Bachelor of Design (Product)

During this hands-on programme, you’ll learn how to approach the design of products, services and systems keeping human needs, use, and sustainability as your core focus. You’ll design, build and test prototypes to understand concepts and to gain skills in conceptualisation, drawing, modelmaking, Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, graphic design and production methods. You will graduate well-equipped for the workforce, with transferable skills in project management, communication, marketing and idea generation.

About the programme

Product Design is an exciting, ever-evolving profession focused on designing objects and systems to improve the way we live.

As a product designer you could work for corporations, manufacturers, consultancies and in the public sector, working to create specialised equipment with multidisciplinary teams that include doctors, researchers and engineers.

You'll graduate well-equipped for the workforce, with transferable skills in project management, communication, marketing and idea generation.

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.

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
  • Valuable industry experience that gives you key connections
  • A range of international exchange opportunities with global partner institutions
  • Human-centred approaches, manufacturing processes and aesthetic considerations to enhance your concepts and ideas
  • A balanced curriculum of theoretical content and studio-based projects
  • Highly personalised learning with small classes and plenty of one-on-one support
  • World-class technology, CAD suites and technical support that will provide you with all the tools you need to get the most out of your learning
  • Employers want our Product Design graduates for their problem-solving abilities, agile thinking and teamwork. In this programme you'll design, build and test prototypes to understand and refine concepts and cultivate your skills in:
    • conceptualisation
    • drawing
    • model-making
    • CAD software
    • graphic design
    • production methods.


Year one 

You'll develop a foundation of skills and techniques that allow you to practice as a product designer. These include hands-on skills such as sketching, prototyping and material technologies, as well as human-centred design principles, ergonomics, design history and research skills, 3D modelling software and Adobe Creative Suite. In design studios, you'll respond to a project brief, drawing on all your learning to design and create your own products. 

Year two 

The second year introduces you to design for sustainability strategies and design thinking for entrepreneurship. In the studio project, you'll work on a client brief to learn about the commercial realities of designing for the real world. At the same time, you'll also learn to develop more advanced skills and techniques in understanding materials and production processes, and modelling software. 

Year three 

Take your design to the next level and apply advanced design research skills and production processes to respond to a client brief, working either in a team or individually. You're encouraged to bring in a project brief of your own interest and work in a real-world context. 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! 

First aid and using equipment safely

You'll be working with wood, metal, plastics, textiles, painting plants and equipment. There are risks and potential hazards in the workspaces and studios. We will let you know about them before you start the programme and we will train you in first aid and in how to use the workshop and studio equipment safely on your own. 

You will also have significant exposure to working with design software and be required to have computer health and safety training. 

Your tutors 

Machiko Niimi

Machiko is interested in Human Centred Design and likes looking at what we do everyday and how this affects our behaviour. Machiko values both applied methods and the practice of design to increase sustainability of products and services. 

Gavin O'Brien 

Gavin is a design historian and a cross-disciplinary educator with 20 years’ experience in teaching. He has a diverse background of research, practice and education across fine arts, design and architecture and is interested in the intersection of culture and technology. He considers that 'Design is making sense of things' and has has a passion for products that provoke this understanding.

Andrew Wallace

Andrew loves exploring the process of designing and learning new ways to express ideas. Coming to design education with an  industry background, he remains active within industry.   

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.

A change for 2023 enrolments

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2023, 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. The great news is that this enables us to share skills and knowledge across a network of passionate education providers, to better help you succeed. Enrolling in programmes that start in 2023, means that 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.