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.


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus


1 Year Full-time
*Approximate full qualification tuition fee
On campus

What You Study


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.


Your workload

You will be expected to spend around 12 hours per week in directed study and work-based learning, and a further 26 hours a week in self-managed study.


Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements are:

  • The Bachelor of Design (discipline endorsed) Level 7 OR an equivalent qualification at bachelor level or above, with an overall grade of B+ or higher in your final year, Level 7 courses. Please send us certified copies of your undergraduate degree transcript and other relevant qualifications. 
  • A physical or digital portfolio that demonstrates a depth of engagement with creative work relevant to your field. Please see below for more information.
  • Commencement of your Honours study must occur within five years of the successful completion of your undergraduate degree. Exceptions require the approval of the Postgraduate Coordinator based on advice from the relevant academic leader and the supervisor.
  • International applicants must demonstrate that they have equivalent experience/qualifications as domestic applicants.
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Other requirements 
  • We may decide that you need to undertake an interview and/or entry task. We'll contact you if this is necessary.

Your portfolio

You need to provide a portfolio that consists of current and recent examples of your work that demonstrate your creative process and ability and depth of engagement in your proposed field of research.

Find out what you need to include in your portfolio, what we're looking for, and how to submit it here. 

Selection process

An interview panel consisting of the Postgraduate Coordinator and relevant postgraduate supervisors will interview and select applicants. Where there are more applicants than places, candidates will be prioritised on the basis of:

  • strength of academic record
  • breadth and depth of their portfolio
  • an entry task that validates existing skills and knowledge.

Applicants who do not meet the entry or selection criteria will be directed to a path of study to help prepare them for application in the future.

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of prior learning including Cross Credit or Credit Transfer is offered for up to 60 credits in this programme. This process will normally apply to a student who has completed formal study at an equivalent level at Otago Polytechnic or another institution.

Advanced Standing is available for up to 60 credits of this programme through the process of Assessment of Prior Learning. Students may use a combination of formal and informal learning experiences to support their application.

Please note: the Major Research Project is not eligible for credit recognition. 


Domestic fees

Full tuition

International fees

Full tuition

Additional costs 

You will be expected to meet the cost of project materials.

Tuition fees

The tuition fees shown above are approximate only. There may be a slight fee increase per year once Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) rules and guidelines are applied. These fees also don’t include additional costs or living costs.


How to apply

To apply for this programme just click the blue 'Apply now' button above.

Applications are preferred by 30 November, or mid-May for a July start.

Late applications will be accepted if spaces are still available, after which waitlists will apply.

You'll need to submit a portfolio when you apply for this programme.

Find out what you need to include in your portfolio, what we're looking for, and how to submit it.

Get in touch

0800 762 786
International +64 3 477 3014