Bachelor of Visual Arts

About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Interview | Portfolio | Apply now

About the BVA

The Bachelor of Visual Arts offered at SCA is a practical, hands-on degree focused on developing conceptual, theoretical and technical skills. These are the skills you will need to transform ideas into art, succeed as a practising artist, or flourish in a range of careers in the creative industries.


From the outset, you will be encouraged to work across disciplinary boundaries in order to find ways to realise your ideas. You will be given a thorough grounding in the skills and history of your chosen major.

The course is available in six disciplinary majors. You may choose to major in Painting, Photomedia, Screen Arts, Sculpture (including ceramics and glass), Printmedia or Jewellery and Object. You may also complete a second major in Critical Studies. Each major is underpinned by the teaching of rigorous theory and critical skills.

Our top-performing students have the option of undertaking an extra year of study, known as an honours year. If you take an honours year, you will have the opportunity to pursue a substantial research project in a one-on-one supervisory relationship with a member of our academic staff.


You will be taught by practising artists, writers and curators, whose extensive professional experience and arts industry networks – including contacts in galleries and museums – will be of enormous benefit to you as a student.

The course provides a strong emphasis on theory and history, helping you to refine your research and critical skills, and enabling you to realise the full potential of your creative projects. Importantly, we offer excellent studio facilities, workshops and digital laboratories to support your learning across all discipline areas.


During your time at SCA you will take field trips and excursions to leading art institutions, meet with practising artists, writers, curators and academics, attend artist talks, and participate in exhibitions and other creative industries events. At the end of your studies you will exhibit your work in the annual SCA Undergraduate Degree Show, a showcase of graduating students’ works, exhibited across the Rozelle campus.


The Bachelor of Visual Arts can be taken as a three-year full-time course, or a six-year part-time course. Our unique, part-time* pathway makes the study of visual arts even more accessible.

If you decide to study part-time, you will engage with a dedicated curriculum that is unlike any other Australian art school’s part-time course in the visual arts.

Our flexible course structure allows you to build a course in contemporary art that is adapted to your personal strengths and aspirations. The suite of electives on offer means that you can take electives both at SCA as well as across other faculties of the University of Sydney, transforming the degree to suit your interests

This flexibility will allow you to keep your career choices open until the conclusion of your studies. Upon graduating, you will be equipped with the conceptual and technical skills required to work as a contemporary artist, or to establish an art, media or design practice.

You will also be well-qualified to work in a wide range of other culture-related fields, including art education and administration, curation, website and interactive design, and publishing.

Above all, you will emerge from the course as an expert in developing artistic and creative responses to the big issues driving contemporary society.

*If you wish to study part-time, you will enrol in fewer units of study each semester. Most of classes are scheduled between 9 am and 5 pm. International students on a student visa are required to enrol full-time unless there are special circumstances.

About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Interview | Portfolio | Apply now

Course Structure

The first year of the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) degree offers a mixture of interdisciplinary subjects that introduces you to various approaches to contemporary art.

From the second year, you will undertake study in a selected major each semester. The options are Painting, Photomedia, Screen Arts, Sculpture, Printmedia, Jewellery and Object.

In addition to your disciplinary major, you will select and complete four units of study from the Critical Studies suite.

You can take the Advanced Critical Studies unit in the last semester, which allows you to undertake extended research on a topic of your choice.

You will also complete four elective units of study chosen from a suite of Sydney College of the Arts studio-style electives, the Critical Studies suite, or other faculties’ units of study.


Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio Foundation: Complete two trans-disciplinary projects Studio 1: Choose two disciplinary areas
Critical studies: Comptemporary Art: an introduction Critical studies: The avant-garde
Contemporary Drawing 1 Contemporary Drawing 2


Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio 2: Choose your discipline major Studio 3: Choose two disciplinary major
Critical studies Critical studies
Elective Elective


Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio 4: continue your discipline major Studio 5: continue your discipline major
Critical studies Critical studies
Elective Elective

About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Interview | Portfolio | Apply now









About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Interview | Portfolio | Apply now

How to apply

You must lodge an application for the Bachelor of Visual Arts either as a preference with the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) (domestic applicants), or directly to the University of Sydney yourself, or through an overseas representative (international applicants). If you are an international applicant and applying on the basis of a current Australian Year 12 secondary school examination or a New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 3, then you need to apply through the Universities Admissions Centre.

To be eligible for admission to the Bachelor of Visual Arts you will also need to submit a portfolio of your artwork.

Portfolio submission (UAC applicants only)

You may choose to present your portfolio in one of two ways. You may present it in-person at a Portfolio Day or by sending it electronically to Sydney College of the Arts.

If you submit the portfolio electronically, you will need to include a short statement of between 200-250 words describing one of the more developed projects in your portfolio.

