Otago Polytechnic

Bachelor of Design (Fashion)



Three years full-time; six years part-time

On campus

February 2019
by 30 November
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    18 February 2019
    14 May 2019 - 1 June 2019
    16 April 2018 - 27 April 2018
    24 September 2018 - 5 October 2018
Immerse yourself in the world of fashion at Otago Polytechnic's Fashion Design School

Become a fashion designer or skilled, industry-ready fashion professional with this internationally-recognised qualification.

Employers love our fashion design graduates because they’re innovative, hard-working, solution-focused and well-prepared for the realities of the fashion world. Many of our graduates have gone on to work for internationally-acclaimed designers such as NOM*D, or to create successful labels of their own such as Maaike and twenty-seven names.

This leading fashion degree is recognised for its international opportunities, industry connections and the chance to truly develop your individual style and identity as a designer.

Programme content is hands-on and is designed to reflect current industry practice, extend your market knowledge and explore enterprise opportunities, whilst also developing your advanced design and technical skills.

Dunedin is a city that encourages innovation and creativity, and nurtures and supports business start-ups. Playing host to international fashion experiences such as iD Dunedin Fashion Week, the city is known for its unique and distinctive style – come and be part of it! 

Fee information

The tuition fees shown in the right-hand column are part of the Government’s Key Information for Students (KIS). This data is pulled from a database that the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) control. It is based on an average fee from the previous year.

This means there is always a difference between the TEC/KIS fee shown and Otago Polytechnic’s current indicative fee (other reasons also affect the KIS data such as fee reductions for students granted Recognition of Prior Learning). Due to this, the indicative fee below is the best guide for prospective students.

Information about compulsory student services levy >

Please note: The KIS data only applies to domestic students. Up-to-date international student fees can be found by clicking the International tab in the top right corner of this page.  

Benefits of our fashion degree
  • A boutique learning environment – small classes mean your lecturers know you by name and can support you to develop your own ‘design identity’
  • Studio-based learning with access to specialised equipment and spaces
  • Exchange and study abroad opportunities in Europe and Asia
  • Strong international fashion connections
  • Individual, team and interdisciplinary learning opportunities
  • Exhibitions and international competitions to showcase your creativity and talent
  • Client projects, industry placements and internships which help you to become a work-ready graduate
  • Access to support and business start-up advice through the Dunedin Fashion Incubator (Dfi)
Graduate stories

Our graduates work in a diverse range of roles in fashion and fashion-related fields throughout the New Zealand and global fashion industry. These roles include design assistant, technical and production, product and textile development, marketing and promotion, buying, merchandising and sales.  

Success stories:   

  • Ivy Jackson-Mee was awarded the inaugural Newmarket Business Association Scholarship (2016), a paid internship at the fashion label WORLD.
  • Katarina Stapper then became our second graduate to be offered this internship in 2017. Both these graduates were employed full-time at the end of the paid internship period.
  • Ariane Bray was awarded runner-up at the prestigious China Cup Fashion Competition (2017) in Shanghai, China. Ariane was part of the first cohort to graduate with Honours in 2016.
  • Anna Ross, founder of Kester Black, an ethical beauty line, became the Telstra Australia Young Businesswoman of the Year 2016 and then in 2017, the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Australian delegate.
  • Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting (twenty-seven names), Abby van Schreven (Maaike), Sara Munro (Company of Strangers) and Jessie Wong (Yu Mei) continue to lead the way as fashion’s next generation of successful New Zealand designers. These graduates regularly show at fashion weeks around the world. 

Be inspired! Read more about our graduates here.

Events and collaborations

UK Graduate Fashion Week
In 2018, for the first time we were invited to select and show a 2017 graduates’ collection in the International Catwalk Competition (see www.graduatefashionweek.com)

iD Dunedin Fashion Week
This continues to be a highlight on the national fashion calendar. All of our fashion students work behind the scenes, embracing the opportunity to network with some of the world’s most exciting emerging design talent and international guest designers who judge the prestigious International Emerging Designer Awards (see https://www.idfashion.co.nz/id-emerging-designer-show/) 

Otago Polytechnic Collections Graduate Fashion Show 

New Zealand Fashion Week
Otago Polytechnic fashion graduates showcased collections at the Graduate show in 2016 and 2017. 

