About

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.

Specialise in your passion

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.

Be taught by the best

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.

Practical Experience

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.

Flexibility

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.

Majors

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

You will have the option of completing a second major in Critical Studies. Critical Studies provides the theoretical concepts and historical context which are required for an in-depth understanding of contemporary art practice.

In Critical Studies you will be immersed in current themes and debates in contemporary art, and exposed to individual artists’ practices. You will be provided with the analytical tools required to inform your practice, make sense of the art world, and develop your critical voice.

You will undertake research, engage in seminars, discussion groups and online forums, visit and review exhibitions, and write catalogue and other analytical essays. You will be encouraged to apply these critical skills to your own work and to that of other artists, writers, and curators.

Graduate opportunities

By completing a second major in Critical Studies, you will be qualified to establish a career in a variety of arts professions, including contemporary art curating, art criticism, arts management, and art education (with additional postgraduate qualifications).

A second major in Critical Studies will also give you a distinct advantage when applying for postgraduate degrees in fine arts and related fields such as museum studies and art curating, because it provides you with high-level analytical, research and writing skills in art history and theory.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

Jewellery and Object operates in a vibrant cultural space which has sprung from the expanded field of contemporary jewellery and metalsmithing.

The Jewellery and Object major explores concepts and techniques fundamental to the making of human-scale works. Building on formal metalsmithing skills, broad experimentation is encouraged with the aim of developing a rich and individual visual language.

You will engage in conceptual and practical investigations through projects designed to develop ideas and expression, while acquiring technical and material knowledge.

By providing an introduction to a diverse range of materials and processes, the course encourages work of both a utilitarian and conceptual nature. Your work may take the form of exhibition pieces, small runs of production work, design for manufacture, or commissioned art works for a range of contexts including the gallery, shop and street.

Graduate opportunities

Jewellery and Object graduates become practising artists such as jewellers and object designers, producing exhibition work, as well as establishing production lines. The skills and knowledge they acquire are transferable across disciplines and media. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture-related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, set and exhibition design, public art and product design.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

By choosing to major in Painting, you will learn about historical and contemporary concepts and techniques. You will undertake focused and self-initiated projects in which you will explore painting as a contemporary practice. Painting is impacted by such elements as the object itself, the colour and surface, installation and arrangement, the idea of the ‘readymade’, typography, photography and digital processes.

The Painting major concentrates on an understanding of materials and how to use them, of representational and non-objective art, and of the intellectual possibilities inherent in the conception, production and display of contemporary art. As your studies progress, you will be encouraged to develop an individual approach and to set out parameters to create an independent practice.

In Painting, we believe that the purpose of providing technical instruction is to equip you with the tools to realise your ideas and concepts. Our open approach to teaching has produced a wide variety of successful practitioners, from photorealists to performance artists, as well as other art professionals such as curators and writers.

Graduate opportunities

Painting graduates become practising artists such as painters, printmakers or sculptors. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture-related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, set and exhibition design, public art, product design and publishing.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

Through the Photomedia major you will be exposed to digital and analogue forms of still photography, as well as moving image, photo-installation and mixed media. As a rapidly changing medium, photography is especially rich in creative possibilities to engage with concepts and ideas.

As a Photomedia student, you will explore contemporary photography practices including social media, documentary photography, the relationship between the still and moving image, and many other areas of interest.

Photomedia fosters individual interpretations and aesthetic development, and offers the acquisition of technical skills and an enhanced engagement with research.

The course encourages intellectual and aesthetic development as well as the acquisition of appropriate skills. You will take a combination of technical instruction, research-driven assignments, group and individual work.

While you will initially work in response to assignments, you will be expected to exercise an increasing degree of specialisation and self-direction when you become a senior student.

Photomedia includes instruction in digital photomedia, chemical photography and alternative methods and processes.

