Master of Fine Arts
This degree is suitable for you if you want to become a professional arts practitioner. You will carry out original research culminating with a public exhibition and dissertation.
2 Years Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
2 Years Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
What You Study
You will study
The Dunedin School of Art and the School of Design at Otago Polytechnic consist of a community of several hundred people united by an abiding interest in material making and theoretical research. As artists, designers and scholars we are a very diverse community with differing backgrounds, languages and cultural contexts. Our environment is lively and challenging, making for good art and a rich life.
The Master of Fine Arts programme offers you a space in which ideas can be manufactured through processes of making and writing undertaken in close conversation. It is a space in which you can test yourself against a rigorous community of peers and supervisors; a space within which you can reach out to the wider national and international community and to professional opportunities for your future. The programme invites you into this space by offering possibilities for creative thinking, applied research and networking with members of our international community of contemporary artists and other cultural workers. The experience of being in a postgraduate programme of distinction and high expectations will expose you to debate and different perspectives, which contribute to a productive process of learning during your studies.
From application onwards, you work towards four integrated goals: a public exhibition, a related dissertation, documentation of work over the period of your study and an oral presentation of work in the exhibition.
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. You 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 will be appointed for you. The Postgraduate Coordinator helps 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.
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 the Master of Fine Arts 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 and career opportunities
Dunedin is a city with many exhibition facilities ranging from small informal galleries to large, public spaces like the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The Master of Fine Arts opens doors for exhibitions and a number of fine regional galleries offer more choice as you will typically exhibit several times before your final work is shown in public.
The Dunedin School of Art has played a part in visual arts education since its establishment in 1870. It was the first art school in New Zealand and is the world's southernmost college of art. 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.
Te Reo Māori
If you indicate a preference in your application, you may use Te Reo Māori in dissertations, to submit documentation and/or to present orally in studio practice. Otherwise, only English is used within this programme.
Further study options
This qualification provides you with the necessary degree to pursue a Doctor of Visual Arts (DVA), a Doctor of Fine Arts (DocFA) and/or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in New Zealand or overseas.
You will participate in a weekly public seminar and postgraduate workshop (12.30-5.30pm) where you will have the chance to interact with your fellow students. A one hour weekly meeting with your supervisor(s) will also give you the opportunity to hone your ideas and seek specialist advice in a more intimate environment. The rest of your time will be spent in self-directed study in your studio alongside your postgraduate peers, producing the necessary work to successfully complete the qualification. The School provides around the clock access to its facilities, allowing you the flexibility to study alongside part-time employment or other commitments.
English Language requirements
If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.
Project proposal, portfolio and referee reports
Research Project Proposal
The research project proposal is an important part of your application and should reflect your previous and current practice.
An introduction of approximately 500 words should provide a clear indication of the key areas of focus in the proposed research project and should demonstrate integration of theory and studio practice. Please provide:
Approximately 1000 words should focus on the studio component of the project. Please include:
Approximately 700 words should focus on the written component of the project. Please include:
Please provide the name of three people who can be contacted to supply a referee's report if required. For example, tutors, colleagues or a head of school. Referee's details should include the name of the referee, the position of the referee and their contact details. A referee should be someone you know who is able to comment on your ability to complete a long-term project requiring both independent and collaborative work.
You should provide approximately 15 images of work (including images of installations where applicable). Each image should be numbered and correspond with an annotated list including information as to title, date, size, materials and position within your practice. Images should illustrate a range of work as well as development over a period of time. If available, you should attach exhibition catalogues, reviews, articles or any other material relevant to your work.
Sending us your proposal, names of referees and portfolio
If you need to send us your documents in a physical format, please send them to:
Dunedin School of Art
Please note: While all reasonable care will be taken, Otago Polytechnic does not accept responsibility for damage or loss of portfolio material.
This programme is distinguished by relatively small class size and an attentive focus on each individual project, therefore admission to the qualification is competitive. Applications from eligible candidates will be considered on their individual merit. The annotated portfolio and research project proposal outlining studio and written components, and the articulation of links between these, are central to selection for admission.
If you’re a domestic student and this is your first time doing tertiary study in New Zealand (over 60 credits at Level 3 or higher), you may be able to get your first year of tuition fees for free.
All the details and criteria are on the Fees Free website and you can check whether you’re going to be able to access funding by entering your National Student Number.
If you can access it, we’ll organise your fees with the Tertiary Education Commission when you’re enrolled to study with us. This funding doesn’t include additional costs or living costs.
Material costs vary according to individual projects. As an indication, you may borrow up to $1,000 in addition to any student allowance for course-related costs.
Student Services Fee
For most students, your tuition fee shown above includes a Student Services Fee – also known as the Student Levy. This compulsory fee covers your access to the student services we offer. This cost is tailored depending on how you're studying.
The tuition fees shown above are approximate only. There may be a slight fee increase per year once Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) rules and guidelines are applied. These fees also don’t include additional costs or living costs.
The items listed below should be completed and included in your application. You are welcome to seek assistance from the Postgraduate Coordinator.
Alexandra Kennedy, Postgraduate Programme Coordinator
A change for 2023 enrolments
When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, 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. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.
Get in touch
0800 762 786
International +64 3 477 3014