Master of Design Enterprise

Learn how to enhance user experiences through design. You will develop skills to use design as a strategic tool by undertaking applied research tailored to suit your needs. You will explore ways to create new products and systems that contribute to satisfying human interactions. Multi-disciplinary design interaction, criticism and debate will be encouraged throughout the programme.

About the programme

In your career, are you drawn to design, innovation and problem-solving? Would you like to develop the ability to provide design-led strategy expertise within an organisation or enterprise?

Otago Polytechnic's Master of Design Enterprise has "design thinking" and user experience design at its heart. You will become highly skilled in this ground-breaking methodology, enabling you to resolve issues and enhance people's experiences. This makes this industry-leading programme of scholarship and applied research relevant to a wide range of disciplines. By recognising that design is a strategic tool that is as much about ways of thinking as about ways of production, it prepares you to think laterally and critically as you innovate, create new products and better systems, and contribute to a more satisfying environment.

Inspired by leading designers, thinkers and innovators, you will explore design, creativity and strategy, enterprise, business and marketing, and production, operations and manufacturing. You will then undertake an industry placement, followed by a major research project tailored to suit your particular needs. This may be an industry-based, collaborative project, serving commercial or non-profit needs, or an independent entrepreneurial venture.

Throughout the programme, multi-disciplinary design interaction, criticism and debate are promoted.

And by studying at one of New Zealand's most innovative and progressive design schools, you can benefit from our modern resources, including Australasia's leading rapid prototyping facility, and strong links with the national and international design community.

Programme content

There are three phases to the MDE Structure.

PHASE 1: MDE401 Design (30 credits) 

Students will explore how design-led methodologies, such as customer experience design and service design, and other associated strategies and theoretical frameworks, are applied in the development of innovative products and services.

Workshops are led by key contributors in the areas of design and enterprise, including:

  • Andrew Wallace, Industrial Designer
  • Dr Kirsten Lovelock, Research Anthropologist
  • Associate Professor Paul Hansen, Multi-criteria decision making
  • Professor Brendon Gray, Entrepreneurship
  • Grant Baxter, IT developer
  • Dr Kay Kirkland, Service design/branding 
  • Paul Moodie, WKH business Consultant
  • Conrad Anderson, Upstart Business Consultant
  • David Grimmet, Intellectual Property
  • Peter Harris, Innovation Facilitator
  • Louis Brown, Social Entrepreneur
  • Dr Phil Osbourne, Enterprise/Business Model Canvases.

Approximate workload

Workshops taught in six 3-day blocks over six months (100 hours directed and 200 hours self-directed).


  • A portfolio of design thinking-led exercises
  • An integrated report comprising:
    • Design enterprise concepts
    • Industry 'passport' - relevant research.   
PHASE 2: MDE404 Design-led Enterprise (30 credits) 

Phase 2 involves an approved industry placement. The details of this engagement will be negotiated on the basis of mutual benefit to industry needs and your aspirations.

Approximate workload    

Industry placements are flexible depending on full-time or part-time engagement. The minimum full-time engagement should equate to no less than 12 weeks.


  • A concise report on the industry placement culminates in a brief for Phase 3.
PHASE 3: MDE501 Design Enterprise Project (120 Credits) 

Phase 3 requires the development of a Design Enterprise Research Project around a new product/service opportunity either in conjunction with an industry partner or around your own design inspired product or service enterprise.

Approximate workload 

This phase involves a significant engagement over 12 months of the course which can be negotiated according to circumstance.


  • An in-depth report which maps in detail the Design Enterprise Project and presents the resultant product or service prototypes.


As well as computer labs, hard media studios, laser cutting, and exhibition spaces, you will also have access to our extensive design library collection as well as all texts and journals held by the University of Otago.

We also have a product design and development centre, and academic research facility meeting international standards. It is able to facilitate the production of prototypes at all levels of the product design and development process and is set up with a wide range of the latest equipment including a CNC 3 axis router, CNC milling and turning, 3D rapid manufacturing,  water jet cutter, laser cutting and engraving, and full 3D scanning and reverse engineering. It is a business enabler, matching academic rigour with enterprise, business, production and management, and is a showcase for applied design, creativity and innovative endeavour.

We also enjoy strong and frequent links to the local, national and international design and engineering communities. You will benefit from ongoing networks and opportunities through these associations which will allow you to form contacts within the industry.

Programme specific risks

You will be required to work with a range of industrial machinery, equipment and chemicals.

Further study options

Expand your employment potential with doctoral programmes in Design.

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.