Postgraduate Certificate in Visual Arts

If you want a taster of postgraduate study in visual arts, this programme is for you. You will develop studio work and write an essay on an aspect of related research methodology.

About the programme

Advance your art study without committing to a lengthy qualification.

If you are seeking initial engagement in postgraduate research, this full-time, one-semester Postgraduate Certificate in art is for you and will allow you to study in a structured learning environment. A postgraduate qualification in the Visual Arts can lead to an exciting and diverse range of professions and the skills you develop are transferable to a wide variety of employment situations. Use this programme as a bridge into further postgraduate studies to increase your career prospects; successful completion of this qualification will allow you to staircase into the second semester of the Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts.

Embrace the opportunity to develop and produce a body of critically-engaged studio work and to write a set essay on an aspect of related research methodology. Enjoy the chance to work within Otago Polytechnic's nationally unique range of workshop facilities and benefit from the Dunedin School of Art's focus on individual supervision and student-centred learning, supported by an active community of artists, to enhance professional development.

Studying part-time

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


Further develop your undergraduate experience of the history and contemporary conventions of your chosen field, within appropriate learning contexts at a postgraduate level. Create a systematic proposal supported by studio evidence that forecasts a projected exhibition project. Your proposal will be reinforced by relevant research methodologies.

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 as a pre-eminent college of art. It was the first art school in New Zealand and is the world's southernmost tertiary arts institution. 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

This semester-long study includes course work on research methodologies with the completion of a 2,000-word essay relevant to a body of critically-engaged studio work.

Topic Level Credits
Studio Practice 1A 8 45
Research Methodologies 8 15
Total   60

Further study options

If you enjoy this programme and want to continue your study after successfully completing it, you can transfer into the second semester of our Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts (another six months of study).

Alternatively, if you achieve an overall grade of B (70%) or higher, you’ll meet the minimum academic entry requirements* for our Master of Visual Arts (another year of study).

*entry requirement subject to final approval

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.