Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts


Dunedin School of Art (P Block, Riego Street - click here for a map)

One year full-time; two years part-time

On campus

February and July
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    19 April 2021 - 30 April 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    19 July 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022

Artists create the beautiful, interesting and challenging things that make our environments unique and make a vital contribution to contemporary life. 

If you already hold a degree but would like to develop your fine art skills, this programme offers the opportunity to carry out an intensive personalised course of study. The skills gained through an art qualification are highly valued in a huge variety of industries including education, design, management and marketing. You may become practising artists in various disciplines and media, or consider a diverse and exciting range of careers including an Illustrator, Art Therapist, Researcher, Artists' Agent, Photojournalist or Colour Consultant.

Embrace the opportunity to specialise in Ceramics, Digital and Moving Image, Jewellery-Making and Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture or Textiles. Typically, you would work in one of these areas but interdisciplinary work may be approved. Within the Dunedin School of Art, there is a strong focus on individual supervision and student-centred learning supported by an active community of artists to enhance professional development.  You will benefit from the nationally unique workshop facilities and expertise of lecturers who have a diverse range of approaches and understandings in the fine arts and design.

Skills required
  • Creativity, imagination and motivation.
  • The ability to think laterally and independently.
  • A good work ethic.
  • Confidence and the ability to accept criticism.
  • To be adaptable and open to new ideas.
Entry requirements
  • Open to graduates or those who have been able to demonstrate equivalent practical, professional or educational experience of an appropriate kind. This may include bachelors' degree OR other Level 7 qualifications.
  • You must undertake an interview and submit a portfolio. This must be no larger than 2MB if you are applying online.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet the entry requirements. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

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

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 (2MB 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 

Additional documentation

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

Selection procedure

All applicant submissions are viewed by a panel of academic staff and applicants are accepted on merit based on an evaluation of a portfolio of art practice and evidence of academic skills. Skills must be at second-year level in your chosen subject area as the Graduate Diploma requires completion of third-year (level 7) courses in the studio subject. For this reason an interview may be required. Where the number of successful applicants exceeds the places available, a waiting list will be kept and applicants will be offered vacant places in waiting list order.

Additional costs

The cost of additional material varies according to individual projects. As an indication, you may borrow up to $1,000, in addition to your student allowance for course-related costs.

Further study options

Choose to enrol in our Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), Master of Visual Arts or Master of Fine Arts to further your artistic practice.

Programme specific risks

You will complete Health and safety checklists for specific hazards in your courses. During your study, you will use a range of technical equipment and chemical substances. If you have known allergies or reactions to materials, please indicate these in your application so we can help you into appropriate courses.

You will study

A team of advisors will help you work out a pathway of art study customised to your requirements. It is likely that you will choose a specialty from within a particular field, however a programme of multi-disciplinary study may also be considered. To complement the development of studio skills, you also take Theory and History of Art, Drawing and Independent Studio, depending on your entry level and prior experience

Specialist Studio Disciplines

Study Ceramics

Study Ceramics as a contemporary art practice at Otago Polytechnic - the largest ceramics department in New Zealand. You will benefit from an emphasis on hands-on experimentation in clay making workshops. Develop individual projects which explore ceramics as a medium with its own language, skills and history. The department has wood, salt, electric and gas kilns, electric wheels and online research facilities.

Study Printmaking

Our internationally renowned Printmaking Department is well established and is one of the leading departments of its kind in New Zealand. You will work and learn in its spacious studios and well-equipped workshops, designed to enable students, staff and professional artists to study and practice a comprehensive range of printmaking processes and related techniques. Experienced and award-winning staff members monitor these programmes, which help you research, explore and develop creative concepts.

Study Sculpture

Develop a sculptural language through studio workshops focusing on drawing, form and spatial analysis. This department is equipped to international standards with separate workshops for wood, metal and plastics fabrication, a modelling and casting studio and specialist facilities for ceramic shell bronze casting, metal forging, vacuum forming and spray painting. An emphasis is placed on the philosophical understanding of historical approaches and the means of the development of different formats in individual mediums.

Study Electronic Arts

Specialise in Electronics, which inhabit a constantly shifting location in art and media practice. You may choose to explore 2D and 3D animation, film, installation, electronics, projection and online media and audio/video production. Through the study of contemporary practice, you will engage with media arts and reflect on their historical and contemporary position in the art world.

Study Textiles

Major in textiles in a visual arts context, examining the value of cloth and its relationship to the body, different genders and classes and material culture. The field of textile practice can encompass many approaches such as sculptural, 2D and site-specific artworks. We specialise in print and construction processes that employ a variety of surface treatments, such as screen-print methodologies using pigment ink, dye, discharge and burnout applications, manual and digital embroidery and 3D sewing.

Study Photography

Gain a solid foundation in the practical and theoretical components of black and white, colour and alternative photographic processes. Use and explore a range of equipment and techniques in our well-designed facility. Understand the principles and history of photography as you study different photographic approaches, such as the antiquarian, formalist, documentary, fabricated or manipulated. The learning environment is both supportive and challenging, incorporating discussion, dialogue and critical debate.

Study Painting

Here is an opportunity to develop your artwork so it is relevant to today's society and to international and national contemporary practice. That is the focus of this specialty, although you will also be encouraged to investigate painting discoveries and methodologies in recent centuries. Each stage of the Bachelor of Visual Arts and the Diploma in Arts (Painting) programme present an organised and measured understanding of the techniques, theories and approaches available to the artist today.

Study Jewellery-making and Metalsmithing

Develop your artistic eye and practical skills with the understanding that the fundamental reference for jewellery is the human body. Jewellery uses a visual language based on interaction, communication and contact, and may be expressive and intimate or aggressively provocative. Art, objects and adornment for the body use an unlimited palette of materials from precious metal and stone to recycled waste. 

Your workload

You are expected to work a full week in your studio and other subjects. Learning occurs through a mixture of personal consultations, group seminars and taught coursework.

Qualification structure

The course is structured so that 75% of your time is spent in studio, 12.5% in Art History and Theory (semester one) and 12.5% in Professional Practice (semester two). If you enter the programme mid-year, you will reverse that sequence.

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.

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