Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice

The course is designed to take your current work environment as the basis of this qualification. It is a self-directed study where you investigate a challenge or an area at your workplace that you want to solve or develop. You can then research and define this issue, develop an approach for resolving it, and implement processes to achieve your desired outcomes.

About the programme 

Are you experienced in your professional field?

This programme is delivered through Capable NZ, our Assessment for Prior Learning Centre.

At Capable NZ, we base our philosophy on using the real-life experiences from your professional life as rich learning material. During this programme, you'll identify a challenge or goal in your work environment to research and then develop and implement an approach for resolving it. 

Because the programme may be closely aligned with your organisation’s goals, it is often strongly supported by employers as a professional development opportunity and can be studied successfully while you're working. 

What’s more, you can apply a Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice to virtually any discipline or sector. For example, sustainability, or workplace health and safety. 

Studying part-time

We know full-time study isn't always possible. We also offer a 18-20 month part-time option for this programme.

The Capable NZ difference

The Capable NZ process centres you and your own career – you’ll reflect on where you’ve come from, where you are now, and where you want to go.

You will:

  • identify early experiences and influences that have shaped you, and how these relate to your working life
  • analyse your work and life experiences and skills, and evaluate your strengths and capabilities
  • identify, access and research relevant practice theories, models, tools, frameworks, and reflect on how these might inform and influence your work
  • propose and complete a project, carried out in an organisation you work for or with, have a key functional relationship with, or in your self-employment.

One key point of difference with Capable NZ study at this level is that you will undertake an in-depth industry-relevant project. This could be an exploratory study to identify best practice nationally or internationally; the development of a resource or resources for a specific area of practice; or creating proposed guidelines for best practice. Your project is primarily to inform you, however it should also contribute to practice knowledge in your sector.

Is this for me?

This programme is ideal for employees, volunteers, or the self-employed who have an undergraduate qualification and/or relevant professional experience.

A Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice:

  • is ideal for those in paid or unpaid work, or self-employed
  • allows you to build a degree around your world. What skills/expertise do you need? What would help you to achieve your career or business aspirations? Do you need support in a particular area of your professional practice?
  • helps you to explore cross-disciplinary boundaries and enjoy greater scope, flexibility and application than traditional pre-prescribed postgraduate programmes
  • provides self-paced learning, and facilitators/academic/professional mentors will support you throughout the whole process

What will I learn?

Our Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice supports you to become an efficient self-directed learner. You’ll be capable of managing and critically evaluating your learning, and undertaking work-based projects that meet your needs and those of others.

When you graduate, you'll be able to: 

1.  Design and conduct an inquiry significant to the learner and their workplace, by:

  • identifying sources of knowledge and evidence and using them appropriately
  • identifying and applying information and ideas which result in the creation of knowledge relevant to self and workplace.

2.  Engage in reflection on practice which leads to insights likely to make a lasting impact upon personal and professional understanding.

3.  Undertake exploration proposing or leading to effective and appropriate action likely to impact upon the practice of self and/or others.

4.  Consider information and ideas independently and evaluate and articulate a position that can justify a basis for improvements in practice.

5.  Communicate effectively and persuasively in writing and orally in an appropriate format to appeal to a particular target audience.

6.  Work and learn autonomously and with others in a range of contexts, with a developing awareness in how this may develop the practices and/or beliefs of others. 


The work-based learning approach centres round the relationship between you, your employer/sponsor or your field of practice, and Capable NZ. The programme is divided into three main phases. 


Name of paper


Course 1

Review of Learning


Course 2

Learning Agreement


Course 3






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.