Certificate in Arts + Design

This semester-long programme (18 weeks) concentrates on developing a portfolio for application to on-going tertiary study at Whitecliffe, elsewhere in New Zealand, or overseas.

The Certificate in Arts + Design focuses on developing skills in drawing, painting, mixed media, and design. It offers opportunities for focused sampling and exploration primarily within the areas of Fine Arts + Photo Media, with some further content relating to Design Innovation and Fashion + Sustainability, all of which underpin the degree-level programmes at Whitecliffe.

Key dates

July 2022 Intake 15 • 07 • 22
February 2023 Intake 20 • 02 • 23
July 2023 Intake 17 • 07 • 23

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18 weeks, full-time in Auckland + Manukau


New Zealand Certificate in Arts + Design (Level 4) 60 credits


Domestic $3,540 + $150 Student Services Levy
International $12,000 + $150 Student Services Levy
Fees free applies
All 2022 fees are subject to change and regulatory approval

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Certificate in Arts + Design Course Outline

The Certificate in Arts + Design focuses on developing skills in drawing, painting, mixed media, and design. It offers opportunities for focused sampling and exploration primarily within the areas of Fine Arts + Photo Media, with some further content relating to Design Innovation and Fashion + Sustainability, all of which underpin the degree-level programmes at Whitecliffe.

The emphasis is on practical projects and deepening students' understanding of the visual arts as well as the principles and the application of design, supported by conceptual content and knowledge. Students are enabled to develop the appropriate skills and can manage projects/briefs under broad guidance. Students are guided to edit, select, and format their best visual outcomes into a portfolio at the end of the programme. Students gain a solid base of art and design-related knowledge, equipping them with the learning strategies, attitudes, and skills for higher-level tertiary study, or entry-level employment in the field.


Certificate of Arts + Design Overview

Studio Based Arts

Students are introduced to a range of drawing, mixed media, painting, collage, and three-dimensional art-making techniques enabling them to communicate ideas visually, whilst providing opportunities to practice, develop, and refine these skills. They will gain an understanding of mark-making, observational, conceptual drawings, and image-making. Students will also be introduced to practical painting skills, mediums, techniques, concepts, and colour studies.

Photo Media + Moving Image

Students will experiment with photographic and moving image concepts and processes allowing them to gain an understanding of composition, image capture, and editing techniques in both still-image making and short-film making. Students will learn about contemporary themes in both photographic and moving image mediums.

Design Methodology

Students are introduced to principles, elements, and foundational processes of design and print making. They will use design software and will be encouraged to think about how it can contribute to art making and design processes. This includes elementary print making processes; block-making, stencil creation, and screen printing. Students will develop an understanding of composition, colour, and the use of image and text in the design process as well as elementary theoretical and conceptual design processes.

Arts Practices

Students are introduced to fundamental methods of visual recording, critical analysis, and experimental art making. Students will explore and learn creative processes related to accessing, recording, and presenting information, critical studies, and collaborative work-making related to contextual theme and portfolio design and exhibition practices.

Cert Exhibition

Key Information for Students

NZ Government key information link for students, that provides more information to support your decision making for this programme

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Admission Requirements

Domestic Student Entry Requirements

  • Completed application form
  • Minimum age: Students must turn 17 within their first year of study at Whitecliffe
  • No portfolio required

International Student Entry Requirements

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy
  • Minimum age: Students must turn 18 within their first year of study at Whitecliffe
  • IELTS Academic overall score of 5.5 with no band less than 5.0 or equivalent
  • An interview may be required - this can be arranged via telephone or online
  • No portfolio required

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Requirements:

Recently we have found ourselves working remotely due to COVID-19, we recommend that you have your own device to support your studies. The following specifications are intended to help you make the best choice of laptop, desktop, or tablet for the job.

Recommended IT Specifications:

Minimum Hardware requirements

  • Mac - Intel processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later
  • MacBook Air with M1 Chip 
  • Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later 
  • 8 GB RAM (Recommended 16 GB)   
  • 250 GB SSD or higher hard drive with 10GB free space minimum 
  • Wireless capability 802.11n dual-band    
  • Up-to-date antivirus software   

Minimum Operating System     

  • Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1809 or later; LTSC versions are not supported
  • Apple macOS Mojave (version 10.14) or later 
  • Internet and data plan.    

