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Institute of Technology or Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic
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Master of Fine Arts

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


2 years

Next start date

Expected Sep 2022


Otago Polytechnic


If you've already decided that you're serious about art, and want to develop further as a professional arts practitioner or expand your employment potential, then this is the qualification for you.

The Master of Fine Arts is an applied research degree benchmarked against national and international standards with a distinct emphasis on art-making and writing. The programme is shaped by your proposal and can be completed in one discipline, or across several, and provides a qualification necessary for careers such as tertiary teaching, writing or critiquing, museum or gallery curatorship.

Practising artists will especially benefit from a focused, in-depth research project, culminating in a public exhibition and dissertation, reflecting your knowledge and competence in art practices and theories, and contemporary society and culture. Choose to study at the Dunedin School of Art and enter into a lively and challenging environment where you will benefit from the nationally unique workshop facilities and the expertise of lecturers who have a diverse range of approaches and experience in the fine arts and design.

Location: Dunedin School of Art (P Block, Riego Street) OR a low residency option for study in this programme for students based outside Dunedin.

Skills required

  • To have a current arts practice.
  • 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.

Further study options

This qualification provides you with the necessary degree to pursue a Doctor of Visual Arts (DVA), a Doctor of Fine Arts (DocFA) and/or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in New Zealand or overseas

Qualification structure

This programme is ideal if you are a practicing artist who has a specific research interest or project you wish to pursue within a formal and supportive institutional context. Expand knowledge and competency of your practice while undertaking an in-depth research project over two years, culminating in a public exhibition and associated written outcome.

You will study

The Dunedin School of Art and the School of Design at Otago Polytechnic consist of a community of several hundred people united by an abiding interest in material making and theoretical research. As artists, designers and scholars we are a very diverse community with differing backgrounds, languages and cultural contexts. Our environment is lively and challenging, making for good art and a rich life.

The Master of Fine Arts programme offers you a space in which ideas can be manufactured through processes of making and writing undertaken in close conversation. It is a space in which you can test yourself against a rigorous community of peers and supervisors; a space within which you can reach out to the wider national and international community and to professional opportunities for your future. The programme invites you into this space by offering possibilities for creative thinking, applied research and networking with members of our international community of contemporary artists and other cultural workers. The experience of being in a postgraduate programme of distinction and high expectations will expose you to debate and different perspectives, which contribute to a productive process of learning during your studies.


From application onwards, you work towards four integrated goals: a public exhibition, a related dissertation, documentation of work over the period of your study and an oral presentation of work in the exhibition.

Entry criteria

Students must hold a recognised bachelor's degree in fine arts or an equivalent four year programme with at least a B grade average. Three year undergraduate degrees may be considered but you must have achieved an A pass average in the major subject.

Selection for admission includes an interview. If you do not hold the above qualifications, you must demonstrate appropriate ability through a current portfolio and a related project proposal which will be approved by the Master of Fine Arts Admissions Committee.

International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet the entry requirements.

If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in any band.

TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT): Score of 590 (with an essay score of 5.5 TWE)

TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT): Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)

Cambridge English Qualifications: C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill;

PTE (Academic) score of 58 with no band score lower than 50

Language Certificate: C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill

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