Bachelor of Fine Arts
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) 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 makes use of purpose-built facilities and 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, filmmakers and curators of international standing
- Facilities include an on-campus art gallery, dedicated studios and workshops
- Numerous exhibitions are organised by the School of Fine Arts throughout the year, allowing students to showcase their work to multiple audiences
- Enjoy a welcoming community of like-minded students, enthusiasts, professionals, staff and alumni.
Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. Domestic applicants over 20 who do not hold University Entrance, or equivalent, may gain admission by providing evidence of their ability to complete tertiary study successfully. For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications. This degree has additional entry requirements – please see below.
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 NCEA Level 3 Visual Arts in one or more subjects; and
- have at least 14 credits in each of two other NCEA Level 3 subjects (that are not practical art subjects) is also strongly recommended; or
- the equivalent standards in other qualification frameworks.
All applicants also need to submit a letter of introduction and portfolio. 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 Year (120 points)
- your specialist studio subject (270 points)
- courses from the Bachelor of Arts or other degrees (including some compulsory Art History and Theory or Cinema Studies courses) (75 points).
The Fine Arts Intermediate Year consists of FINA 101 What is Practice?, FINA 102 Communities of Practice, and FINA 103 Studio Practice as well as 30 points of 100-level Art History and Theory courses.
On passing the Intermediate Year, most students are able to gain a place in one of their two studio electives. However, your grades in the Intermediate Year will influence this. In the second, third and fourth years of the BFA, you will specialise in one subject.
Note: Students that have enrolled in the BFA before 2017 will have a different degree structure and requirements – see 'Students enrolled before 2017' below.
Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Fine Arts
Introduction to all specialist studio studies
Required Art History and Theory courses
Specialisation in one studio subject
Courses from the Bachelor of Arts schedule
(2) Students specialising in Film or Photography may take either Art History and Theory or Cinema Studies 200-level courses.
(3) Students must complete 30 points of 300-level ARTH courses to be eligible for entry into Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at fourth year.
Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points (or more).
Students who began a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016 will follow a different structure - see www.canterbury.ac.nz/regulations/award/bfa_regs.shtml
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 studio specialisations in the Bachelor of Fine Arts:
Students enrolled before 2017
Students enrolled in the BFA prior to 2017 will graduate with the BFA regulations and degree structure from the year they were enrolled in:
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 complete and supply by 15 November 2016:
- the Application for fine arts intermediate course form
- a letter of introduction
- a portfolio of work**.
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. The School welcomes applications from 14 October.
** Portfolio of work
In addition to the application form, you should also provide a portfolio of recently completed art and/or design work. This is your opportunity to demonstrate:
- Evidence of your competency and ability in artmaking – so please make sure you include your best work. We also need to see aspects of your methodology; examples of preliminary sketches are important here.
- Your best possible work presentation. There are a number of formatting requirements for the supply of your work portfolio – please see the application form for details.
- Your ability to express your thinking in a written statement. This is your chance to demonstrate a critical understanding of how the work operates, the decisions you made, and what you are trying to address through your work.
For more information on the application process for the Intermediate Year go to the School of Fine Arts.
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.
# From 2020, the Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours will be offered as a final-year extension programme for high-achieving undergraduate students. If students meet the criteria, they will be able to enrol in an additional research course in their fourth year. This will replace the current postgraduate qualification.
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.
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).