Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts

The perfect opportunity to undertake practical and theory-based guided art research. Develop and display mastery of the professional, technical and conceptual skills through an original exhibition and associated writing. The Master of Visual Arts is a logical extension to this programme if you decide to continue your study journey.


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus

What You Study


This programme provides you with the opportunity to further develop your undergraduate experience of the history and contemporary conventions of your chosen field, within appropriate learning contexts at a postgraduate level.

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 presentations of work during seminars and research workshops provide opportunities 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, the 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 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 art access field. The skills they learn are transferable to a wide variety of employment situations.

Programme structure

Semester one includes coursework on research methodologies with the completion of a 2,000-word essay relevant to a body of critically-engaged studio work.

Semester two builds on semester one leading to further development of the studio work and the completion of a 3,000-word essay on related contemporary practices. 

Semester One Level Credits
Studio Practice 1A   45
Research Methodologies   15
Semester Two    
Studio Practice 1B   45
Contextual Studies   15
Total   120

Further study options

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

Alternatively, you could choose to pursue our Master of Fine Arts (another two years of study).

*entry requirement subject to final approval


Your workload

You will participate in a weekly public seminar and postgraduate workshop (12.30 pm-5.30 pm) 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.


Entry requirements

  • You must have completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts or equivalent qualification at a bachelor's level or any other undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline.
  • Exceptional applicants not meeting the entry requirements but with appropriate documented professional experience may also be considered.
  • You must submit an annotated portfolio, curriculum vitae and a project proposal. The portfolio must be no larger than 2MB. See portfolio section below.
  • Selection for admission includes an interview.
  • If you do not hold the above qualifications, you must demonstrate appropriate ability through a portfolio and associated writings which will be approved by the Postgraduate Admissions Committee.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet the entry requirements. 

We will be taking applications for a February 2023 start until 27 January 2023. Please submit all your materials by this date through the application portal.

Postgraduate interview dates 
We will schedule in-person interviews on Wednesday 8 February for those in Dunedin. If you can't get to Dunedin, we will organise a time for you.
English Language requirements

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Your portfolio

Your application should contain the following:

  1. A curriculum vitae of no more than two pages which lists the relevant qualifications and previous exhibiting histories and references or includes any reviews or responses which are relevant.
  2. An annotated portfolio with images that indicate the scope of the work to date in a focused way. These images should relate to your project proposal. See more info below.
  3. A project proposal of 500-1,000 words with annotated bibliography.
Annotated portfolio details

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 CV, portfolio and project proposal 
  • Please submit these digitally if you can. 
  • Please don't submit originals. 
  • If you have trouble uploading your documents digitally when you're applying online, please email

If you need to send us your documents in a physical format, please send them to: 

Dunedin School of Art
Otago Polytechnic
Riego Street
Private Bag 9010, Dunedin

Please note: While all reasonable care will be taken, Otago Polytechnic does not accept responsibility for damage or loss of portfolio material.

Want your existing skills recognised?

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, please ask us about our recognition of prior learning process. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification and could achieve it in a shorter timeframe. Please email or call 0800 762 786.


Domestic fees

Full tuition

International fees

Full tuition

Additional 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. 

Tuition fees

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.


Need more info?

If you want to chat before applying or have questions about your portfolio, please contact Alex Kennedy - our Postgraduate Programme Coordinator. 

Phone: 03 479 3741 / 0800 762 786
Location: Room P203, Dunedin School of Art, Riego Street, Dunedin

Get in touch

0800 762 786
International +64 3 477 3014