BFA Year One

Year One is based around three practical core subjects of Objective Drawing, Expressive Drawing and Design.

Students are required to do one term each of Photography and Photoshop. Students must also complete courses in Cultural Studies and Visual Theory. Visual theory introduces the vocabulary of art theory and art history and ways of looking at art and design. Cultural studies looks at origins and ethnicity and how this feeds into creativity. The remainder of the programme is made up of four one week intensive workshops and four electives which students may choose from a extensive list of courses in FINE ARTS, PHOTO MEDIA, GRAPHIC DESIGN and FASHION DESIGN. During this year, students must decide which of the four disciplines available that they wish to major in for their Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Minimum Requirements

17 years of age during the year of commencement. International students must turn 18 years old during the year of commencement.

NCEA University Entrance or equivalent CIE/IB award (preferably including practical art and/or design and English). Discretionary Entrance is available to students who have gained exceptional marks in NCEA Level 2/Year 12 and wish to embark on higher level study. These students must display a high level of motivation and maturity. Students who do not meet these requirements are advised to undertake the Foundation Certificate in preparation for application to the BFA programme.

Students who have successfully completed the 6-month or 12-month Certificate in Arts and Design or Certificate in Digital Media and Design (NZQF Level 4) programmes will be considered for entry into the first year of the BFA.

For students 20 years or older, the above qualification requirements may be waived by the Admissions Board if the applicant demonstrates suitable equivalent experience.

Portfolio required.

Programme Outcomes

This broad-based programme develops practical and theoretical skills and knowledge. Students gain core skills in design, representational drawing, expressive drawing, visual theory and cultural studies.

Through studio elective courses students are also introduced to the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree majors; Fine Arts, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, and Photography.

Students who exit after successful completion of the first year of the BFA gain entry into year 2 of the BFA programme.

International Students

English Language Entry Requirements

Whitecliffe expects all students to be proficient in English to an academic level. All applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide satisfactory evidence of their proficiency in English in the form of a recent IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score from an accredited organisation/ institution. Both IELTS and TOEFL are standard. For a list of testing stations near you, visit, or contact the Admissions Office.

  • Foundation Certificate Programmes: a minimum of 5.5 IELTS or equivalent
  • BFA Degree  Programme: a minimum of 6.0 IELTS or equivalent
  • Postgraduate Programmes: a minimum of 6.5 IELTS or equivalent

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL)

Advanced standing may be granted to students with experience of prior tertiary training or professional experience in art and design. Click here for the admissions process

BFA Application process

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree applicants must:

  1. Complete the Whitecliffe Application Form (including statistical information), checking all sections and signing the declaration.
  2. Attach relevant academic records, resumes or references, passport size photo and documentary proof of residency, age and citizenship.
  3. Forward the application, with application fee payment, as soon as possible (although late applications may be accepted if there are places available). Upon receipt of an application form and application fee payment, Whitecliffe will schedule an interview.
  4. Bring your portfolio to your scheduled interview at Whitecliffe.

Admissions Board Selection meetings occur regularly, so applicants should receive notification within three weeks. After interviews, applicants will be contacted regarding the decision of the Admissions Board.

The preferential application deadline for all years of the BFA is 31 October. Late applications considered.

Click here to view work by BFA Year One students. 

Bachelor oF fine Arts - Year ONE
National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level: 5
NQF Credits: 120
EFTs: 1.0
Duration: 1 year, Full Time
Next Intake: February
Preferential Applications by: 31 October - Late applications considered.
Maximum Places Available: 120
Campus: Main Campus, 24 Balfour Road, Parnell, Auckland