About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Portfolio | Apply now


What is a portfolio?

A portfolio presents a sample of your artistic interests and explorations. It is carefully and thoughtfully arranged, and documents your ideas, experiments, skills and the process you use to make your work.

We want to see your portfolio because we need to gain an understanding of who you are – your abilities, commitment and passions. Your portfolio tells us about the kind of artist you want to be.

What should I include in my portfolio?

Choose up to 10 different pieces to display. When you pick a portfolio format, make sure it presents each piece in the best way possible, and takes into account how you will transport and display your work in an interview.

No two portfolios are the same and, because we are a contemporary art school, we know each of our applicants will have an individual style. The choices you make in compiling your portfolio will give us some insight into the type of work and ideas you value, and the creative approaches that have inspired you to focus on visual art studies.

In most cases you will present your work to our staff at a Portfolio Day, so think of it as a platform for a conversation about yourself. Which work will help you talk about your artistic interests? Are there pieces that will show us your ability to stick to a project even if it was challenging? What will show us that you are motivated to work hard and are not afraid to take risks?

Sometimes it is better to have a small number of very strong work than a large selection that includes some weaker pieces. Variety can be important, but don’t leave out good work just to make room for something in a different media or style.

We are very interested in any self- initiated work you may have, or projects you have developed outside your course or your classes. If you worked on these projects with other people, make sure you are clear about your role in the collaboration and acknowledge the contributions of others.

We are asking you to show us who you are, and that you want to learn, investigate and develop ideas.

How do I show development?

Try to include some work that displays a larger investment of time and effort. This might be clear because of the way you constructed the work, or the materials you sourced. It might be apparent from the story you can tell about the process, and through your support material.

Sketchbooks are a good way to illustrate ideas, plans and experiments, and show us how you think. If you have recorded your ideas in a visual diary or notebook, bring it to the interview. Your panel will be interested to see how you develop your initial ideas through research and by trying things out. Not everything in your portfolio needs to be a finished, polished work.

Through this process, you’ll be able to show us that you are able to make your ideas come to life, and that you can communicate them well.

During your interview, we will listen to the way you talk about projects. You can support this conversation by showing us work that has a clear or inventive connection between your ideas and the materials and process you used to express them.

A portfolio is always a work in progress. As you develop as an artist, you will edit and refine your portfolio over and over again. The work in your portfolio is always just a sample of your experience and capabilities.

What if I can't make it to a Portfolio Day?

If you can’t present your portfolio at one of our Portfolio Days , please include a short statement of between 200-250 words describing some of the more developed projects in your portfolio. Include information about the ideas and processes involved in generating the work. Write some details of whatever activities or experiences support your creative interests, and what you hope to achieve through your studies at SCA.

Where can I get more advice on making my portfolio?

Every year we run several Portfolio Days and an information evening on campus. We encourage you to bring your portfolio along, even though you might not have selected or finished all the works.

We will look at your portfolio in progress and make recommendations about what to include and how to present it.

But you should get started before then!

Assembling your work can take time, so start early and get some feedback from your art teacher or another art professional. Get as much work together as you can, and then edit.

Think about the placement and order of the work. You should begin and end with your best work.

We are happy to see the actual work, but this might not be practical if the work is big or delicate, or is no longer in your possession. Taking digital photographs is a standard way to document your work – you just need to make sure you have chosen the most suitable format. For example, 3D work might require documentation from more than one viewpoint.

Alternatively, you might have a series of artworks, in which case you can provide digital images of each element of the series. Check the colour, lighting and clarity of your photographs so that we don’t miss important details. And make sure the digital files are formatted and sized appropriately.

Portfolio elements

We see portfolios in many styles and it is not necessary to purchase a black portfolio case or mount your photographs on display boards.

You can provide up to ten (10) examples in the following ways:

  • Actual examples of your work at one of our Portfolio Days
  • Digital photographs of your work (JPG or PDF), page layouts, illustrations, digital photography (JPG or PDF). Individual files should be less than 1MB for each image or, if you make a PDF with multiple images, it should be less than 10MB
  • Website or other dedicated site such as a Vimeo channel (please provide the site address/es in a Word or PDF document)
  • Excerpts of film, animation or digital video work (.MOV). Make sure each film is less than 10MB

If you are unable to attend a Portfolio Day and are submitting your portfolio electronically instead, please compile 10 images of your work into a single Word or PDF file. Images should be 72dpi. If your work includes video and sound you can also submit a selection of sequences compiled into a showreel and saved in MOV format. The maximum file size for uploading your portfolio is 10MB.

If you are still unsure, bring your portfolio to one of SCA’s Portfolio Days for feedback and advice from our academic staff.

About the BVA | Course structure | Majors | How to apply | Interview | Portfolio | Apply now