Not Supported:    

  • Chromebooks    
  • Windows X or Windows S OS    
  • Tablets (except Windows Surface Pro or iPad Pro) 

Graduate Story: Christina Pataialii

Studying on the Whitecliffe Foundation Certificate course was the beginning of Fine Arts student Christina Pataialii student years at Whitecliffe. Christina attended Mt. Albert Grammar and studied towards her BA at Auckland University before the birth of her daughter and a brief time in hairdressing before applying to study at Whitecliffe. She says she was raised “in various central and western suburbs of Auckland, generally in the lower socio-economic areas. I was raised bi-culturally, Samoan and NZ European, which definitely inspired a lot of my thoughts and interests in creativity.”

Her reason for selecting Whitecliffe: “I had heard it was one of New Zealand’s top art schools by numerous people and it offered a Foundation course, which I needed to get into a BFA as I had never taken any visual arts in high school and therefore didn’t have a portfolio. I was always creative, mostly drawing. I naturally gravitated to creative areas in school, drawing, writing and music. During my Foundation Certificate course, I realized painting was my biggest drive and I knew it was what I wanted to continue with as a career path.”

Christina’s inspiration for her practice comes from “the places I grew up and the people I grew up around. A lot of my inspiration comes from my background and it drives a lot of my work in the studio. The themes I engage are mostly socio-political, socio-economics, cultural politics (particularly low socio-economics), location, relocation, dislocation, nostalgia, traces, left overs. Most of my work will be on a large scale in general- I prefer to work in this way whether I’m painting or working on an installation. I also try to integrate aspects of my cultural background while still having an awareness of much wider conversations.”

Christina has now completed both her BFA and Master of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe and of her time at Whitecliffe says, “I think what I’ve enjoyed the most about Whitecliffe is the people around me. Students and lecturers alike have been very patient and supportive of my endeavors, my ideas and my general temperamental perspectives. There is always someone around to bounce ideas off of or keep you in check when you need it.” Her final word of advice to prospective students is to “take time to understand what you are about. What motivates you or inspires you, it saves a lot of confusion when trying to find your feet during the degree.”

As for plans for the future, she hopes “to be a practicing artist! I am driven by the idea of working with others as a teacher or mentoring, ideally working with local communities. Heading overseas to experience the wider art world is definitely next.”

Still life

Graduate Story: Jason Richards

From Foundation To New York and London

Jason Richards is a Foundation Certificate and a BFA Graphic Design graduate who currently works as a designer in London.

While a student at Whitecliffe, Jason was as an in-house designer for two years and had three internships- Bantam NZ, Scizzorface and Stolen Girlfriends Club. “Each one exposed me to different skills and experiences so by the time I graduated I had clocked enough real-world experience that I wasn't intimidated to take on certain roles.“ Then within just one year of graduating with his BFA he had moved to New York and was working as a graphic and print designer for the fashion label Opening Ceremony, specialising in textiles, graphics, illustration and branding projects for the collection.

"I was working my third retail job since leaving high school and although it was managerial, I felt like I had hit a wall. Four years out, I had just turned 21, and I felt like I had achieved nothing. I knew I wanted to study graphics or fashion but I avoided it because it intimidated and scared that I wasn't good enough or I was going to fail.

"It felt less daunting entering an 18-week course. If I weren't to enjoy it or do well, I knew I hadn't wasted much time and could move onto the next idea. I also liked that there was such a diverse range of topics and classes.

"I always wanted to be good enough to study at a degree level. After the first term of the certificate and receiving my grades and feedback, that's when I realised I was capable of that. And besides, 18 weeks simply wasn't long enough for me to express all these ideas that had started to simmer in my mind. As a student that entered set on majoring in fashion, I actually discovered a love for painting, drawing and mixed-media. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed getting hands on. If I had skipped the foundation course and jumped straight into my degree, I think I would have led myself down the wrong track. I needed this warm up to discover what I was capable of and what I enjoyed without the amount of stress and commitment of the Bachelor."

Jason Richards 1

Where could this programme take you?

Graduates will produce a portfolio and gain a broad knowledge of art and design-related subjects to ensure they are equipped with the learning strategies, attitudes and self-management skills for further tertiary study and/or entry-level vocations.

Jobs related to this programme

Junior Assistant

Arts Support Roles

Design Support Roles

Freelance Creative

Find out more about career opportunities

Talk to our team

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If you would like to ask us a question or request more information, please detail your enquiry using the form below. If you would like you can contact us directly on 0800 800 300, email us or use the contact us form.

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