Arts Scholars

Connect with a passionate community of changemakers and co-create your learning experience.

If you are someone who has ever thought that what you are passionate about is pretty amazing, wanted to open doors to new spaces and bring something back to your current ones, sought to make an impact on your communities, or wondered about the intersections between arts, business, and the sciences, then you’re an Arts Scholar.

Arts Scholars is a group of students who genuinely love to learn, and are taught and mentored by leading researchers from the Faculty of Arts and beyond.

Together, you will grapple with the social, economic, and cultural impact of a range of issues beyond your majors through group discussions, rousing debates, and personal reflection. This will prepare you not only for a variety of workplaces and careers, but help you challenge preconceptions, expand your horizons, and engage with a diversity of issues and people.

You will learn, make friends, and push yourself to the next level.

On top of the extra academic challenge, Arts Scholars also offers you individual support, one-on-one academic mentoring from our top academics, activities throughout the year, and the opportunity to become a student mentor yourself. We emphasise skills that are applicable across research and the workplace, and nurture strong leaders and engaged citizens in our Aotearoa New Zealand and wider, global context.

Programme benefits

  • Be a part of a tight-knit, passionate and engaged whānau of academic staff and students.
  • Receive individual support and guidance, including an academic mentor, throughout your degree.
  • Build on your existing cultural strengths and utilize your whānau/ainga and community networks.
  • Become a student mentor in your second and third years, and get involved in other student leadership roles.
  • Undertake a research project of your own design, a research assistantship or even a study abroad experience in your third year.
  • Attend seminars and workshops that expand your academic, personal and professional horizons.
  • Boost your employability by enhancing your skills in leadership, collaboration, communication and research.
  • Understand how to engage communities in what you do both across and outside of the University.
  • If you're applying for accommodation in our Halls of Residence, you'll get a guaranteed place in O’Rorke Hall in your first year of study if you apply by our September deadline (this includes students who live in Auckland).

Programme structure

Arts Scholars combines an innovative multi-disciplinary curriculum with a programme of workshops and social events. Our programme aims to develop your abilities in communication and teamwork, problem-solving, and resourcefulness through small seminar-style classes and experiential learning. Topics come from across the Arts, and get you involved in areas outside of what you may be studying for your majors. As an Arts Scholars whānau we will work together and learn together, building friendships and connections that will last far beyond your study here at University.

Arts Scholars is taken as a 45-point module under your BA or BA conjoint, in addition to your BA majors. Each of the three courses run full-year across both Semesters One and Two, split as 7.5 points each semester. We will work with you to structure the rest of your BA enrolments to suit your study goals. Students in a conjoint degree will normally take a single major in their Arts component, and can pair a second module alongside Arts Scholars.



Introduces students to research in the real world through a sequence of weekly 90-minute discussion seminars, each featuring invited presenters from areas of discipline-based expertise addressing a common topic. Students will build their own expertise with Arts disciplines by considering the central topic in a range of possible contexts through class discussion, group work, and individual reflection.

*Students who apply for admission to Arts Scholars in their second year of study may seek a concession to replace ARTSCHOL 100 with an alternative approved Arts course.


The 'Great Works' course engages students with great works from a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, including from Māori, Pacific, non-western, and underrepresented writers. Staff from across the Faculty of Arts present seminars on key works in their fields. These may be standard texts that any expert in the field might teach or expect to be known, but they may also be lesser known works that seminar givers have a particular interest in that they wish to share.


This is the final project of the Arts Scholars programme. Students will attend a small number of seminars, but their primary work will be self-directed and may involve significant independent and/or group-based learning under academic supervision. This might include a research project, research apprenticeship, or work placement with an iwi or other dynamic community or corporate group.  

Social events and workshops

Social events and workshops complete the Arts Scholars experience, supporting whanaungatanga and helping you to extend your personal and professional development. They also aim to give you an extra edge when it comes to leadership and presentation skills and do not require any additional coursework. These workshops can also be included on your CV. Social events are varied, and range from after-hours study sessions to field trips and special lectures. These are optional, but a great way to spend some time out of the classroom with your Arts Scholars whānau.

How to apply

Places in the programme are limited, and you will be assessed on four criteria: your Arts Scholars application, an essay, a reference from a teacher, community leader, or other person, and your academic achievements. Successful applicants will be chosen based on a full consideration of all four aspects of their application.

Arts Scholars application

The Arts Scholars application asks you a number of questions about yourself that allow the Selection Committee the chance to get to know you better. You are encouraged to have a look at the questions and draft your responses before submitting your application.


You will submit a 500-word essay on your choice of one of the following questions:

  • "Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are." Describe a concept, topic, or idea that you find so captivating it makes you lose all track of time. What makes it so appealing to you? Who do you turn to or where do you go to learn more?
  • How would Kupe have seized power in Rome? What choices would Churchill make in the Hunger Games? Mash up a historical, literary, or pop cultural figure with a different conflict or challenge, and tell us their story.
  • Pick a challenge, setback, or failure that a character faced in a story (myth, book, song, film, comic book, etc). What do you think about their actions and choices?

In answering the application and essay questions, you should be serious where it’s called for, but also comfortable taking a risk or being playful if it suits you. Your essay will be considered for its content and your engagement with the question, not your particular choice of question.


We require a reference from either a teacher (Year 12 or Year 13), community leader (e.g. sports coach, club or religious leader), or someone you feel can speak to your character. This may include members of your whānau/ainga. In selecting your referee, you should consider who might best be able to represent your personal qualities.

The reference form should be posted or emailed to us in pdf format by your referee, and must be post-marked or sent before the application due date.

Academic results

Students who have been accepted in past years generally have either:

  • NCEA Level 3 rank score of 240 or higher
  • CIE rank score of 290 or higher
  • IB rank score of 31 or higher
  • Grade point equivalent (GPE) of at least 5.0
  • Grade point average (GPA) of at least 5.0 in their first year of tertiary study

If you think that you may achieve below this, we still encourage you to apply. To calculate your estimated rank score, use our Rank Score Calculator.

We will confirm your final results when these are released.

Please note: Other applicants may be considered under exceptional circumstances.

Make sure that you have applied for admission to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Arts conjoint before you apply for the Arts Scholars programme.

Special considerations for 2021 admissions

For 2021, in recognition of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be paying more attention to applicants' Year 12 results and being flexible in our expectations of Year 13 results.

If you are interested in this programme, but feel your Year 13 results may have been adversely affected by the public health crisis, please put in an application and let us know on the application form how your Year 13 studies have been impacted. We will read the application and assess your results keeping in mind that 2020 has been a challenging year.

Closing dates

Applications for Arts Scholars for 2021 have closed and we are in the process of assessing on-time applications to this programme.

If you missed out on the original December deadline you are still able to apply to the Arts Scholars Programme. Late applications close Friday 29 January, and spaces are limited and dependent on availability.


If you have questions about the Arts Scholars programme, you can contact Deborah Montgomerie at