At UNSW School of Art & Design we understand that creative talent is expressed in all sorts of different forms. Some students write brilliantly. Some secure high marks in their high school subjects. Some demonstrate their creative potential by producing promising art, design and media work.
At UNSW School of Art & Design we look for creative talent. As such, some students are admitted solely on their ATAR and some are identified by demonstrating their creative potential by preparing and submitting a portfolio of art, design, media or written work.
If you have a sufficient ATAR you can gain entry into our programs, by applying directly through UAC.
However, if your ATAR is lower than the entry score to our programs, but you possess a strong art, design or digital media portfolio, we would like to see it.
After all, UNSW School of Art & Design is about great art, design and ideas. Submitting a portfolio can boost your chances of admission to Australia’s leading school of art and design.
Portfolio submissions for Term 2 are now being accepted.
To be considered for an offer in UAC May Round 1, you must complete your submission by 5pm, Friday 7 May.
Tips, Tricks & Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can submit a portfolio for entry to UNSW School of Art & Design?
- I want to do a double degree with another Faculty. Do I need to submit a portfolio?
- Why do I need to provide a portfolio?
- What is being looked for in a portfolio?
- Does the portfolio need to be professionally compiled?
- How do I submit my portfolio?
- Can I send a hardcopy of my portfolio in the mail?
- Do I still have to apply through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC)?
- I took a gap year do I need to submit a portfolio?
- I want to transfer from TAFE/college or another university; do I need to submit a portfolio?
- Will adjustment factors be counted in determining whether I have made the expected cut-off?
- How will places be allocated to applicants?
- Will I be able to get any feedback on the assessment of my portfolio?
Domestic students who have a preference for any of the following degrees at UNSW and are expecting an ATAR (or equivalent) within 10 points of the cut-off:
So for example, if you are looking to study Fine Arts and are expecting an ATAR of about 77, you should submit a portfolio. If you are expecting an ATAR of more than 80, you do not need to submit a portfolio.
- Design, UAC Code: 421100
- Fine Arts (Studio Practice or Art Theory), UAC Code: 421000
- Media Arts, UAC Code: 421200
You must meet the entry requirement for the double degree independent of the portfolio, therefore portfolios are not considered for double degree entry. We encourage double degree applicants to list a stand-alone Art & Design program as one of their preferences, the portfolio will be considered for the stand-alone preference only.
Using the ATAR as a single selection criterion has not always provided an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their aptitude for creative study. Portfolios will complement your academic achievement and provide an opportunity for you to provide additional material that demonstrates your ability in appropriate creative disciplines.
UNSW School of Art & Design is looking for demonstrable potential as an artist, designer or theorist, with a commitment to succeed in creative studies.
To demonstrate this, the portfolio will need to include:
- A cover letter that explains your interest in studying at UNSW School of Art & Design, and your interest in the degree (or degrees if you have more than one preference). The letter should tell us about your interests and achievements and be no more than 400 words.
- Contact details for two referees. For instance, teachers, principals, coaches or employers who we may contact to tell us something about you and your ability to succeed at UNSW.
- Written or visual material consisting of one of the following:
no more than 6 images with captions or short statements (256 character maximum); or
a video or animation or website; or
a 500-word critical review as outlined below
Critical Review Topic
Imagine you are a critic for a newspaper with an educated but non-specialist audience. You are asked to write a review of a current temporary exhibition or festival program.
You can choose broadly including art and design exhibitions, or new media displays. The purpose is to inform your audience and to provide some context or background for the work.
You will need to both describe and comment on the work. The purpose is to foreground your own interpretation so you are not required to do any additional research or provide biographical details for the artists or producers.
Some general advice:
- Have someone check your work for spelling and grammar, but ultimately the work must be your own and not copied from someone or somewhere else
- Submit only your best work if you have lots to choose from
- If making or assembling isn’t your best skill, showcase what is. If research or enquiry is your best skill, consider the essay question.
No! The portfolio is just a small sample of the work you have done, as well as a demonstration of your passion for the degree you are applying for. We want to see your work – not someone else’s.
Portfolios need to be submitted online using the portfolio submission website.
No. Hard copies of portfolios sent by mail will not be assessed or retained.
Yes, all applicants must lodge a UAC application for admission, and all offers will be made through UAC.
If you achieved an ATAR (or equivalent) above the expected cut-off, you do not need to submit a portfolio. If your ATAR (or equivalent) is within 10 points of the expected cut-off, you will need to submit a portfolio if you would like to be considered for admission.
Students looking to transfer from another university or TAFE/college are invited to submit a portfolio and it will be considered alongside previous academic achievement.
Yes. For instance, if you are applying to Fine Arts (Hons) and have an ATAR of 77 and receive four HSC plus adjustment factors you will be competitive for admission to the degree without the requirement of a portfolio. Information about UNSW adjustment factor schemes is available here.
If you aren’t sure you will make the expected cut-off (including any adjustment factors you may be eligible for), you should submit a portfolio. Better safe than sorry!
You must, however, have an ATAR, without adjustment factors, within 10 points of the expected cut-off to be eligible for a place under the Portfolio entry scheme.
All offers are made through UAC in the usual way, ie. we fill available places starting with the highest ranked students and work down the ranked list until we have made all the offers we can down to the expected cut-off.
If there are places remaining, applicants who have submitted a portfolio and are within 10 points of the cut-off will be re-ranked based on a combination of a portfolio score and ATAR (or equivalent). The remaining places will be offered to applicants in ranked order until remaining available places have been allocated.
Unfortunately, due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to provide individual feedback to applicants. Offers will be made to eligible applicants via UAC.
If you can’t find the information you’re looking for or would like to speak with one of our advisors, please don’t hesitate to contact us.