Festival of Postgraduate Research 2020

The Festival of Postgraduate Research has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis. Apologies for any disappointment. We hope to provide further information when the situation is more stable.

PGR festival banner


Join us at our fourth Festival of Postgraduate Research on 01 April when doctoral students and supervisors from across the university come together in celebration of PhD research at Brighton.

To get the ball rolling, we’re inviting doctoral students to click the buttons above and start thinking about entering one or more (or all!) of our four competitions. The competitions range from the light-hearted and easy-to-enter to those requiring more thought and time-investment. We’re runnning workshops on 04 March to support students interested in participating in 3MT and our research poster competition (click links to book; log in required).

If you’re rarely on campus and can’t make the festival itself, you can still submit to our research poster and photo competitions. We’ll also be running our #tweetyourthesis competition nearer the time. With this breadth of competitions, we hope our annual celebration offers doctoral researchers from all disciplines, whether full or part-time, in year 1 or year 6, the chance to participate in some aspect of the festival.

This festival itself is open to all members of the university. The afternoon will feature talks, displays of research, drop-in sessions, presentations and competitions. We’ll also be running an event specifically for Brighton undergrads and postgrads who want to find out more about doctoral study at Brighton.

We’ll be updating this page as we build our festival programme so do check back.


Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2020

The Festival of Postgraduate Research has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis. Apologies for any disappointment. We hope to provide further information when the situation is more stable.

Competition details in brief


Deadline: Registration: Monday 23 March 2020, 10.00hr


In front of the audience at the Festival of Postgraduate Reseach, Wed 01 April, Huxley, Moulsecoomb. Our judges’ winner will take home £400 and go through to the national 3MT competition hosted by research professionals, Vitae. If you reach the national final, you will be required to present in Birmingham on 14 September 2020 where you’ll compete for Vitae’s top prize of £3000.


Explain your thesis to an intelligent, non-specialist audience in three minutes or less, using only one slide.


To develop those all important research communication and presentation skills; to identify the essence and importance of your research (a huge help for writing abstracts and summarising your research at viva and beyond); to raise your research profile; and to compete for cash prizes and recognition at both local and potentially national level.

Competition details in full

About 3MT

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2008. Since then, 3MT competitions have been held at over 600 universities around the world. In the UK, the national competition is hosted by Vitae.

The 3MT challenge aims to cultivate students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills.

2020 marks the fourth year of 3MT at Brighton and the competition is undoubtedly the hightlight of our annual Festival of Postgraduate Research. Audience members tell us how much they enjoy watching this event and learning about our doctoral students’ fascinating research. Topics to date have ranged from anabolic steroids to Saudi women through to ocean cruising. Participants too tell us how much they gain from 3MT. The process of re-focusing to find the heart of the project after being so close to it for so long has proved to be immensely valuable. Similarly, crafting a polished script designed to communicate a project without dumbing it down develops skills to stand any researcher in good stead both during and beyond the PhD.


Judges’ Prize

People’s Choice Prize

1st: £400
Runner up: £200

How to enter


  1. Your online registration form for the Brighton competiton by Monday 23 March 2020, 10.00hr (button at top of page)

Registration forms received after this date will not be accepted as they will miss our internal deadline for accompanying 3MT print materials.

Competition details

Doctoral students who have not had their viva by the time of the local competition (01 April) are eligible to participate.

Click for judging criteria

Click for competition rules

Need help with your presentation?

Preparing for the Three Minute Thesis (Doctoral College PRDP workshop)
Wednesday 04 March 2020, 14.00-16.00, Cockcroft 808, Moulsecoomb campus

This 3MT workshop will help you to identify and communicate the essence of your research; understand how to address the needs of a non-specialist audience; acquire succinct communication skills and build your confidence in presenting. The session is run by Dr Ross English who has considerable experience in delivering 3MT training and is a regular judge in the UK’s 3MT semi-final round.

Book your workshop place now

Our first 3MT participants in 2017 L-R: Patricia Soares, Lujain Mirza, Bahar Esfahani, Madeleine Conaghan, Qiaoyi Wang, Myrsini Athinaiou, Majed Al-Jefri

Working as a PhD Tutor with The Brilliant Club

Are you interested in teaching while doing your PhD? Through our partnership with The Brilliant Club, several University of Brighton PhD students undertook paid placements in state schools during 2018-19. Their participation in The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme offered them a unique opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience while helping increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds who progress to university. If you’re interested in becoming a PhD tutor in 2019-20, come along to our Brilliant Club information session on 8th October 2019, Edward St.

Below, Esther Omotola Ayoola, PhD student and South Coast DTP studentship recipient in the School of Applied Social Science, talks about her experiences of becoming a PhD tutor during her first year at Brighton, and what that means to her as a Black academic who grew up without any scholarly role models.

