BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD

Bachelor of Visual Arts USYD - Fact Sheet

Are you interested in studying Visual Arts at USYD, but aren’t sure what to expect?

We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to see what the course is like, the sort of subjects you’ll take, course culture, societies and more.

Let’s jump right in!

What is a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD?
Core Units and Majors
How to Get into a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD?

A Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD is a 3 year degree that guides you into different fields of art-making, from glass and ceramics to painting and sculpting. 

You can complete this as a single degree or in a combined degree with a Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Visual Arts at USYD is part of the Sydney College of the Arts, commonly known as the SCA — at the SCA you’ll have access to such a wide range of tools, resources and facilities for art-making!

Bachelor of Visual Arts USYD - Student Quote


Although Visual Arts at USYD is a 3 year degree, you can also complete Honours which is an additional year of study. A weighted average mark (WAM) of 65 is required to be accepted into the Honours program. 

In Honours you’ll focus on a specific area of art-making from the list below. You’ll produce a research paper alongside an artwork (whether that be an exhibit, performance or installation).

    • Jewellery and object
    • Painting
    • Photomedia
    • Print Media
    • Screen Arts
    • Sculpture
    • Dissertation

Career Paths

There’s a huge range of career paths that you can delve into after studying Visual Arts at USYD. Of course, your options vary depending on which major you choose, which you can read about later on in this article!

Here are some roles you could potentially end up in:

    • Artist
    • Technician
    • Arts worker (admin, managing and curating)
    • Art education
    • Art therapy
    • Art consultant

Core Units and Majors

Visual Arts at USYD is a very flexible degree which gives you the opportunity to choose from a large number of selective subjects. This allows you to focus on a specific area of art making.

The two core subjects you have to take in first year are CAVA1001 and CAVA1002, which are two levels of Visual Art Foundational subjects. 

In Visual Art Foundation 1, you are given the opportunity to explore both 2 and 3 dimensional art. You take on two, 6-week projects and immerse yourself into the variety of art processes at SCA.

Visual Art Foundation 2 extends on the first subject as you learn about 4 dimensional art, which involves screenwork. You are given the opportunity to experiment and try out different art making processes. 


As for majors, you choose your specific field of interest in second year. This way you get time in first year to try out a little bit of everything and figure out what it is you want to major in.

You also have the option to choose a second major from the shared pool!

PaintingOf course a major in painting involves a lot of, you guessed it, painting! However, you also dive into a whole lot of art history and theoretical practices to enhance your understanding of painting, from painting techniques to capturing scenes or still life. 
PhotomediaThis major has a greater focus on the contemporary art landscape. You’ll develop your technical skills in using different photographic equipment. You also get to create projects that experiment with documentary photography, film and video, alongside analogue and digital photo media. 
Sculpture and ObjectIn this major you immerse yourself in 3D art marking. You’re given the opportunity to work with a variety of mediums such as pottery, jewellery, glass and metal. 

Are there any internships?

There are no internships or work placements for Visual Arts students at USYD. However, there are excursions to art galleries and other field experiences!

Alongside this, there is the Industry and Community Project (CAEL3998) which you take in first year. This unit provides you with the opportunity to apply your understanding of art and art-making to a community or industry problem. 

Similarly, Interdisciplinary Impact (CAEL3999) is a unit offered in third year that gives you the opportunity to build on, and utilise your skills gained in VIsual Arts whilst answering real world problems and scenarios. 


How to Get into a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD

The ATAR requirement for Visual Arts at USYD is 70. However there are multiple alternative admission pathways that you can take so you don’t have to rely on your ATAR!

Alternate Pathways

For instance, the Early Offer Year 12 Scheme (E12) is a common alternative pathway if you have experienced financial difficulties or live in a regional area. You can alternatively apply directly to the university, rather than through UAC, with a portfolio.

You can find out more about this process and the portfolio requirements here!

The Creative Arts Special Admissions Scheme (CASAS) is also offered to Year 12 Students on an audition and portfolio basis. 

Are there any prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD, however it is recommended to have studied Visual Arts or Design and Technology in high school. 


