Bachelor of Fine Arts


The Bachelor of Fine Arts is a prestigious qualification that will give you a broad knowledge in visual arts, multimedia and design before you specialise in your studio subject of choice.

The four-year degree is based within purpose-built facilities that include on-campus art galleries, dedicated studios and workshops. Students enjoy being part of a supportive community of practitioners.

Features of the Bachelor of Fine Arts at UC

  • First art school in New Zealand and one of the oldest in the English-speaking world
  • Teaching staff are artists, designers and curators of international standing
  • On-campus art gallery and studio spaces
  • Enjoy a welcoming community of like-minded students, enthusiasts, professionals, staff and alumni.

Entry requirements

Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

Some degrees have additional entry and course requirements; please check the Regulations for the Bachelor of Fine Arts for full details.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Specific entry requirements

To apply for admission to the Intermediate Year (first year) of the BFA directly from school, you need to:

  • achieve Visual Arts 3.3 (NCEA Level 3) in preferably two practical art subjects from design, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture
  • have at least 14 credits in each of two other NCEA Level 3 subjects (that are not practical art subjects) if possible.

For those who have University Entrance but have not achieved two NCEA Level 3 practical art subjects you should make a submission of work as part of your application. See 'How to apply' section below for more information. 

Qualification structure and duration

The Bachelor of Fine Arts requires a total of 480 points: 

  • Fine Arts Intermediate (120 points)
  • Specialist studio subject (270 points)
  • Art history courses (45 points)
  • Courses from the BA or other degrees (75 points). 

The Fine Arts Intermediate Year consists of FINT103 Drawing and Methods and 30 points of Art History and Theory. FINT103 provides an introduction to the advancing studio specialisations and includes two studio electives.

In the second, third and fourth years of the BFA, you will specialise in one subject. On passing the Intermediate Year, most students are able to gain a place in one of their two studio electives. However, your grade in FINT103 will influence this.

You may choose to build on the Art History and Theory taken in first year or pursue a variety of courses as you continue your study.


Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Fine Arts

Year 1
100 Level
100 Level
Year 2
FINT201 in chosen studio subject
200 Level
Year 3
FINT301 in chosen studio subject
200 Level
Year 4
FINT401 in chosen studio subject
    Specialisation in one studio subject
    Introduction to all specialist studio studies
    Required Art History and Theory Courses
    Other undergraduate degree courses

Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points or more.

Double Degrees

It is possible to combine a Fine Arts degree with the study of another degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. If you are considering a double degree you should get advice from a College of Arts Student Advisor or the Liaison Office.

Find out more information about Double degrees.

Subjects and courses

UC offers five subjects areas for studio specialisation in the Bachelor of Fine Arts:

How to apply

Entry to the Intermediate Year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts is limited. In addition to the Application to Enrol, you need to compete the Application for fine arts intermediate course form. The deadline for this form to apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016 is 15 November 2015. 

You are encouraged to submit the form as early as possible before the due date and to visit the School of Fine Arts before making your application.

Examples of work

In addition to the course form you should also provide 12 A4 colour photographs or colour photocopies from each NCEA folio. You should include three examples of work from each of the folio panels plus images of three additional works – preferably in drawing – which will relate to the other examples.

If you have achieved only one practical art subject at NCEA Level 3, you will need to provide an equivalent portfolio of work in a second subject.

Find out more about how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

Further study

Postgraduate options include:

A UC Fine Arts degree is accepted as an entry qualification to postgraduate studies in other tertiary institutions in New Zealand and overseas. UC graduates have been accepted into the best graduate programmes in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, the United States and Australia.

Career opportunities

Numerous exhibitions are organised by the School throughout the year, allowing students to showcase their work to multiple audiences.

Recent UC graduates have gained employment as professional artists, art gallery directors, photojournalists, commercial photographers, film directors, designers, consultants, art conservators, illustrators, fashion designers, curators, art critics, art historians, graphic designers, lecturers and art teachers.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Fine Arts.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Fine Arts.

For more information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students) or visit the Liaison Office’s course planning page (new students), or a College of Arts Student Advisor (advancing students).