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Bachelor of Fine Arts - Graphic Design

Key information

Level of study:
Bachelor's Degree
Tuition fees:
3 years
Start date: 16-February-2021
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Course details


The Whitecliffe Graphic Design Department prepares students for a career in graphic design, an industry that offers a broad range of creative and commercial possibilities. Creative projects challenge and develop the student’s conceptual ability, theoretical knowledge and technical skills. Students are encouraged to present and contextualise their work within the historical development of design and contemporary practice.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is internationally recognised for being a creative visual research programme rather than a purely technical course. In the Whitecliffe Graphic Design department, students learn to openly explore the techniques and technologies needed to materially realise their conceptual ideas. Top design agencies recognise that while the technical ability is beneficial it is also reasonably common. At the top end of the industry, it is the graduate’s level of thinking and creativity that counts.

Year One for Graphic Design students includes a combination of both general arts and design with specialist Graphic Design courses. The programme covers practical and theoretical skills and knowledge where students develop core skills in design, drawing, materials and processes, together with critical and contextual studies.

In Year Two, students develop work in increasingly specialised areas of graphic design, including publication design, identity design, information graphics and web design. Students learn how to develop projects towards their own areas of interest in preparation for Year Three study. Studio Research assignments, projects and/or workshops are mainly lecture-initiated but largely student-directed and are based around a series of in-depth, Graphic Design topics that support students to evaluate complex issues and discuss critical frameworks relevant to contemporary practice.

Year Three

Year Three students extend their creative and contextual skills by undertaking increasingly self-directed studio work, culminating in a second semester-long graduating project and exhibition. Students create a body of work, or a series of projects directed towards exploring an area of inquiry relevant to contemporary graphic design. Projects may be a mix of conventional graphic design industry projects like website, magazine or identity design, or they may produce something more speculative such as typeface design or engaging in self-publishing. Theory, contextual studies and a programme of guest lecturers, individual supervision and group critiques support their independent study.

Where could this programme take you?

The degree prepares students for self-employment through compulsory business skills courses, including Management Studies, Public Relations and Marketing. Graphic Design is a vital industry in New Zealand and overseas. It is increasingly important for companies and organisations to communicate clearly and engage with an audience across Print, Web, and interactive media. The field also continues to grow with developments in Branding, Interactive Design and Design Management.

Jobs related to this programme

Graphic Design

Typeface Design

Information Design

Environmental Graphics


Print Publication

Freelance Design

Moving Image Design

Digital / Interactive / Web Design


Textile Design


Art Direction

Creative Direction

Entry criteria

NCEA University Entrance or equivalent CIE/IB award. Note that discretionary entrance is available to students who have gained exceptional marks in level 2 NCEA. Some of the above academic requirements may be waived for students over 20 years of age.

IELTS test: Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5


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