Otago Polytechnic

Diploma in Ceramic Arts (Level 7)


Online with practical classes 

Level 7: One year, full-time

Online theory papers with practical classes at various New Zealand locations OR alongside an established master potter

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Passionate about pottery? Want to develop your ceramics skills whilst also furthering your career prospects?

This is New Zealand's only specialised programme in Ceramic Arts at tertiary level and the emphasis is on exploration and experimentation. The Ceramics Department at Otago Polytechnic is the largest in the country and has workshops for plaster and clay making, wood, salt, electric and gas kilns, electric wheels and online research facilities. Become a successful practising artist who is represented in major exhibitions, with the ability to understand and use your creativity to contribute significantly to your community. The transferable skills you gain will be highly valued in a variety of fields in the art sector, education and design and this programme is also a perfect bridge into further studies.

Combining a wide range of studio practice and a comprehensive knowledge of glaze and kiln handling, this qualification allows you to create forms and imagery that unite practical ability and intellectual energy.

Study Ceramics Theory and gain valuable practical experience at classes in Otago, Auckland, Hamilton, Otaki, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Christchurch, or alongside an established master potter.

Please note: All certificate and diploma qualifications are currently being reviewed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Qualification titles and content may be altered as a result of the review but any changes will be introduced and communicated over a transitional period so that there is minimal impact on students. 

Skills required
  • Creativity and imagination.
  • The ability to think laterally and independently.
  • To be motivated and have a good work ethic.
  • Confidence and the ability to accept criticism.
  • To be adaptable and open to new ideas.
Entry requirements
  • You must have completed the Diploma in Ceramic Arts (Level 6) OR equivalent qualifications and/or experience.
  • You must demonstrate an interest in art.
  • You must undertake an interview and submit a portfolio. This must be no larger than 15MB if you are applying online.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they have an acceptable level of secondary school achievement.
  • If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0, with no band score less than 5.5.
Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identity, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure and portfolio requirements

Early applications are preferred as some areas have limited placements.

Portfolio Requirement

We require examples of your artwork and the ways that you develop your ideas. Your examples need to show us your working processes and your ability to use a range of materials.

If you have been working in the NCEA system, please send us twelve (12) examples of your finished works and of your working processes from your folders.

If you have not been working in the NCEA system, please send us six (6) examples of finished work and six (6) pages of sketches or workbook pages.

Please submit your portfolio digitally (15MB file size limit if you are applying online) or in an A4 folder. Please do not submit originals as we do not return application folders.

Thank you. We are looking forward to seeing your artwork.

Writing Requirement

Please include with your portfolio:

  1. An essay or written text of at least a page (300 words). You may include writing produced for any of your NCEA subjects or if you don't have these, you may write a new piece on any topic of your choice.
  2. A double-spaced letter of not more than one page (300 words) explaining why you want to come to art school and what your experiences of art may have been to date. This may include all or some of the following:

    > Why art is important to you, the community and the wider world
    > Your expectations for your own future after your studies
    > Art galleries you may be familiar with
    > Artists whose work you may know
    > Art skills you may have already gained

If you have any questions regarding your portfolio, or need any advice, please contact artoffice@op.ac.nz

Additional costs

Material costs in addition to those provided vary according to individual projects.

Further study options

If you have enjoyed this programme and would like to continue your study, choose to apply for the Bachelor of Visual Arts, Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts, Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts, Master of Visual Arts or the Master of Fine Arts. 

You will study

A distance option is also offered, where suitable arrangements can be made, for you to study in your own area with supervision from an appropriate approved local ceramist. You are required to have access to an appropriate computer, as well as the operating skills to access Otago Polytechnic services.

On-site location:
Dunedin School of Art - Phone: 477 3014 or 0800 762 786

Off-site locations:
Auckland Studio Potters - Phone: 09 634 3622
The Busy Finch (Christchurch) - Phone: 021 805 330
Nelson Craft Potters - Phone: 03 544 5172
Hawkes Bay Keirunga Potters - Phone: 06 877 5294
Otaki Jailhouse Pots - Phone: 06 364 0688
Waikato Society of Potters (Hamilton) - Phone: 07 838 1950

Qualification structure
Course Title Level Credits
Studio Practice 3 7 90
Drawing and Design 3 7 15
Theory and History of Art 3: Special Topic 7 15
Total   120
Your workload

A full-time programme entails five full working days, or the equivalent, for 32 weeks. Studios may be open for extended hours for senior students.

Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

Links to useful websites

 Connect with School of Art students, graduates and staff on our very active Facebook page.


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.

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