If you’re looking for scholarships in Visual Arts at USYD, there is an array of faculty awards offered to students. 

The Zelda Stedman Artist Scholarship is a $2000 fund for domestic students at the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) who are experiencing financial barriers. 

The Jerome De Costa Memorial Undergraduate Degree Show Bursary is a scholarship for a third year Visual Arts student awarded after completing their studio specialisation or have performed well in their end of year exhibit.

What’s the Teaching Format?

USYD runs in a semester format, and for Visual Arts you can expect to have your standard lectures and tutorials alongside seminars, workshops and plenty of studio time!

Class Structure

Bachelor of Visual Arts - Class Structure


Lectures, depending on the subject, go over the theoretical aspects of the topic at hand. Often this delves into art history and theoretical works. You’ll encounter the most amount of students within one class in lectures, with 120 students in attendance.


Tutorials are smaller classes, of 15 to 20 students, where more discussion based activities take place. These classes are normally for more theoretical subjects where you may have to work on group assignments or prepare for upcoming essays. 


Workshop classes give you time in a practical environment to use the resources and equipment at SCA. Depending on the subject you are taking the workshop for, you may get to work with ceramics and pottery wheels.

There are also jewellery, metal, woodwork and glass workshops where you get to fine-tune specialised skills when working with these mediums. These classes are even smaller than tutes with 10 to 15 students attending.

How much time do you spend on campus?

In terms of actual classes, you can expect to be on campus for around 12-15 hour a week. However, you’re often in studios and workshops in your own time to work on projects and use the resources and equipment available to you as a Visual Arts student.


In Visual Arts at USYD, you’ll create a lot of major artworks and you can also expect to write a couple major essays. Interestingly, you won’t have any exams, at all, throughout this degree! 

Generally, at the end of each semester you’ll have a major project due. You may also have interviews about your project, which gives you the opportunity to present to teachers and occasionally the rest of the class, where you can explain the concept and artwork. 

There are also a couple of group projects, however these aren’t common and are usually for the more theoretical subjects rather than the practical units. 

Skills That You Develop

Bachelor of Visual Arts - Skills

In Visual Arts at USYD you’ll gain a whole range of skills relevant to the art world. You learn how to talk and respond to art alongside skills in managing your own art making. This is a process that involves designing, sketching, prototyping and executing an installation or exhibit. 

In terms of technical skills, you gain practical experience in ceramics and pottery, woodworking, metal fabrication, glass making, painting, sketching, and designing. 

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?


The Faculty at SCA are mostly practicing or fairly senior academics. Some might say that because of this, the content and readings in Visual Arts at USYD are particularly outdated. 

Although learning about older artworks are vital in broadening your knowledge in Visual Arts, it’s also great to keep yourself familiarised with new and upcoming art. The technical staff at SCA are also greatly appreciated by Visual Arts students as they help you bring your idea or concept to life, and help you understand the practical side of creating art. 

“The technical staff were so supportive and are invaluable! They’re an engineer consultant, a teacher and a friend all in one role… They can look at your sketch and know how to go about making it.” — Kalanjay Dhir


The culture at SCA is considered very relaxed and less structured compared to other art schools. You are given the freedom to work in your own time and make the most of the resources and art-making facilities available to you. 

“Some people struggled with the lack of direction and freedom, but I really benefited from it… It was a matter of how much you put in is how much you get back.” — Kalanjay Dhir

Once you choose your major, you become closer with a smaller cohort of students! 

“It was really communal, particularly in sculpture… In sculpture, everyone was friendly because we were making huge projects and needed each other’s help, like with technical problems, suspending 100 kilos or concrete or lifting 200 kilos of steel.” — Kalanjay Dhir


The most common society for Visual Arts students at USYD is the Sydney College of the Arts Student Society (SCASS). With SCASS you can get involved with art workshops, competitions and a range of networking experiences!

Support and Mentoring

With Visual Arts at USYD, teachers and the overall faculty are approachable and incredibly helpful. They are always there to provide support and guidance on your projects!

Learn about the pros and cons of a Bachelor of Visual Arts at USYD here!

Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.


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