Graduate opportunities

Photomedia graduates become practising artists such as photographers or multimedia designers. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture-related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, public art, digital imaging, commercial photography, film, stop motion animation, the multimedia industry and publishing.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

Printmedia is focused on new work emerging from the rich conjunction of media, old and new, at the heart of the contemporary visual landscape. Drawing, photography, collage and digital imaging are the key creative mediums used in the studio.

The Printmedia major explores the use of digital and traditional print processes within a contemporary visual arts context. Work produced in the studio ranges from fine art prints to comics, from electronic publications to screenprinted garments, and from installation to large format digital prints.

The course has a well-developed digital component that covers key contemporary design programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Flash.

You will be expected to work in an independent and exploratory way, developing your own ideas through a process of experimentation, research and creative intuition.

The course is structured around a series of studio projects, which will encourage you to develop your work and creative thinking within a contemporary art and design context.

Graduate opportunities

Printmedia graduates become practising artists such as printmakers, painters, designers, publishers or sculptors. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture- related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, set and exhibition design, public art and product design.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

The Screen Arts major offers a comprehensive introduction to the media of digital film and video, sound, animation and interactive media in the context of contemporary art and cinematic practice.

Screen Arts encourages and supports the development of individual projects that have distinctive conceptual, aesthetic and technical outcomes. This includes instruction in the use of film and video cameras, location and studio sound recording techniques, location and studio lighting, digital editing and motion graphics.

You will be encouraged to explore and experiment with a wide range of media and technology. Your productions can include film, video or interactive works, animation,documentaries or experimental projects, sound or multi- screen installations.

The elective streams will enable you to acquire skills, knowledge and expertise across a range of processes including digital effects and compositing, digital editing, animation techniques, sound design for film and digital media, and screenwriting.

Graduate opportunities

Screen Arts graduates become practising artists such as video artists, filmmakers, sound artists, or interactive and multimedia designers. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture-related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, set and exhibition design, and public art.

UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR

The Sculpture major allows you to explore a broad range of approaches to contemporary sculptural practice, including ceramics and glass.

Sculpture is designed to support an expanded and inventive relationship to art-making. The flexible structure of the program will allow you to explore temporal and spatial approaches to sculptural practice, involving installations, environments, objects, structures, site-specific and public art, performance, film, video and audio works.

As a Sculpture student, you will create unique objects using the well- equipped glass, ceramic, timber and metal workshops. You will also realise your creative ideas in performances, installations, moving images and in socially engaged projects where interaction and participation outside the gallery context are key elements.

You will be assisted to develop creative ideas, intellectual autonomy and the problem-solving and technical skills that underpin a successful contemporary art practice.

You will be encouraged to experiment and critically reflect on your work when it is presented for group critique in studio meetings.

Graduate opportunities

Sculpture graduates become practising artists such as sculptors, ceramicists and glassmakers. They also enjoy careers in a wide range of art, design and culture-related fields including art education, arts administration, arts writing, curating, set and exhibition design, public art and product design.

Profiles

Brenton Alexander Smith

The best thing about studying at SCA is the guidance that you get from the academic staff. You get to learn from people who are working artists and art scholars, who not only help you with your own art practice, but can also give you valuable advice for entering the professional art industry.

The Bachelor of Visual Arts lets you explore aspects of multiple disciplines if you want to, which I think is an important thing for an artist to do in the current age.


Brenton Alexander Smith’s work deals with the use and misuse of technology, often involving the creation or adaption of dysfunctional machines that hinder the user, or behave in an absurd fashion. Other times he will explore aspects of technology (particularly cyberspace) in unusual ways in order to understand them.

Image: Brenton Alexander Smith, The Bicycle Man, digital photograph, 87 x 58 cm, 2012. Photo: Hyun Lee.

Laura Moore

Studying at SCA provides opportunity and encouragement to experiment and explore your own practice in a stimulating environment. Having teachers who are also artists that I admire is very inspiring and they manage to push me in positive and motivating ways.

