Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours)

Ideal if you want to develop research skills in studio and theory, or pursue further postgraduate study. By the end of the programme, you will produce a body of critically engaged studio work, supported by a conceptual research paper.

About the programme

Passionate about art and eager to improve your existing abilities? Want the chance to showcase your creative work and further your career prospects?

The programme provides you with the opportunity to further develop your undergraduate experience of the history and contemporary conventions of your field. Gain a variety of transferable skills and become an effective team worker who can take risks and think laterally to solve problems. Better understanding and advanced learning, including research skills in studio and theory, will present you with higher level employment prospects in education, or the arts industry and management sectors. Alternatively, you may become a practising artist in various disciplines and media.

This research-focused visual arts programme is also ideal if you are a high achiever who intends to pursue further postgraduate study. Extend your ability to work within the Visual Arts in a way that demonstrates a systematic engagement with contemporary thinking in your chosen area. This will culminate in an exhibition and related text that portrays your intellectual rigour and professional expertise. Benefit from our unique range of workshop facilities, the guidance and support from highly-experienced lecturers and the School's focus on individual supervision and student-centred learning.

Studying part-time 

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer this programme part-time over two years.


By the end of this programme, you'll be able to produce a proposal-based body of critically-engaged studio work and complete an extended essay of 5,000 words as a conceptual research paper contextualising the studio work produced.

Studio Practice

The Dunedin School of Art has eight areas of studio practice: Ceramics, Electronic Arts, Jewellery & Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture and Textiles. The School of Design has four specialist areas: Communication, Fashion, Interior and Product Design. Postgraduate candidates may evolve unexpected relationships between traditional subjects or create new syntheses from them.  As the organisation of your programme is shaped by your own proposal and desired end result, this qualification may be completed in one discipline, or across several.


A studio and a theory supervisor are appointed for each candidate. The Postgraduate Coordinator will help you to interface with staff and other students at the School of Art and the School of Design and with the arts community within Dunedin and elsewhere.

Group work

Regular studio critiques and more formal presentation of work during seminars and research workshops provide opportunity for feedback, discussion and debate.

Visiting artists and designers

An international visiting artists and designers programme feeds into your postgraduate studies and contributes to a community of practice, currency of ideas and valuable contacts.

Studio space and facilities

You are allocated a studio space and have around-the-clock access to project-related facilities. The Dunedin School of Art has consistently focused on the development of excellence in the material aspects of art-making; it is now one of the best-equipped art schools in New Zealand and is fully supported by fine technical staff. The School of Design is recognised as being at the forefront of design education in New Zealand and features include the best-equipped advanced prototyping facility in Australasia.

Exhibition opportunities

Dunedin is a city with many exhibition facilities ranging from small informal galleries to large, public spaces like the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. A number of fine regional galleries offer further exhibition spaces.

The Dunedin School of Art has played a part in visual arts education since its establishment in 1870. It was the first in New Zealand and the world's southernmost school of art and, under the helm of Con Hutton followed by Gordon Tovey, it developed a legacy of academic excellence and artistic individuality. Over the years the school has attracted such students as Colin McCahon, Anne Hamblett, Doris Lusk and Lisa Walker; more recent graduates include Rachel Rakena who exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2008 and Emma Bugden who became director of ArtSpace Auckland in 2008.

Individuals choose the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic for its resource competitiveness, quality of teaching and supervision and its sense of community. Our points of difference are our interest in an integrated theory/studio learning environment and our ability to retain well-equipped workshops in all technical areas with appropriate technical support. Our position within a supportive Polytechnic enables this.

Our graduates work in all fields of art, often complementing their own practice with curatorial work, teaching, public art projects, design projects or work in the arts access field. The skills they learn are transferable to a wide variety of employment situations.

Programme structure

The two semesters operate in conjunction to build from semester one - in which you develop a body of studio work along with a draft essay of 3,000 words for critical feedback - through to semester two - at the end of which you successfully complete the body of studio work and also extend the essay to a length of 5,000 words. In this programme, writing and studio work generate a single project outcome/grade. 




Studio Project  Part One






Studio Project Part Two



Programme total


Further study options

Expand your career options further by studying towards the Master of Fine Arts.

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.