Bachelor of Fine Arts


The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a prestigious degree that will give you a broad knowledge in visual arts, multimedia and design before you specialise. The four-year degree is based within purpose-built facilities and students enjoy being part of a supportive community of practitioners.

Features of the Bachelor of Fine Arts at UC

  • First art school in New Zealand and one of the oldest in the English-speaking world
  • Teaching staff are artists, designers, filmmakers and curators of international standing
  • Facilities include an on-campus art gallery, dedicated studios and workshops
  • Numerous exhibitions are organised by the School of Fine Arts throughout the year, allowing students to showcase their work to multiple audiences
  • Enjoy a welcoming community of like-minded students, enthusiasts, professionals, staff and alumni.

Entry requirements

Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. Domestic applicants over 20 who do not hold University Entrance, or equivalent, may gain admission by providing evidence of their ability to complete tertiary study successfully. For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications. This degree has additional entry requirements – please see below.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Specific entry requirements

To apply for admission to the Intermediate Year (first year) of the BFA directly from school, you need to have met University Entrance requirements and:

  • achieved NCEA Level 3 Visual Arts in one or more subjects; and
  • at least 14 credits in each of two other NCEA Level 3 subjects (that are not practical art subjects) is also strongly recommended; or
  • the equivalent standards in other qualification frameworks.

All applicants also need to submit an application form, a letter of introduction and a portfolio. See 'How to apply' section below for more information. 

Qualification structure and duration

The Bachelor of Fine Arts requires a total of 480 points: 

Intermediate Year

The Fine Arts Intermediate Year consists of FINA 101 What is Practice?FINA 102 Communities of Practice, and FINA 103 Studio Practice as well as 30 points of 100-level Art History and Theory courses.

On passing the Intermediate Year, most students are able to gain a place in one of their two studio electives. In the second, third and fourth years of the BFA, you will specialise in one subject. Your grades in the Intermediate Year will influence your choice of subject. 

Note: Students who have enrolled in the BFA before 2017 will have a different degree structure and requirements – see 'Students enrolled before 2017' below.

Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Fine Arts

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
    Introduction to all specialist studio studies
    Required Art History and Theory courses
    Specialisation in one studio subject
    Courses from the Bachelor of Arts schedule
(1) FINA 101 is 30 points. FINA 103 is 45 points.
(2) Students specialising in Film or Photography may take either Art History and Theory or Cinema Studies 200-level courses.
(3) Students must complete 30 points of 300-level ARTH courses to be eligible for entry into Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at fourth year.
Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points (or more).
Students who began a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016 will follow a different structure - see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Double Degrees

It is possible to study a BFA with another degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. If you are considering a double degree you should get advice from a College of Arts Student Advisor or the Liaison Office.

Find out more information about Double degrees.

Subjects and courses

UC offers five studio specialisations in the Bachelor of Fine Arts:

Students enrolled before 2017

Students enrolled in the BFA prior to 2017 will graduate with the BFA regulations and degree structure from the year they were enrolled in:

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree Diagram pre-2017

S‌ee the 2016 Regulations for the Bachelor of Fine Arts for more information or contact the School of Fine Arts.

How to apply

Entry to the Intermediate Year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts is limited. In addition to the Application to Enrol, you need to complete and supply by 15 November 2017:

You are encouraged to submit the form as early as possible before the due date and to visit the School of Fine Arts before making your application. The School welcomes applications from October.

* Portfolio of work

In addition to the application form, you should also provide a portfolio of recently completed art and/or design work. This is your opportunity to demonstrate:

  • Evidence of your competency and ability in artmaking – so please make sure you include your best work. We also need to see aspects of your methodology; examples of preliminary sketches are important here.
  • Your best possible work presentation. There are a number of formatting requirements for the supply of your work portfolio – please see the application form for details.
  • Your ability to express your thinking in a written statement. This is your chance to demonstrate a critical understanding of how the work operates, the decisions you made, and what you are trying to address through your work. 

For more information on the application process for the Intermediate Year go to the School of Fine Arts

Further study

Postgraduate options include:

A UC Fine Arts degree is accepted as an entry qualification to postgraduate studies in other tertiary institutions in New Zealand and overseas. UC graduates have been accepted into the best graduate programmes in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, the United States and Australia.

# From 2020, the Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours will be offered as a final-year extension programme for high-achieving undergraduate students. If students meet the criteria, they will be able to enrol in an additional research course in their fourth year. This will replace the current postgraduate qualification.

Career opportunities

Recent UC graduates have gained employment as professional artists, art gallery directors, photojournalists, commercial photographers, film directors, designers, consultants, art conservators, illustrators, fashion designers, curators, art critics, art historians, graphic designers, lecturers and art teachers.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Fine Arts.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Fine Arts. For information on staff, facilities and resources visit the College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata.

For more general information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students), or a College of Arts Student Advisor (advancing students).

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