seconds to spare. As always at Birkbeck, there was a wide range of subjects from how cross-sectional data can help cure cancer to the experience of flat sharing among the over-30s.

Winner: Meiyun Meng

After the judges had watched the candidates make their presentations, Meiyun Meng (Department of Geography) was chosen as the overall winner for her lively and engaging talk ‘Individualising life courses: Home-making of highly educated women in Shenzhen, China’. Meiyun is in her third year as a doctoral researcher in Geography.

Runner up: Doyin Olorunfemi

In addition to the overall winner, the judges awarded a £250 runner up prize to Doyin Olorunfemi (Department of Management) for her talk on ‘From Selling to Venturing’.

People’s Prize Winner

The overall winner and runner up were chosen by a panel of 3 Birkbeck experts but the audience also played a key role and were asked to use their votes to select a People’s Choice winner. This prize was awarded to Hannah Reeves (Department of Psychosocial Studies) for her talk ‘Crossbones Graveyard: remembering the dead, or breathing with them?

2022 3MT Talks

A list of all the competitors and their talks is provided below.

Doyin Olorunfemi ‘From Selling to Venturing’
Marie Houghton ‘Can home and happiness be found living in a house share after the age of 30?’
Hannah Reeves ‘Crossbones Graveyard: remembering the dead, or breathing with them?’
Meiyun Meng ‘Individualising life courses: Home-making of highly educated women in Shenzhen, China’
Fengzhi Zhao ‘A Tale of Two Cosmopolitan Shanghai(s)’
Tom Nealon ‘Inferring Time Varying Processes from Cross-Sectional Data’
Carlo Palombo ‘On the prohibition of nudity’

The PhD Network in-person Social

Our very first social since what feels like forever!

Most of us in this PhD Network have only seen and talked to each other virtually – over our shut-up and write group – and while strong bonds have been formed, it is finally time to organise the get together we have all been waiting for and quite frankly deserve.

For our new PhD cohorts, this is a great opportunity to meet some seasoned PhD students and grab as many tips and trick from them as possible! As such alumni are also welcome.

But it’s also a chance to get to know the group and who we are, and what the PhD Network does and how it can help you in your studies. PhD study can be very isolating and lonely and it takes a while to navigate all the hurdles that will inevitably come your way – we all know of this, trialled through it – but thankfully together, we can get through it in one whole-ish piece 🙂

I have chosen Coram’s fields as our location as they run a fully facilitated and supervised under 5’s playgroup from 9:30am- noon weekdays – it gives our PhD parents the option to join without worrying if they can or cannot bring children etc

It is a really nice space, with a cafe, and lots of lovely gardens.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure a budget for this picnic – so please do bring your own food and drinks. We will have a large blanket and some bits and bobbins to nibble but nothing substantial. I hope to see lots of you there. I am -fingers crossed – hoping for good weather and I know I will have good company 🙂