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University of Canterbury
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Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


4 years

Next start date

Expected Feb 2023


University of Canterbury


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 in one studio area.

The four-year degree is based within purpose-built facilities and students enjoy being part of a supportive community of practitioners.

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

  • 90 points of compulsory Fine Arts courses
  • 45 points of compulsory Art History and Theory and/or Cinema Studies courses
  • 270 points towards a specialist studio subject
  • 75 points from courses in Arts or other degrees.

Double degrees

It is possible to study a BFA with another degree.


Studies in Photography begin with a comprehensive introduction to photographic principles, an exploration of photography as a device for communicating information, ideas and personal insights, and an introduction to the basic materials and processes of photographic practice.

Further studies involve an examination of the procedures which are distinctive to photography and how these procedures can be used for documentary and artistic expression.

Advanced studies are individually constructed; they focus on projects concerned with expressive aspects of the medium, and are encouraged to see their work and to examine it critically within its historical and sociological context.

Further study

Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts; Master of Fine Arts; Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorship

A UC Fine Arts degree is accepted as an possible 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.

Career opportunities

Photography students gain careers as professional artists, art gallery directors, photojournalists, commercial photographers, consultants, art critics, art historians, lecturers and art teachers.

Entry criteria

To apply for admission to the Intermediate Year (first year) of the BFA, you need to have met University Entrance requirements, and achieved NCEA Level 3 Visual Arts in one or more subjects (or the equivalent in other secondary school qualifications).

It is also recommended that you have at least 14 credits in each of two other NCEA Level 3 subjects (or equivalent) that are not practical art subjects.

All applicants also need to submit an application form, a letter of introduction, and a portfolio of work.

Applicants must also satisfy our English language entry requirements:

  • IELTS (Academic): Minimum overall score of 6.0, with no band score lower than 5.5.
  • TOEFL (IBT): Minimum overall score of 80, with a minimum score of 19 in Reading, Listening and Writing.
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): Overall score of 50, and no communicative skills score below 42.

Undergraduate application deadline: Semester 1 (February start) by 31 October.

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