Contextual Studies

The BFA degree programme combines creative research skills with real world awareness of the requirements of contemporary visual arts and design professions.

At every level compulsory Contextual Studies courses (theoretical and professional practice courses) require students to engage in traditional research and presentation skills. Contextual studies courses are designed to encourage students to make connections between theory and practice, to engage in critical analysis, to improve speaking and writing skills and establish a voice of their own in a rigorous academic environment.

Year One


Introduction to Visual Theory - Art and Design History and Theory

Social Sciences - Cultural Studies

Writing for Academic Purposes - English Language Support

Prep. Cert. English and Academic Studies - English Language Support

Year Two


Art and Design History Survey - Art and Design History and Theory

Art Practices - Applied Theory

Social Science - Social Sciences

Business Studies - Professional Studies

Year Three


Art and Design Disciplines 

Management Studies

New Pacific Art: Spirit of the People

Contemporary Asia and the Pacific Rim: Pacific Dragons

The Post Post-colonial

Relational Aesthetics

Scripting the Body

Art and Design for a Sustainable World

The Age of Enlightenment

Making Art in a Globalised Art World

Gender Identity and Contemporary Media

Year Four


Art and Design Theory - Applied TheoryArts Marketing and Public Relations - Professional Studies

Social Sciences

Study of social development fosters an understanding and acceptance of the diverse opinions, attitudes and values of many of the groups of people living in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.


Cultural Studies

Introduces cultural issues and theories relevant to both the developing artist and designer.

Social Science

Explores issues relating to social structures, gender, ethics and age from the perspective of philosophy, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Focuses on perceptions and aesthetic development in art and design.

Art and Design History, Theory

The historical evolution of artistic styles, theories, and philosophies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania are studied. Students are encouraged to form a personal understanding, relative to their work, of the diverse styles of artists and larger artistic movements or time periods.


Introduction to Visual TheoryIntroduces principles of art and design theory and academic research and writing.

Art and Design HistorySurveys the history of art and design of cultures from prehistoric times to the late nineteenth century.

Art Practices

Includes practical work, research, and discussion of topics relating to contemporary issues in art and design. Topics include investigations of the creative process, aspects of practices and fieldtrips to museums, art galleries and commercial areas.

Art Disciplines Surveys formats of art and design production from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Art and Design History - Modern

Surveys art and design movements, styles and artists, with an emphasis on Western arts from the mid 1800s to the 1940s.

Art and Design History - Contemporary

Surveys art and design movements, styles and artists, with an emphasis on Western art since the 1940s. New Zealand and Pacific Art and Design History surveys art and design from pre-colonial times to the present, including Maori art and case studies of contemporary New Zealand artists.

Art and Design Theory

Explores issues in aesthetics, philosophy and criticism as they relate to both art and design.

Professional Studies

Business skills and knowledge in finance and accounting, business communication, contract law, ethics, marketing, and entrepreneurial leadership/management. These skills are essential for graduates working as an employee or as an independent art or design professional.


Business Studies

Explores essential professional and business practices and methods in arts and design professions. Topics include copyright law, business plans, business ethics and economics.

Management Studies

Looks at management and administration in relation to art and design industries. Topics range from economics, human resource management, planning and communications, to specialised areas such as design management, business and culture and the management of creative people.

Arts Marketing and Public Relations

Introduces professional practice in relation to the goals of individual students. Topics include the consumer culture, arts market research, sponsorship and event management, as well as media, ethics, promotion and commercial relationships in the arts and design communities.

English Language Support

These courses promote language proficiency primarily to help students whose first language is not English to undertake diploma or degree level studies in art and design. Some support is also available for students having difficulty with English as an academic language.


Writing for Academic PurposesOffers one-to-one help with academic writing for students having difficulty with English as an academic language.

Preparatory Certificate EnglishAcademic Studies introduces art and design vocabulary and concepts, and theoretical studies such as history, social science and philosophy for students whose first language is not English.