Otago Polytechnic

Bachelor of Leadership for Change


Dunedin and online

Three years full-time

Blended with initial face-to-face workshops in Dunedin, then customised facilitation and group online webinars 

March, 2018 (first week: Mon 26 Feb - Fri 2 Mar)
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Capable
    26 February 2018

Are you a change maker? Are you driven by a desire to create positive change for an industry, community or the planet?

Then our innovative degree is ideal for you!

A New Zealand-first, this qualification caters for all people, no matter what field you want to make a difference in.

Launching in early March, 2018 for the first time, the qualification takes three years to complete but you will be given flexibility to progress at your own pace.

As part of the application process, you will need to identify a career goal that you wish to achieve as an outcome of the degree. This can either be a career that exists already or one that you want to develop throughout the degree.

This programme is significantly self-directed and project-based, focusing on transferable skills. Learners will be supported and nurtured throughout this process by a highly experienced team of skilful and innovative facilitators who will have regular catch ups with you and evaluations via video calls.

From the first year, you will be required to work alongside, and within, businesses or organisations in the field in which you wish to effect change.

Learners can be based anywhere in New Zealand but may be required to travel to Dunedin.  

Study for free 

From 1 January, 2018, eligible learners can study for free* in their first year at Otago Polytechnic (*conditions apply).  

You're eligible if you’re new to tertiary study or have not previously been enrolled in more than 60 credits at Level 3 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (or in equivalent tertiary study overseas). 

For more information, to find out if you're eligible and for FAQs, visit www.feesfree.govt.nz

Entry requirements 

Academic entry requirements

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading, and 
    • 5 credits in writing 
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards - specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or 
    • unti standards - package of three numeracy unti standards (26623, 26626, 26627 - all three required)
  • OR equivalent.  
  • If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0, with no less than 6.0 in writing and speaking, and no less than 5.5 in reading and listening.

Other requirements 

All learners will also need to undertake an interview to demonstrate:

  • clarity in why, how and where you intend on making a difference 
  • evidence of capability to manage your own learning/learn independently/seek learning opportunities that foster interests and aspirations
  • willingness to, or experience of making a difference (e.g. have previous experience of service to others such as volunteering)
  • ability to work collaboratively.  
Who is this programme for? 

This programme is for big thinkers and doers who want to create meaningful and positive change.  

For example, you might have a real passion to address water issues in somewhere like Central Otago (New Zealand). You would therefore spend the three years becoming the best Drylands Water Advocate possible. If your interest lies in a completely different area however, let's say you have an idea for a startup business that will revolutionise the fishing industry, you would probably graduate having already founded your startup, well on your way to making that change happen! 

This degree is for people who want to "make a difference" whether that be in business, not-for-profit, or community etc.

What will I gain?

The purpose of this programme is to meet the needs of learners, communities, enterprises and other groups in professions in an unknown future. This is a future where professions are not yet established but are emerging as hybrids of current professions or as new professions emerging from innovation. 

This degree has been designed to meet the needs of learners who want to develop a practice that is not well captured by current professions. 

It will provide future employees with the skills and knowledge to work in as yet undefined professions. In addition, learners will gain the transferable skills to adapt and creat an impact in a constantly-changing context. 

Career outcomes might include Community Facilitator, Project Manager, Entrepreneur, Community Support Worker, Alternative Retailer, Missionary, Service Designer, Environmental Advocate, NGO organiser, Council Activities Coordinator, Green Business Development Advisor, Events Organiser, Analyst (within not-for-profit sector) or Mentor. 

Alternatively, you can design your own career and come up with your own job title (i.e. Drylands Water Advocate)!  

How is the degree taught?

This programme is taught by a series of curated experiences and projects, with negotiated learning and regular catch ups to develop and achieve your professional framework of practice (i.e. what it means to be a Dryland Water Advocate or Technology Founder or Community Organiser, for example). 

It is a capability degree that focuses on transferable skills. 

The outcome of your degree and the way it is achieved is largely determined by you, through a facilitated process of nurturing, curated experiences, reflection and the development of an emergent professional framework of practice.

So, using our Central Otago water issues example again, by the end of the degree you would have a business card that said Drylands Water Advocate, and the experience, skills and knowledge to justify it. 

If, on the other hand, you want to make a difference in the community sector but aren't sure of the issue or levers you can pull, the curated experiences will expose you to a range of work environments to help you identify your passion and the tools needed - for example, community housing with social networking as an important lever. You'd first work with experts to describe a professional framework for your area of focus and then undertake projects, negotiated learning and professional experience to develop those capabilities. You could then graduate as, for example, a Network Facilitator in Community Resilience.     

How is the programme assessed?

At the end of the degree, you will present to a panel and articulate your professional framework of practice. This forms the basis for much of the assessment throughout the degree - the development of your 'exit strategy'. The exit strategy approach also enables an ongoing focus on your network, portfolio and employment. This exit strategy is the focus of regular reflection and planning sessions throughout the degree. Particular competencies and capabilities may be evidenced through specific assessments, but as a guiding rule, these are practice-based.  

Our facilitators 

Your learning journey will be guided by facilitators from Otago Polytechnic's Capable NZ. Although the Bachelor of Leadership for Change* is a new degree, it is based on Capable NZ's highly successful Independent Learning Pathway. To date at the end of 2017, more than 1,200 people have learned and graduated with degrees and postgraduate qualifications using this framework. 

Our facilitators are experts in helping you identify and reach your own goals and the facilitators selected to work with learners on this degree are also passionate change-makers.  

Placement costs 

This qualification is strongly project-based. You will undertake projects within your first, second and third year. These may well be within the local area or within another part of New Zealand. You will be responsible for your own travel, accommodation and living costs during these projects which may span a number of weeks. A big part of making a difference is the ability to seek out and secure funding so we'll make sure this relationship building is covered during your programme.

Student loans and allowances 

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students who have lived in New Zealnd for three years. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

For more information 

Please email samuel.mann@op.ac.nz or phone 03 479 6021


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.

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