Master of Design

This is an advanced programme with an emphasis on design research. You can choose to conclude the degree by either completing a thesis or developing an integrated body of creative work.

About the programme

This qualification of excellence allows you to develop a significant body of scholarly creative work which is presented in a public forum and supported by an exegesis or equivalent. 

Alternatively, you can complete this programme through a thesis which could form the basis of academic journal articles.

The work will respond to societal needs, address sustainability from multiple perspectives, and be positioned within a wider framework of academic and applied research.

Graduates of this qualification will be well-prepared for doctoral-level study, an academic career or a lead design or design management role.

Studying part-time 

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

Employers love our design graduates as they're 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.
  • And, you will have access to support and business start-up advice through the Dunedin Fashion Incubator (Dfi).


This one-year, full-time programme is comprised of one Level 9 course worth 120 credits.

Integrated Body of Creative Work (Option one) OR Thesis (Option two)

You will undertake a significant body of independent research as an integrated body of creative work supported by an exegesis or equivalent (Option one) OR an individual research thesis (Option two). The purpose of this research is to demonstrate systematic engagement with contemporary and critical thinking in your chosen field, to demonstrate mastery of theoretically-sophisticated knowledge and specialised skills and to confidently articulate the impact and contribution of your work in a wider context. 

At the end of this programme, you will have: 

  • acquired a clear, critical sense of the roles and functions of design within a local, national and global context.
  • the skill to engage in research for design, research about design and research through design, allowing you to address the complex and contested issue of sustainability from cultural, social, environmental and economic perspectives to meet both current and anticipated future needs, and
  • gained transferable skills enabling you to work as a design professional, to think laterally, to take risks, to problem solve and to work effectively as a team member.

Further study options

Successful completion of this qualification will prepare you for further postgraduate study at doctoral level, an academic career or a lead design or design management role.

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.