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 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, filmmakers and curators of international standing
  • On-campus art gallery and studio spaces
  • 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.

Entry requirements

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 Visual Arts 3.3 (NCEA Level 3) in preferably two of the following practical art subjects: design, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture; 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.

For those who have University Entrance but have not achieved two NCEA Level 3 practical art subjects (or equivalent in another framework) 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)
  • your specialist studio subject (270 points)
  • Art History and Theory courses (45 points)
  • courses from the Bachelor of Arts 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 also 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
In chosen studio subject
200 Level
Year 3
In chosen studio subject
200 Level
Year 4
In chosen studio subject
    Introduction to all specialist studio studies
    Required Art History and Theory courses
    Specialisation in one studio subject
    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 and apply by 15 November 2016. 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 subject 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 (or equivalent in another framework), you will need to provide an equivalent portfolio of work in a second subject.

For more information on entry requirements and the application process for first year go to the School of Fine Arts

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

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 information on staff, facilities and resources visit the School of Fine Arts.

For more general 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).

Clara Wells

Clara Wells

'Filmmaking combines so many things that have been a part of my life so I get a real sense of satisfaction from my work...'

Jessica Langtry

Jessica Langtry

'I wanted to do something I am passionate for and have that support from friends and family to do it...'