Bachelor of Design (Communication)

Learn how to craft ideas and tell stories through still and moving images, text, sound, and interactive media. You will develop industry-ready skills during this hands-on programme and have the chance to practise these during community and client-driven projects that focus on positive social and environmental change. In year one, you’ll study a broad range of different media to discover where your strengths lie before choosing your speciality for years two and three.

About the programme

Use your creativity and vision to communicate original and exciting ideas.

Communication Designers communicate information visually. During this hands-on degree, you'll learn to tell stories through still and moving images, text and interactive media. You'll develop industry-ready skills and use project-based learning to apply them to the community- and client-driven projects that have a focus on positive social and environmental change.

Specialise in:

  • Graphic design and typography
  • Illustration, animation and character design
  • UX for game design
  • Visual design for games
  • 3D modelling and world-building
  • Game narratives and interactive fiction
  • Web design and mobile app design
  • Film and photography, or
  • Social media content design and strategy. 

Interested in a career in the games industry?

We now offer the option to study this degree with a game design focus. You'll develop skills and knowledge specific to game design during most of this programme and will enjoy the chance to gain valuable practical experience through project and client work. You'll graduate with a Bachelor of Design (Communication), frontend game design skills and a portfolio of games you've created!

Career options include a Lead Designer or Level Designer, Game Artist or Animator, Gameplay Designer or Narrative Designer, Game Prototyping, Video Design and Technology, Multimedia Specialist, User Experience Designer, Technical Artist or Creative Director.  

Studying part-time 

We know that full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer a six-year, part-time option for studying this programme.

Want your existing skills recognised?

If you have work experience and skills in this area, you may be able to complete an independent learning pathway to achieve this qualification in a shorter timeframe.

Our assessment of prior learning centre, offers a 10 month full-time / 18-20 month part-time work-based learning option. 

Find out more >

An Otago Polytechnic design degree allows you to develop specialist and transferable skills that are sought after by employers but also well-suited to entrepreneurship and self-employment. 

You'll graduate as a work-ready designer with strengths in your chosen design field. You'll also have an understanding of your responsibilities as a designer, learning to design better experiences, create more responsive products and services and consider people, planet and place in the process. 

Throughout your degree, you'll have the opportunities to work with design students from other disciplines and develop communication, organisational and collaboration skills through electives, interdisciplinary, individual and team-based projects.

Benefits of studying with us
  • You'll gain valuable practical experience from projects.
  • You'll spend 100 weeks in a design studio environment
  • You'll work with our highly-skilled, award-winning tutors.
  • You'll be prepared for a broad range of creative careers.


Year one

We want you to have a broad skill set so, in year one, you'll study a little bit of everything from a wide range of subjects. 

In the first half of your degree, you'll develop and advance skills and see where your strengths lie before you choose your specialty pathway for years two and three. Subjects include: 

  • Graphic design and typography 
  • Illustration, animation and character design 
  • Visual design for games 
  • 3D modelling and world building 
  • Game narratives and interactive fiction 
  • Web design and mobile app design 
  • Film and photography 
  • Communication and storytelling 
  • Campaign design for social media 
  • Research and reflective practice. 
Year two 

Start to specialise with pathways in graphic design, photography and illustration, to web, apps, film and photography or our new visual design for games path. Gain more in-depth skills then apply them using design strategies relevant to your media. At the end of year two, you'll be working in teams on your first client-based project. 

Year three 

Take your designing to the next level through a combination of group and individual projects, client-based and independent, in the media (or combination) of your choice. By the end of the year, you'll have built up a portfolio that will help you take the next step in your design career. 

Further study options

Advance your design skills with our graduate or postgraduate qualifications in Design or Art, or expand your career prospects with a graduate teacher training programme.

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.