Fine Arts


Bachelor of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours
Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorship
Master of Fine Arts

Fine Arts studio


Why study Fine Arts at UC?

The School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury provides a stimulating environment that will allow you to flourish creatively. The first art school in New Zealand, it is one of the oldest in the English-speaking world. School of Fine Arts staff are a highly qualified and experienced community of artists, film makers and designers of international standing.

UC graduates have been accepted into prestigious Fine Arts postgraduate programmes overseas and many, such as photographer Boyd Webb, artist Bill Culbert, filmmaker and screenwriter Vincent Ward and painters Rita Angus, Shane Cotton, Seraphine Pick and Dick Frizzell, have made notable contributions to New Zealand's artistic and cultural life and achieved acclaim internationally.

Fine Arts students at UC work in purpose-built studios, workrooms, darkrooms and computer labs, and have access to technician workshops and the Ilam Campus Gallery. Fine Arts programmes revolve around basic teaching disciplines which are divided up into five specialisations:

Entry requirements

There is strong competition for places in the Intermediate Year (first year) of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) – see the degree page for information on entry requirements and how to apply.


100-level courses

The Fine Arts Intermediate (first year) consists of FINA 101 What is Practice?FINA 102 Communities of Practice, and FINA 103 Studio Practice as well as any 30 points of Art History and Theory courses.

Fine Arts students choose the subject of their advancing studio courses on the basis of experience and grades gained from the Intermediate year. On passing the Fine Arts Intermediate, most students are able to gain places in one of their two studio electives. The choice of some students may be limited, however, by their grades.

200-level and beyond

For the next three years of the degree, students specialise in either Film, Graphic Design, Painting, Photography, or Sculpture and also complete a total of six further courses from other undergraduate degrees, including at least one 200-level course in Art History and Theory and at least one further course above 100-level.

Some students choose to build on the 30 points of Art History and Theory taken for the Intermediate Year and others choose to pursue a variety of courses, such as languages, Management, Sociology or Philosophy, to gain the broadest possible general education to supplement their practical education in Fine Arts and design.

Further study

The Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours degree involves a year of further study in the graduate's specialist area or practice and a research project. UC also offers a Master of Fine Arts degree, which requires the production of a major body of practical work. 

The Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorship is a professional, one-year qualification for graduates with a background in Arts or Fine Arts and some practical experience in art curatorship. 

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 Britain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, the USA and Australia. 

Career opportunities

Alongside the creative and practical skills learned, Fine Arts graduates develop excellent skills in organisation and time management during their four years of self-motivated study. These skills prepare Fine Arts graduates for a wide range of employment opportunities.

In particular, graduates who have taken courses in Photography, Film and Graphic Design have clear career prospects in rapidly expanding industries in these areas. Other Fine Arts graduates have access to a wide range of vocations within an expanding art world both in New Zealand and overseas. Numerous exhibitions and events are organised by the School of Fine Arts throughout the year, allowing students to showcase their work to multiple audiences.

Recent graduates have gained employment as professional artists, art gallery directors, photo-journalists, commercial photographers, film directors, designers, consultants, art conservators, illustrators, fashion designers, 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

School of Fine Arts

Phone +64 3 369 3377

Fine Arts building, Block 2 - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Jessica Langtry

Jessica Langtry

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

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...'