Otago Polytechnic

Bachelor of Design (Fashion)



Three years full-time; six years part-time

On campus

Apply by
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    19 February 2018
    2 July 2018 - 20 July 2018
    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 Twentysevennames.

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! 

Awards and collaborations

Otago Polytechnic's School of Design is frequently invited to collaborate on projects with industry. Students have the opportunity to gain practice in real industry settings and network with potential employers.

In 2016, Bachelor of Design (Product) student, Jeremy Metherell, designed a hammock in his final year. After 12 prototypes, Jeremy perfected the design – his hammock is now being manufactured and sold by Cactus Outdoor equipment company.

Otago Polytechnic students and graduates are often mentioned in the press for winning national and international awards and competitions.

Bachelor of Design (Product) graduate, Adam Gorrie, combined his love of mountain biking with product design to create a car-mounted bike-rack / maintenance stand.  He gained distinction for his degree, and won Gold in the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards.

Design Communications students Charlotte Boyce, Gabrielle Devereux and Craig Quested won Silver in the Student Graphics section of the Best Design Awards for their ‘International Food Conference Newspaper’.  George Chalmers, also a Design Communications student, won Silver for his “Sugar Coated” newspaper in the same category.  While lecturer, Matt Galloway, won Silver for his “Blue Oyster Poster Series” in the Design Craft Category of the awards.

2016 was also a successful year for our Design Fashion students.  Ivy Jackson-May was chosen for the inaugural paid internship at WORLD fashion brand.

Fashion graduate, Anna Ross has seen great success with her skincare and nail polish line, Kester Black.  She was named the 2016 Young Australian Businesswoman of the Year.

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)
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.
  • 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.    

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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