Bachelor of Design (Honours)

If you have already achieved excellence in your undergraduate degree, this postgraduate qualification is a great opportunity to extend and deepen your knowledge and understanding of design research methods and professional design practice. Graduates of this programme will be well prepared for further postgraduate study or employment in a design creative lead role.

About the programme

If you have already achieved excellence in your undergraduate degree, this intensive postgraduate qualification is your chance to further your understanding of design research methods and professional design practice through advanced research and engagement with contemporary thinking.

It's taught in a multi-disciplinary environment which means that your design projects can focus on one discipline e.g. fashion, communication, visual arts, product, spatial design, or span and connect disciplines such as interaction design, fashion communication, accessories, food design, multimedia projects, event and experience design (to name a few).

Graduates of this programme are eligible to apply for our:

Studying part-time 

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer this programme part-time over two years.


A preliminary project proposal helps us to understand what motivates and inspires you to study at postgraduate level. It also allows us to determine if your area fits within our areas of expertise.

This one-year, full-time programme is comprised of 120 credits at Level 8, divided into two semesters of 60 credits each.

First semester

Professional Design Context (15 credits)

Develop an understanding of professional design practices, conventions, and professional and legislative frameworks applicable to specific design disciplines and examine what it means to be a sustainable design practitioner from multiple perspectives - cultural, social, environmental, and economic.

Design Research Methods (15 credits)

Explore a range of design research methods and methodologies and develop an understanding of the context in which research takes place in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. You will use this background exploration to develop a literature/context/artefact review and proposal for an applied design project/major research project which incorporates appropriate methodologies.

Applied Design Project 1 (30 credits)

This project, either individual or team-based, employs relevant skills and techniques and explores ideas and issues applicable to your design discipline. You will research and analyse information from a range of sources, and incorporate critique and iteration to arrive at a resolved final design outcome. Sustainability will be addressed throughout the applied research process from cultural, social, environmental and/or economic perspectives.

Second semester

Major Research Project 2 (60 credits)

This major research project allows you to develop a design brief or expand an existing project exploring skills, techniques, ideas, and issues relevant to your design discipline. Through advanced research and systematic engagement with contemporary practice and critical thinking in your chosen field, you will develop a design-led project that addresses sustainability from multiple perspectives and is presented in a public forum. The work is supported by a dissertation of 5,000-8,000 words or equivalent e.g. supporting writing for a documentary. Projects can be self- or client-driven, individual or team-based, studio- or workplace-based.

Please note: Applied Design Project 1 and Major Research Project may be treated as one larger project with two assessment points.

Further study options

Successful completion of this qualification will prepare you for further postgraduate study in our Master of Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications (or equivalent), or for a career in design or design management roles.


Studying at our School of Design brings heaps of benefits!

  • Employers love our design graduates as they are industry-ready, innovative and hard working.
  • We offer a boutique learning environment; small classes mean your lecturers know you by name and can support you to develop your own ‘design identity’.
  • You will benefit from the expertise of award-winning staff and leading industry researchers.
  • You will have access to exhibitions and international competitions to showcase your creativity.
  • Local, national and international collaboration and partnerships are at the heart of our learning philosophy.
  • We have extensive industry connections and strong links with international design networks including the Cumulus Association and The Designers Accord.
  • Our acclaimed programmes are full of individual, team and interdisciplinary learning opportunities.
  • You will enjoy studio-based learning with access to specialised equipment and spaces.

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.