Becoming a PhD Tutor
Esther Omotola Ayoola

Growing up I didn’t know a single person pursuing or in possession of a PhD.

I always thought that a doctor was someone who gave me injections and scribbled incomprehensible notes to their friends at the pharmacy, before making my mum and I deliver them in exchange for sweets that tasted hideous. Imagine my confusion when I learnt that there were different kinds of doctor; ones that cut people open, ones that sent rockets into space, ones that had heaps of knowledge about different people and places and others still who were just really interested in how people’s brains worked. Back then, I never cared about the fame and fortune that everyone with the title ‘Dr’ seemed to have, I just knew that I wanted to be a doctor of everything. So with one hand on my GCSE biology textbook, I vowed that one day, I would become a doctor in some capacity. There was only ever one issue, as a Black girl from a North London council estate, I didn’t actually know anyone who had achieved what I was planning and so without any guidance or role models in sight, I pushed the idea to the back of my mind.

The memory of that moment lay dormant for over a decade until October 2018 when during my PhD induction an initiative entitled The Brilliant Club caught both my eye and my ear. ‘You can gain teaching experience, make a difference to young people, have an opportunity to share your research, network with other PhDs and get paid.’ AND GET PAID?! I only realised just how convinced I was as those three words echoed around my head in a Mr-Krabs-like fashion. They had an assessment day coming up at the University of Sussex that was open to Brighton students and I thought why not? I picked an area of my research that I thought would be interesting to teenagers (yes – this was as hard as it sounds) and used that as a basis for the task I would demonstrate at my assessment. During my interview, I asked more questions than my assessors did, primarily to relieve my apprehension regarding how I would balance teaching and research, as well as being subconsciously triggered and intrigued by the term ‘under-represented groups’ and wanting to know exactly what this meant. Fortunately, I was met with smiles and discussion that actually felt genuine and I remember leaving the room feeling confident and having enjoyed the assessment experience.

Image of the front cover of Esther's course handbook, Teading Merky WatersOn hearing that I was successful at the interview stage and was being offered a role, it immediately began to sink in that I would actually need to manage this role alongside being a full-time PhD (YIKES!). I threw myself into creating my course handbook whenever I wasn’t working on my research plan (which, by the way, felt like hardly ever), and was kept sane by the amount of support and encouragement that my Programme Officers at The Brilliant Club gave me via email. I was also extremely relieved when I attended the regional training day and 100 other tutors ranging from first year PhDs to actual doctors, two-years post completion, were undertaking the same role as me.

On the day of my first tutorial, I remember feeling a tinge of nervousness. Not only was this my first time teaching a self-designed course, I had travelled to the University of Cambridge for the first time in my life and was launching my programme and meeting my students for the first time ever too. It turns out that my students were much more nervous than I was and that made me feel much better! During the tutorial, we discussed why the Tale of Brexit is the most boring bedtime story ever told and how the various major diasporas in London came to be. We also talked about what it means to be ‘mentally healthy’, how the mental wellbeing of people who have migrated to the UK might be affected by the social and economic policies that the British government has created, and how many first-generation, BAME young people use Grime music as a means of documenting their life histories and socio-political struggles.

Reflecting on my first year as a PhD researcher and a PhD tutor, I am surprised and humbled not only by how much I have grown in my respective roles, but by the fact that I was able to engage in invaluable debates regarding the political and psychosocial impact of migration in the UK with 13- and 14-year olds. I am also slightly embarrassed at how shocked I was seeing them dive deep into academic content that barely made any sense to me, or how their logic and reasoning skills showed such little bias, allowing them to think across key disciplines simultaneously but seamlessly. Through this role, I have learned never to underestimate anyone, because when provided with the opportunity and the knowledge, PhD research is within the reach of more people than you would think. This experience has also completely transformed the way I see my research, causing me to think like my students and ask questions that had never previously occurred to me due to the academic bias I have gained from being in formal education for what feels like eons.

I find myself consistently talking about my role with The Brilliant Club and I have come to feel that it is somewhat definitive of my PhD identity in a very particular way. Although it is challenging at times when I have deadlines, the feeling of pride I get when my students submit their 2000-word essays and attend their graduation ceremony with their parents watching is second to none. Though there are multiple benefits to being a PhD tutor with The Brilliant Club, for me personally, I am compelled and inspired by just one – none of my students will ever have to say the words: ‘Growing up I didn’t know a single person pursuing or in possession of a PhD.’


To find out more about Esther, follow her on Twitter or check out her LinkedIn profile.

Purple Brilliant Club logoFind out more about more about becoming a PhD tutor with the Scholars Programme.

Our partnership with The Brilliant Club is made possible with support from Santander.

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