Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts

If you already hold a degree and would like to develop your fine arts skills, this qualification offers you the chance to carry out an intensive course of study in your chosen discipline.

About the programme

Artists create the beautiful, interesting and challenging things that make our environments unique and make a vital contribution to contemporary life. 

If you already hold a degree but would like to develop your fine art skills, this programme offers the opportunity to carry out an intensive personalised course of study. The skills gained through an art qualification are highly valued in a huge variety of industries including education, design, management and marketing. You may become a practicing artist in various disciplines and media, or consider a diverse and exciting range of careers including an Illustrator, Art Therapist, Researcher, Artists' Agent, Photojournalist or Colour Consultant.

Embrace the opportunity to specialise in Ceramics, Digital and Moving Image, Jewellery-Making and Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture or Textiles. Typically, you would work in one of these areas but interdisciplinary work may be approved. Within the Dunedin School of Art, there is a strong focus on individual supervision and student-centred learning supported by an active community of artists to enhance professional development.  You will benefit from the nationally unique workshop facilities and expertise of lecturers who have a diverse range of approaches and understandings in the fine arts and design.

Studying part-time 

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

Studio disciplines

Our programme is structured so that 75% of your time is spent in the studio, 12.5% in Art History and Theory (semester one) and 12.5% in Professional Practice (semester two). If you enter the programme mid-year, you will reverse that sequence.

A team of advisors will help you work out a pathway of art study customised to your requirements.

You will likely choose a specialty from within a particular field, however, a programme of multi-disciplinary study may also be considered.

To complement the development of studio skills, you also take Theory and History of Art, Drawing and Independent Studio, depending on your entry-level and prior experience.

Below is a summary of our studio disciplines:

Study Ceramics

Study Ceramics as a contemporary art practice at Otago Polytechnic - the largest ceramics department in New Zealand. You will benefit from an emphasis on hands-on experimentation in clay making workshops. Develop individual projects which explore ceramics as a medium with its own language, skills and history. The department has wood, salt, electric and gas kilns, electric wheels and online research facilities.

Study Printmaking

Our internationally renowned Printmaking Department is well established and is one of the leading departments of its kind in New Zealand. You will work and learn in its spacious studios and well-equipped workshops, designed to enable students, staff and professional artists to study and practice a comprehensive range of printmaking processes and related techniques. Experienced and award-winning staff members monitor these programmes, which help you research, explore and develop creative concepts.

Study Sculpture

Develop a sculptural language through studio workshops focusing on drawing, form and spatial analysis. This department is equipped to international standards with separate workshops for wood, metal and plastics fabrication, modelling and casting studio and specialist facilities for ceramic shell bronze casting, metal forging, vacuum forming and spray painting. An emphasis is placed on the philosophical understanding of historical approaches and the means of the development of different formats in individual mediums.

Study Electronic Arts

Specialise in Electronics, which inhabit a constantly shifting location in art and media practice. You may choose to explore 2D and 3D animation, film, installation, electronics, projection and online media and audio/video production. Through the study of contemporary practice, you will engage with media arts and reflect on their historical and contemporary position in the art world.

Study Textiles

Major in textiles in a visual arts context, examining the value of cloth and its relationship to the body, different genders and classes and material culture. The field of textile practice can encompass many approaches such as sculptural, 2D and site-specific artworks. We specialise in print and construction processes that employ a variety of surface treatments, such as screen-print methodologies using pigment ink, dye, discharge and burnout applications, manual and digital embroidery and 3D sewing.

Study Photography

Gain a solid foundation in the practical and theoretical components of black and white, colour and alternative photographic processes. Use and explore a range of equipment and techniques in our well-designed facility. Understand the principles and history of photography as you study different photographic approaches, such as the antiquarian, formalist, documentary, fabricated or manipulated. The learning environment is both supportive and challenging, incorporating discussion, dialogue and critical debate.

Study Painting

Here is an opportunity to develop your artwork so it is relevant to today's society and international and national contemporary practice. That is the focus of this specialty, although you will also be encouraged to investigate painting discoveries and methodologies in recent centuries. Each stage of the Bachelor of Visual Arts and the Diploma in Arts (Painting) programme present an organised and measured understanding of the techniques, theories and approaches available to the artist today.

Study Jewellery-making and Metalsmithing

Develop your artistic eye and practical skills with the understanding that the fundamental reference for jewellery is the human body. Jewellery uses a visual language based on interaction, communication and contact, and maybe expressive and intimate or aggressively provocative. Art, objects and adornment for the body use an unlimited palette of materials from precious metal and stone to recycled waste. 

Health and safety

You will complete Health and safety checklists for specific hazards in your courses. During your study, you will use a range of technical equipment and chemical substances. If you have known allergies or reactions to materials, please indicate these in your application so we can help you into appropriate courses.

Further study options

Choose to enrol in our Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours)Master of Visual Arts or Master of Fine Arts to further your artistic practice.

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.