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A designer is using a digital drawing pad in a design studio with many sketches stick on the wall next to her.

Bachelor of Design and Contemporary Art

Ready to inspire communities through art and design? The Bachelor of Design and Contemporary Art enables you to explore your creative ambitions through making and prepares you for a successful and enduring career in design, visual arts or digital media. 

360 (3.0 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
February or July
Three years full-time or part-time options available

Programme overview

The Bachelor of Design and Contemporary Art is the key to turning your creativity and innovation into an exciting career in the art and design industry.

With hands-on teaching and learning at the heart of this degree programme, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your practice through making and creating while developing the technical skills and expert knowledge you’ll need to land your dream job.

Your first year of study will involve lots of discovery and experimentation. From there, you’ll build a specialist area of practice that draws inspiration from your unique creative abilities and lived experiences, while remaining ever-focused on learning through doing.

You’ll be supported every step of the way by a team of expert professionals. They’ll help you develop the knowledge and skills required to excel in the industry, motivate you to step outside your creative comfort zone, consider different cultural perspectives – and try something new.  

Choosing your major

In your second semester, you’ll choose an area of practice within one of our three majors – Visual Art, Design or Digital Media – and gain key skills and experiences in that area through studio projects, diverse technical workshops and in-depth contextual discussions.

Here are some of the areas of practice you can choose to focus on:

  • Design: Graphic Design, User Experience (UX/UI), Product Design, Web Design
  • Visual Arts: 2D/3D Practice, Photography/ Moving Image, Painting, Sculpture/Installation, Printmaking, Ceramics
  • Digital Media: Animation, Visual Effects (FX), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR)


  • Specialize in your chosen area of practice. Choose an area of interest from one of three majors: Visual Art, Design or Digital Media. 
  • Gain key skills and experience through exciting studio projects, diverse technical workshops and in-depth contextual discussions. 
  • Apply practical learning in studios, computer labs, workshops, through one-on-one and group tutorials, wānanga and noho marae – with the opportunity to meet a wide range of artists and designers.
  • Be creative in your own spaces. Our purpose-built gallery, exhibition and presentation facilities will prepare you for the professional environment.
  • Get excellent student support from expert lecturers and technicians, ready to help you realise your creative ambitions.
  • Work on a major creative capstone project in your final year of study – and exhibit this work at our end-of-year Gradfest. .
  • Graduate work-ready for the future. This new qualification is a culmination of four years’ research – hundreds of hours of industry consultation, interviews and reflection, undertaken to ensure it meets the future needs of Auckland’s creative communities. 

Develop the necessary skills to succeed

It’s our job to ensure that when you walk across that graduation platform, you’re prepared and work-ready. Meeting the demands of the art and design industry and carving a thriving career means developing the right skills – and that’s exactly what you’ll do in this degree programme:

  • Expert knowledge. Gain the technical and conceptual knowledge to create specialist creative work in your chosen field.
  • Communication. Effectively and professionally communicate with a range of stakeholders.
  • Industry preparedness. Be ready for employment, self-employment and/or postgraduate study.
  • Cultural diversity capability. Engage collaboratively with diverse teams and cultures in Aotearoa New Zealand and global cultural contexts.
  • Critical engagement with ethically and socially responsible art, design and digital media practices. 

Create your future in art and design

In Aotearoa New Zealand, design is the largest sub-sector in the creative industries, employing almost half of all creative professionals in the Auckland region. Digital media is the fastest growing sub-sector – in the past 10 years, it has grown four times faster than the total Auckland economy. Aotearoa New Zealand is experiencing a growth period in art sales, and work produced by emerging practitioners is highly desirable. There is a dynamic range of cultural and commercial practice within the arts sector.

The skills that you’ll learn in this programme will not only provide a solid foundation but also help you excel in the world of art and design. As of 2021, it’s estimated that employment for designers in Aotearoa New Zealand will increase over the next five years, keeping career prospects for graduates high. In this degree, designers and artists are taught to be dexterous and adaptive to meet the needs of the dynamic industry.

By developing skills and experience in a specialised area, you can apply for more specialist roles, and as you continue to build your portfolio, you’ll be well set to take on more senior roles or contracting work. 

Further study

Keen to push your creative boundaries even further? Then you might want to consider one of our postgraduate programmes: Postgraduate Certificate in Creative PracticePostgraduate Diploma in Creative Practice and Master of Creative Practice programmes.  

Admission requirements

To be admitted to this programme you must be at least 16 years of age on the date of the programme’s commencement for the semester in which you wish to enroll, and meet the following requirements:

  • 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher including:
    • 14 credits in two art or design-related subjects and 14 credits from two (maximum) other subjects (approved or non-approved courses)
    • 14 credits at NCEA Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau. 
    • 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori (4 in reading, 4 in writing)


  • A Level 4 approved qualification in a relevant art or design discipline.


  • Equivalent knowledge or skills. 

Don’t meet these requirements?

There may be other options available:

  • If you have completed one art or design related course at NCEA level 3 then apply and we will still assess your application, or 
  • If you’re over 20 and have relevant skills/life experience, or
  • If you’re under 20 and have the relevant reading, writing, and numeracy skills. 

Additional requirements

When you apply for this programme, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity (ID) as well as other documents such as academic certificates – please have these handy when you’re ready to apply.

As part of your application, you may also be asked to present a portfolio of work and/or attend an interview.

English requirements

  • 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in Reading, 4 in Writing).
  • International applicants and any Domestic applicant for whom English, Māori or NZ Sign is not their first language must also provide evidence that you have the English proficiency required. 

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Studio 1 (DCAD5001) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to develop foundational skills, knowledge, and experience in creative studio practice in art and design.
Studio 2 (DCAD5002) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to further develop skills, knowledge, and experience in creative studio practice, drawing upon their interests and cultural backgrounds to generate art and/or design outcomes.
Practice in Context 1 (DCAD5101) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course equips students with the academic skills needed for tertiary study in art and design, including the ability to undertake independent creative research and an understanding of key concepts from Te Ao M?ori.
Drawing and Ideation (DCAD5201) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course develops technical skills fundamental to drawing and ideation practice, including media, surface, application, scale and colour in 2D and 3D tactile approaches.
Reproduction and Multiple (DCAD5202) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course develops technical skills fundamental to modes of reproduction, serial and multiplicity, including digital and tactile approaches to print, photographic, mold making, and laser etch.
Digital Technologies (DCAD5203) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course develops technical skills fundamental to creative digital technologies through the Adobe Creative suite.
Courses Credits Aim
Studio 3 (DCAD6003) 30.0 credits (0.25 EFTS) This course enables students to broaden their knowledge, skills and experience of design, visual art, or digital media practices in a creative studio context.
Studio 4 (DCAD6004) 30.0 credits (0.25 EFTS) This course enables students to consolidate their knowledge, skills and experience of design, visual art or digital media practices, and to develop skills, attitudes, and methods to support independent studio practice.
Practice in Context 2 (DCAD6102) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course introduces research methods and critical perspectives to develop students? abilities to independently contextualise and articulate their own creative practice.
Professional Practice (DCAD6103) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will develop understandings in professional practices, processes and issues to prepare students to work within the creative sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Courses Credits Aim
Negotiated Study 1 (DCAD6601) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable a student to pursue an individualised course of study of particular interest aligned with the aims of the programme and graduate profile.

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