Otago Polytechnic

Bachelor of Design (Honours)



One year full-time; two years part-time

Blended; directed study, work-based learning, and self-managed study

February 2019
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    18 February 2019
    14 May 2019 - 1 June 2019

If you have already achieved excellence in your undergraduate degree, this intensive postgraduate qualification is your chance to further your understanding of design research methods and professional design practice through advanced research and engagement with contemporary thinking.

Graduates of this programme are eligible to apply for our Master of Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications, or may choose to gain employment in a design creative lead role.

About this programme

This programme is taught in a multi-disciplinary environment which means that your design projects may be more discipline focused e.g. fashion, communication, visual arts, product, spatial design, or explore projects than span and connect disciplines such as interaction design, fashion communication, accessories, food design, multimedia projects, event and experience design to name a few.

A preliminary project proposal helps us to understand what motivates and inspires you to study at postgraduate level. It also allows us to determine if your area fits within our areas of expertise.

Why should you study with us?
  • Employers love our design graduates as they are 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.
Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements are:

  • The Bachelor of Design (discipline endorsed) Level 7 OR an equivalent qualification at bachelor level or above, with an overall grade of B+ or higher in your final year, Level 7 courses. Please send us certified copies of your undergraduate degree transcript and other relevant qualifications. 
  • A physical or digital portfolio which demonstrates a depth of engagement with creative work relevant to your field. Please see below for more information.
  • Commencement of your Honours study must occur within five years of the successful completion of your undergraduate degree. Exceptions require the approval of the Postgraduate Coordinator based on advice from the relevant academic leader and the supervisor.
  • International applicants must demonstrate that they have equivalent experience/qualifications as domestic applicants. Click here for your country’s equivalent academic 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 6.5, with no band score lower than 6.0 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. 

Other requirements 

  • We may decide that you need to undertake an interview and/or entry task. We'll contact you if this is necessary. 
Portfolio information

You need to provide a portfolio to support your application consisting of:

  • current and recent examples of work that demonstrate your creative ability and depth of engagement in your proposed field of research  
  • a letter of introduction which explains why you have chosen to apply for this programme at Otago Polytechnic
  • names and contact details of two referees, and
  • an initial proposal (maximum 1000 words) that outlines a project focus for the Bachelor of Design (Honours).

This proposal should address the following questions :

  • What is your research about?
  • Why is your project relevant? What is your motivation?
  • Who are your customers/who is your audience?
  • How will you achieve the proposed outcome? What is your process?
  • What do you intend to make? What is the product/service/outcome?

Please forward your digital portfolio to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

We look forward to receiving your portfolio as soon as possible. Please note that late applications will only be considered if spaces are available. Once received, we will endeavour to process your application within 15 working days. 

Selection procedure

An interview panel consisting of the Postgraduate Coordinator and relevant postgraduate supervisors will interview and select applicants. Where there are more applicants than places, candidates will be prioritised on the basis of:

  • strength of academic record
  • breadth and depth of their portfolio
  • an entry task that validates existing skills and knowledge.

Applicants who do not meet the entry or selection criteria will be directed to a path of study to help prepare them for application in the future.

Additional costs

You will be expected to meet the cost of project materials.

You will study

This one-year, full-time programme is comprised of 120 credits at Level 8, divided into two semesters of 60 credits each.

First semester

Professional Design Practice (30 credits)

Develop an understanding of professional design practices, conventions, and professional and legislative frameworks applicable to specific design disciplines and examine what it means to be a sustainable design practitioner from multiple perspectives - cultural, social, environmental and economic.

Applied Design Project 1 (30 credits)

This project, either individual or team-based, employs relevant skills and techniques and explores ideas and issues applicable to your design discipline. You will research and analyse information from a range of sources, and incorporate critique and iteration to arrive at a resolved final design outcome. Sustainability will be addressed throughout the applied research process from cultural, social, environmental and/or economic perspectives.

Second semester

Design Research Methods (15 credits)

Explore a range of design research methods and methodologies and develop an understanding of the context in which research takes place in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. You will use this background exploration to develop a literature/context/artefact review and proposal for an applied design project/major research project which incorporates appropriate methodologies.

Major Research Project 2 (45 credits)

This major research project allows you to develop a design brief or expand an existing project exploring skills, techniques, ideas and issues relevant to your design discipline. Through advanced research and systematic engagement with contemporary practice and critical thinking in your chosen field, you will develop a design-led project that addresses sustainability from multiple perspectives and is presented in a public forum. The work is supported by a dissertation of 5,000-8,000 words or equivalent e.g. supporting writing for a documentary. Projects can be self- or client-driven, individual or team-based, studio- or workplace-based.

Please note: Applied Design Project 1 and Major Research Project may be treated as one larger project with two assessment points.

Your workload

You will be expected to spend around 12 hours per week in directed study and work-based learning, and a further 26 hours a week in self-managed study.

Further study options

Successful completion of this qualification will prepare you for further postgraduate study in our Master of Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications (or equivalent), or for a career in design or design management roles.

Links to useful websites

Visit our very active School of Design Facebook page and get involved in our community. 

Student loans and allowances

Full-time domestic students of this programme are eligible for student loans and allowances (dependent on age and financial circumstances.) Please contact Studylink for additional information. Phone 0800 88 99 00 or visit: www.studylink.govt.nz

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of Prior Learning including Cross Credit or Credit Transfer is offered for up to 60 credits in this programme. This process will normally apply to a student who has completed formal study at an equivalent level at Otago Polytechnic or another institution.

Advanced Standing is available for up to 60 credits of this programme through the process of Assessment of Prior Learning. Students may use a combination of formal and informal learning experiences to support their application.

Please note: the Major Research Project is not eligible for credit recognition. 


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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