Laura Moore works with photo media in both still and screen-based works. Photography as a medium is fundamental to her practice. Before Laura began studying at SCA, she worked as a commercial photographer and photojournalist. Photography was her original interest and has always played an important roll in her life and work. When she was in her late teens, another photographer told her that, “If I couldn’t take a decent picture in my own backyard, I shouldn’t be a photographer.” This comment has stayed with her ever since. Not that she literally takes pictures of her backyard, but her work is often inspired and informed by everyday life, observations and memory. She tries to be a good observer and that includes introspection. Art has given Laura a reason to examine everything more closely than she might otherwise. This method of working usually results in very personal content, but her ultimate intention is for the work to expand beyond its autobiographical nature and offer an invitation to speculation and projection.

Image: Laura Moore, Animation 1 from the series Hereinbefore, pigment print, 40 x 26.6 cm, 2012. Winner of the 2012 iD Digital Portraiture Award at the National Portrait Gallery.

Study plan

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.

What is a Major?

A major is a defined sequence of study, generally comprising specified units of study in a particular discipline area.

What is an Elective?

An elective is an optional unit of study within a degree. Electives in the BVA enable you to tailor your study to your desired outcomes.

Graduate Opportunities

The flexible course structure of the BVA allows you to keep your career choices open throughout your studies.

The course provides you with the conceptual and technical skills 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.

Further Study

If eligible, you can apply for the Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), or postgraduate coursework study in studio art, film and digital image or interactive and digital media. Honours graduates are eligible to pursue a higher degree by research.

About Honours

The Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) gives you the opportunity to extend your potential in studio-based and written research.

To be eligible, you need to have qualified for, or been awarded, an undergraduate degree in visual arts.

As an honours candidate, you may continue to work in the same discipline as your bachelor’s degree or undertake research in a different discipline. You can nominate to study either by studio project and research paper, or by dissertation and minor studio project.

Honours focuses on establishing your individual research practice, further equipping you for entry into professional practice, the Master of Fine Arts, or Doctor of Philosophy programs.

Course Structure

Year 1 Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio Foundation: Complete two trans-disciplinary projects Studio 1: Choose two disciplinary areas
Critical studies: Contemporary Art: an introduction Critical studies: The avant-garde
Contemporary Drawing 1 Contemporary Drawing 2
Year 2 Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio 2: Choose your discipline major Studio 3: Choose your discipline major
Critical Studies* Critical Studies*
Elective** Elective**
Year 3 Semester 1 Semester 2
Studio 4: continue in your discipline major Studio 5: continue in your discipline major
Critical Studies* Critical Studies*
Elective** Elective**

* Choose a unit of study from the Critical Studies suite

** Choose from the pool of SCA studio-style electives, Critical Studies units or other faculties’ units of study

Student Work

Image: Richard Carroll, People I Have Been Told.., pen and ink on paper, 2013.

Image: Suzy Faiz, The Offering, oil on acrylic on canvas, 2013.

Image: Rory Khurshed, Untitled Neckpiece #1, latex, beeswax, copper, waxed cotton and monofilament, 2013.

Image: Samuel Galileo Quinteros, 働きがいの怒りで, oil on canvas, 80 x 120 cm, 2012.

How To Apply

Domestic

International

Domestic Applicants

As a domestic applicant, you must lodge an application for the Bachelor of Visual Arts as a preference with the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC). Please refer to the current UAC guide or website (www.uac.edu.au) for application deadlines.. You can choose to present the portfolio at an interview or send it electronically or deliver a hard copy to SCA. A panel will assess your portfolio on the basis of your: critical skills; cultural awareness; communication skills; potential for skill development; evidence of resolved ideas; and creative thinking. The results of this process will form part of the ranking of applicants.

Portfolio Presentation and Interview

You will be invited to apply to attend an interview or submit your portfolio shortly after submitting your UAC application.

If you cannot attend an interview on any of these dates or submit your UAC application after the interview closing date we will ask you to submit your portfolio to SCA.

International Applicants

As an international applicant, you can apply directly to the University of Sydney yourself, or through an overseas representative (education agent). Please note: if you are 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. A panel will assess your portfolio on the basis of your: critical skills; cultural awareness; communication skills; potential for skill development; evidence of resolved ideas; and creative thinking.

