Bachelor of Visual Arts - degree outline

button for easy access to information about this qualificationPassionate about art? Our Bachelor of Visual Arts prepares you for the demands of a career in contemporary art. Many of our graduates are now involved in significant creative art events, both in New Zealand and around the world. Study at New Zealand’s top art and design school and have your own studio space where you work with painting, print, photography, sculpture, moving image, sound and performance, often incorporating other media and new technologies. Your study is a mix of one-on-one tutorials, critiques, seminars, visits from artists and critics, workshops, noho marae and field trips to galleries.

Key features

  • A mix of practical skills and the theory of art, which focuses on contemporary art practices and the ideas that inform them
  • Creative and collaborative environment with your own studio space
  • At the end of your final year, you will have the opportunity to showcase your work to the media and industry through the AUT School of Art + Design festival

Quick facts

Programme Code: AK3352
Level: 7
Points: 360 (including 60 points from a selected minor)
Duration: 3 years full-time / equivalent part-time
Venue: City Campus
Start date: 26 February 2018

Deadlines for programme application and portfolio submission

Acceptance into this programme is based on academic achievement, the work submitted in a portfolio, and if required, an interview. We will continue to accept applications until all places are filled (up to the start of Semester 1, 2018), however those who submit their full applications, including a portfolio of work, by 29 September 2017 will be prioritised. Applications received after this date will only be considered if there are places available and upon meeting all programme entry requirements.

Social media links

Find out more what it is like to study Visual Arts at AUT by visiting our Visual Arts blog, our Facebook page, and Instagram account.

Career opportunities

  • Artist
  • Arts administrator, manager or director
  • Art consultant
  • Art critic, historian, commentator or writer
  • Art gallery manager or owner
  • Curator
  • Educator
  • Postgraduate study

For more information about your career options, see the Visual Arts future career sheet

Entry requirements

  • University Entrance
  • Portfolio of art work
  • An interview may be required
  • Applicants for whom English or Māori is not their first language must provide proof of their English proficiency. IELTS (academic), completed within the last two years is the preferred test for entry. Minimum IELTS (academic) requirements are as follows: 6.5 overall with all bands 6 or higher.

Recognition of Prior Learning

You may be eligible to enter year 2 or year 3 of the degree if you have completed all or part of a design or visual arts degree at another approved tertiary institution. Applications for cross credits will normally be assessed after you receive an offer of place to the Bachelor of Design or the Bachelor of Visual Arts. For more information, click here or email



The Paint-Print pathway is based in the languages and practices of painting and printmaking, as they have been brought into contemporary contexts for art making. Students approach image making as a process that involves fluid interaction between visual qualities, ideas, technologies and media. From their practical explorations, using media and technologies in ways that suit their inventive purposes, each student will develop a territory of interest for art making. Workshops and seminars are given on painting concepts and techniques, printmaking concepts and techniques, studio practice and how to work with ideas and images, and on the critical analysis of works of art.


The Photography pathway enables students to develop an independent lens-based direction from a foundation of learning undertaken in photographic theory and technical learning. Students learn skills to work with a broad range of high-end equipment and facilities including large format analogue photography, studio lighting and digital processes that include moving image work. Questioning what photography is and how it operates in the world today helps students to develop a photographic art practice that is critical and current.


The Sculpture pathway is based in the expanded field of sculptural practice encompassing the breadth of sculptural artworks and contexts evident in contemporary art today. Students are encouraged to develop individual approaches to their making through experimental and open-ended investigative methods. There is a strong focus on the exploration of sculptural concepts and ideas driving contemporary art, inclusive of materiality, time, objects, space, site and place as well as installation, performance and social art practice. In the final year, students develop individual projects based on their own research interests and related media, methods and processes.


To help you develop a broad range of skills, you also study a minor (60 points) as part of this degree.

Enrolment in minors is subject to availability (not all minors listed above will be open for enrolment in a given year). You also have the option of studying a minor or elective papers from outside the Bachelor of Visual Arts degree.

See the list of additional majors, minors and electives offered by the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies.


Papers are delivered over either one semester or a full year. You will need to complete 120 points each year and 360 points for the entire degree. In each year you will study and complete core compulsory papers alongside your selected minor.

Year 1

Explore the fundamentals of visual arts theory and practice. You're encouraged to develop your own artistic interests and approaches to art-making. In Semester 2, you specialise in paint/print, photography or sculpture.

Year 1 papers
VSAR501 Visual Arts Studio I (30 points)
VSAR502 Visual Arts Theory I (30 points)
VSAR503 Visual Arts Core Studio (45 points)
In addition you will study one paper at level 5 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 2

You continue doing a mix of studio and theory papers, becoming increasingly self-reliant. You develop advanced visual, media, method and conceptual skills, and create a coherent body of art that incorporates complexity and subtlety.

Year 2 papers
VSAR601 Visual Arts Studio II (60 points)
VSAR602 Visual Arts Theory II (30 points)
In addition you will study two papers at level 6 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 3

At the end of Year 3, you have the opportunity to exhibit your work through the AUT School of Art and Design festival

Year 3 papers
VSAR701 Visual Arts Studio III (75 points)
VSAR702 Visual Arts Theory III (15 points)
VSAR703 Visual Arts Professional Practice (15 points)
In addition you will study one paper at level 7 from the minor that you have selected.

Click here for more information about papers.

Additional course information can also be found here. 

Enrolment in papers is subject to meeting all prerequisite requirements and availability of enrolment space in each paper.

Please email for programme information.

Our students talk about the Bachelor of Visual Arts

Further study options

Postgraduate study will open up even more career opportunities. A one-year honours degree or 18-months master's degree enable you to specialise in and research a particular area within your chosen discipline.

Broaden your options by studying double degrees

Double degrees double your knowledge and opportunities but don't take double the time to complete. If you study double degrees, you apply for and enrol separately in each of the two degrees. If you’re considering doing this, please seek course advice to discuss your plans. You may be able to cross-credit relevant papers from one degree to the other, although the number of cross-credits will vary depending on the degree combinations. Double degrees may be completed either one after the other or concurrently.

Study the Bachelor of Visual Arts and:

Detailed programme structure

By studying both degrees you develop design skills for roles in visual arts and business. This includes the ability to create high value products, services and brands, and to balance creative design and strategic thinking to complement design and business.

Last updated: 19-Jan-2018 1.47pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.