International opportunities

Otago Polytechnic educates for the global workplace and we have incoming and outgoing students on exchanges. We encourage our students to study abroad because the skills, attributes and perspectives that come from an international experience will make them attractive to employers and serve them well in their career. Students in this programme have taken part in: 

  • a six-week study tour in China
  • the annual fashion and photography project with Shanghai Institute of Science and Technology to celebrate our Sister City status
  • semester exchange study at IED, Milan 
  • a seven-week study programme in Finland
  • a four-week study programme at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, and Donghua University, China 
  • a four-week study programme at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 
Attitudes required
  • Creativity
  • Interest in fashion
  • Risk taker 
  • Hard worker 
  • Sewing skills not essential.
Entry requirements
  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3 or above, made up of:
    • 14 credits each, in three approved subjects, and
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing, and
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects OR
    • package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).
  • If you do not hold the above qualifications, you must demonstrate equivalent qualifications/experience. Mature applicants with work and life experience are encouraged to apply.
  • You must submit a portfolio and may have to undertake an interview.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet degree-level entry requirements.


All students (international and domestic) for whom English is not a first language:

  • must demonstrate English Language skills with an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0, with no band score lower than 6.0 in writing and speaking, and no less than 5.5 in reading and listening, OR
  • must provide acceptable alternative evidence of English language proficiency depending on the visa decline rate of the country you are from. See here for acceptable evidence and visa decline rates by country.

Please note: All scores must be achieved in a single test completed in the preceding two years. You cannot combine scores from multiple tests. If you have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance you are not required to provide evidence of English Language skills.


Additional documentation: You must also supply certified copies of proof of identity, proof of residency (where appropriate), your academic records and a curriculum vitae. 

Portfolio requirements 

Your portfolio should be a collection of your fashion ideas showing your interest in fashion. A visual diary is a direct line to your creative thinking. Within this, please show:  

  • fashion ideas
  • 2D and 3D ideas and possibilities
  • photos of real 3D objects (these can be ideas for fashion objects, both finished pieces and works in progress)
  • images of your ideas for anything relating to the body - clothes, accessories, textiles, events, photography, ideas for communicating fashion
  • critiques of contemporary and/or historical fashion ideas

Portfolio format

Your portfolio should be in a format appropriate to the to the work you are showing i.e. digital (CD or USB) or physical. As a guide, we expect at least 10 x A4 or A3 sheets. A clear binder is a good way to protect your work if your portfolio is not in a digital format. Please provide photographs of garments/samples in your portfolio rather than original pieces.

PLUS we want to see a cover letter telling us why you want to study for a Bachelor of Design (Fashion). This letter should communicate your interest in this discipline and discuss what steps you have already taken to increase your chances of being accepted onto the programme. Please include a Curriculum Vitae and outline your career goals in this letter.

Delivery of your portfolio

1. Upload it online via the online application form (please note that there is a 15MB file size limit), OR 

2. Courier or hand deliver to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

If you are couriering or hand delivering, please enclose a self-addressed, postage-paid courier package in order for your work to be returned after consideration.

We look forward to receiving your application as soon as possible. 

You will study

fashion structure poster final A0

Your workload

There is an emphasis throughout the three-year programme on the development of independent learning skills. This is reflected in the decrease of directed hours over the three years with an expectation that by the end of year three, you will be an independent learner. You will work really hard, but you can also count on having heaps of fun along the way! 

Hours are allocated as follows, based on a 32 week academic year: 


Directed hours (Class contact)

Approximate hours per week

Self-directed hours (Non-class contact)

Approximate hours per week
















Selection process

Eligible applicants will be selected using a range of identified criteria, most importantly on the potential shown in your portfolio for you to become a future fashion professional.  You will be advised of your acceptance within two weeks of Otago Polytechnic receiving your portfolio.

Should the number of applicants who meet the selection process requirements exceed the available places, the professional judgement of staff will be used to determine those given immediate entry and those placed on a waiting list.

In some cases, selected applicants may be asked to attend an interview, where they will be invited to discuss their portfolio.

Applicants who do not meet the acceptance criteria will be directed to a path of study to prepare them for application the following year.

Provisional entry

A school leaver or an adult applicant who does not meet all of the entry criteria may be given provisional entry to year 1 at the discretion of the Head of Department. Those who successfully complete and pass year 1 will be deemed to have met entry requirements and provisional status will be removed. The interview panel will consist of lecturers who teach on the programme, along with an academic leader from the department. Applicants will be selected on merit using professional judgement on the basis of their portfolio of work, evidence of creativity and ability to take a concept through to a model stage and demonstration of the ability to undertake design study at degree level. Successful applicants are all informed before the end of the year and are sent detailed information on enrolment procedures, loans, starting dates for the following year and any information that might be required to facilitate a smooth introduction to the programme.

Additional costs 

A list of equipment, textbooks and resources which must be purchased for this programme are available from the School of Design. You will also be required to purchase fabrics and trims for design projects.

Student loans and allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. 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. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this 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.

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