Please click here to ask a question or phone 1800 899 379 (within Australia) or +61 2 8627 8300 (outside Australia).

Ancillary Expenses

Ancillary expenses are some of the additional costs associated with your degree, to ensure you have access to the best and most affordable materials during your studies.

  • As a first-year student, you will be required to pay $250 at enrolment to cover materials used in studio project assignments. Other required materials are your responsibility.

  • In second and third year, you need to provide your own materials and basic tools, which include personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • If you are enrolling in an elective, you might be required to pay an extra fee or purchase additional materials.

  • In your final year, you will be required to make a contribution towards the cost of the Degree Show exhibition and catalogue.

Guidelines

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 be there to present your work to the panel during your interview, 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 the interview?

If you can’t present your portfolio at an interview, please include a short statement (no more than one typed page) 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 Development Days 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 formats

We see portfolios in many styles and it is not necessary to purchase a black portfolio case or mount your photographs on display boards. Keep in mind that you will need to transport everything to SCA for your interview.

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

  • Actual examples of your work

  • Digital photographs of your work (JPG or PDF)
 page layouts, illustration, 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/s (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 20M

  • website or other dedicated site such as a Vimeo channel (please bring the site address in a Word or PDF document)

If you are still unsure, bring your portfolio to one of SCA’s Portfolio Development Days

Why is an interview necessary?

At SCA, we interview our applicants for admission to our degrees because we strongly believe that it is the best way to find out about you as an individual, about your art, and about your passion and commitment. It gives us a much better picture than a single score can provide.

The interview process also gives you the opportunity to check us out. An art school can be a fantastic fit for one student but not for another. The interview gives you the chance to visit our campus, meet our wonderful staff and get a feel for our faculty. It’s an essential step in ensuring that your future studies are undertaken at the art school that is right for you.

What will I be asked at the interview?

Our interview panel wants to confirm that you are able to communicate your creative ideas, and are serious about your future as an artist.

There are four broad areas that the panel will ask you about:

  • Your commitment

  • Your cultural awareness

  • Your intellectual and critical thinking skills

  • Your communication skills

The panel will ask you some simple questions to assess you in relation to each of these areas. On the subject of commitment, you might be asked why you want to come to SCA or what you want to do when you finish art school.

To assess your cultural awareness, the panel might ask you which books you have been reading, which exhibitions or films you have seen in the last year, and what you thought of them.

Where intellectual and critical thinking skills are concerned, the panel will assess your analytical ability as well as your openness to new ideas and concepts. You might be asked to describe your most significant achievements over the last two years. Alternatively, the panel might choose a piece in your portfolio and ask you to explain how you went about creating it.

The assessment of your communication skills will come down to how capable you are of clearly articulating the work in your portfolio, as well as your motivation and your enthusiasm for studying and making art.

A general tip for your interview: the more honest you are about your dreams for your future and your hopes for your education, the better we’ll be able to ensure that SCA is the right fit for you.

What will happen on the day of the interview?

You will be given a one-hour timeslot to be here at SCA. At the beginning, we will divide the applicants into small groups. As a member of one of those groups, we will speak to you about the degree and the admissions process. This will happen before your interview so that valuable interview time is not be taken up with the provision of this basic information.

The interview will take about 15 minutes and will be conducted by a panel consisting of two or three members of our academic staff.

Bring your portfolio to the interview and be prepared to talk about your work in detail.

The interview panel will want to know about your ideas, what you are interested in, and which works in your portfolio you believe are more successful than others, and why. The interview will also give you the chance to ask questions about us.

There’s no need to be nervous. Think of your interview as a unique advantage and an opportunity to show and tell us that you’re the one we want.

Ask a Question

Domestic Students

If you're a domestic student and you still need more information, you can Ask a Question through the Sydney Student Form.

International Students

International Students are able to make enquiries through the International Office.