Why study Product Design with us?
Employers want our Product Design graduates for their problem-solving abilities, agile thinking and teamwork. In this programme you'll design, build and test prototypes to understand and refine concepts and cultivate your skills in:
- CAD software
- graphic design
- production methods
Benefits of studying with us
- Valuable industry experience that gives you key connections
- A range of international exchange opportunities with global partner institutions
- Human-centred approaches, manufacturing processes and aesthetic considerations to enhance your concepts and ideas
- A balanced curriculum of theoretical content and studio-based projects
- Highly personalised learning with small classes and plenty of one-on-one support
- World-class technology, CAD suites and technical support that will provide you with all the tools you need to get the most out of your learning
- NCEA Level 3
- 14* credits at Level 3 in each of three NZQA approved university entrance subjects, and
- 10 Literacy credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
- 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing, and
- 10 Numeracy 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).
*Due to Covid-19 disruption, if you studied and achieved NCEA Level 3 during 2020 you only need 12 credits per Level 3 subject (i.e. a total of 36 credits).
- 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 provide:
- New Zealand University Entrance OR
- Overall Academic IELTS 6.0 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years)
- Writing band 6.0
- Speaking band 6.0
- Reading band 5.5
- Listening band 5.5, OR
- Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).
If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.
You need to submit a portfolio when you apply for the Bachelor of Design.
We select people according to a range of criteria. If we have more eligible applicants than places available, we might put you on a waiting list and we may ask you to come in for an interview to discuss your portfolio.
If you don't yet meet the acceptance criteria, we will recommend a study programme to prepare you to apply the next year.
A school leaver or an adult applicant who does not meet all the entry criteria may be given provisional entry to year 1 at the discretion of the Head of School.
- 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 course, along with an academic leader from the department.
- Applicants will be selected on merit on the basis of their portfolio, 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 will be informed before the end of the year and be 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.
Contact the School of Design for a list of equipment, textbooks and resources you must purchase for this programme.
Further study options
Advance your design skills with our graduate or postgraduate qualifications in Design or Art, or expand your career prospects with a graduate teacher training programme.
You'll be working with wood, metal, plastics, textiles, painting plant and equipment. There are risks and potential hazards in the work spaces and studios. We will let you know about them before you start the programme and we will train you in first aid and in how to use the workshop and studio equipment safely on your own.
You will also have significant exposure to working with design software and be required to have computer health and safety training.
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.
Hours are allocated as follows, based on a 32-week academic year:
Directed (Class Contact Hours)
Approximate Hours Per Week
Self-Directed (Non-Class Contact
Approximate Hours Per Week
You will study
You will complete core courses common to all Design specialties (Fashion, Interiors, Communications), in addition to courses specific to Product Design and a range of electives.
Core courses (All specialties)
Design Culture and Context 1 (Year One)
Develop an understanding of design as a discipline, and as an enabler in society, and receive an introduction to design elements, principles and processes. Historical, socio-cultural and ethical frameworks for design are explored. Develop investigation, inquiry and critical thinking skills as well as basic research skills in written, verbal and visual communication.
Design Culture and Context 2 (Year Two)
Extend your understanding of design as a discipline and an enabler in society. Develop a broad understanding of New Zealand and international design constructs and practices, including development of cultural perspectives, development of valid approaches and responses to sustainable design practice. Further develop investigation, inquiry, critical thinking and research skills in written, verbal and visual communication.
Strategic Design (Year Three)
Develop an understanding of the professional and strategic requirements of the design industry. Extend your professional research techniques and critical reflection skills to define your personal design philosophy and potential career pathways upon graduation. Communicate these through a portfolio that utilise a range of visual, verbal and on-line formats and a written report.
Interdisciplinary Studio 1 (Year One, Two and Three)
Explore design perspectives and approaches which will enhance your discipline-specific learning through either an individual or team-based integrated project.
Studio Workshops (Year Two and Three)
All interdisciplinary courses are intended to broaden knowledge and provide opportunities for collaboration. Studio workshops are set at Level 6 in the first two years and at Level 7 in the final year. They are available to all three years of all four programme streams simultaneously, enabling you to work with, and learn from, other students in your own and allied specialties. Interdisciplinary studios are set at Levels 5, 6 and 7, again providing opportunities for you to work with students from different design disciplines on a shared brief, drawing on your own discipline-specific approaches and learning from other approaches at the same time.
Studio workshops (vary every year) and may include:
Photography, Production Ceramics, Furniture Design, Digital Film, Digital Animation, Sculptural Design, Web Design, Textiles, Accessories, Printmaking, Rapid Prototyping, Exhibition Design, Storyboarding and Illustration, Small Business, Digital Photography and 2D and 3D technologies.
Year One courses
Will introduce skills and develop confidence in the ability to observe, conceptualise and communicate ideas in a design context. Students will explore 2D and 3D drawing and model making techniques for concept visualisation, exploration, evaluation, validation and presentation.
Product Design History
Develop a fundamental understanding of design history specific to product design; focusing on the historical evolution of the discipline with particular emphasis on design developments and environments. Develop skills in research, analysis and critical thinking with respect to the history of product design.
Product Design Studio 1
Identify a range of human-centered factors and values relevant to successful product design; issues of form, formal experimentation and iteration will be emphasised as well as an explicit reflection of the design process..
Product Design Communication
Gain an understanding of product design digital drawing and modelling in an applied context.
Design Lab 1
An introduction to fundamental detailing and production skills and familiarisation with distinct properties and technologies commonly used with product environments.
Studio Workshops 1 - Presentation
An introduction to graphic design; develop skills in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign and apply these to present your design outcomes.
Year Two courses
Materials, Manufacturing and Production
Explore a range of materials and production processes required when prototyping and specifying product design solutions.
Applied Design Methods
Survey, select and apply suitable design methods as a catalyst for the development of innovative and sustainable product services an experiences.
Product Design Studio 2
Research and develop ideas in response to a brief and develop design concepts. The emphasis is on research , experimentation, problem solving and the appropriate selection of concept development and presentation techniques to achieve a quality outcome.
Design Lab 2
Analyse and interpret a brief; research and develop ideas to develop design concepts. The emphasis is on research, experimentation, problem solving and appropriate selection of concept development techniques to achieve a high quality outcome.
Extend the material understanding, skill and the technical knowledge required to visualise design concepts. The emphasis is on research, experimentation, and the appropriate selection of techniques through a series of exercises to develop rapid prototypes for design communication.
Year Three courses
Product Design Studio 3
Develop your own brief for a product design project which will include research, analysis, brief refinement, concept development, prototyping and presentation communication. Students will take significant responsibility for the whole project from inception to completion with supervisory support provided. A successful outcome from this studio may be developed more in Studio 4.
Design Lab 3
Develop a concept for a large scale commercial design project within the framework of sustainable design.
Develop a portfolio that describes and presents major design outcomes and provides evidence of individual design literacy and subject knowledge.
Product Design Studio 4
Develop your own brief and concepts for a product design project. This may further extend the work developed in Studio 3 or be a second portfolio of product solutions that is resolved, relevant, compelling and evocative. Students will take significant responsibility for the whole project from inception to completion with supervisory support provided.
Machiko is interested in Human Centred Design and likes looking at what we do everyday and how this affects our behaviour. Machiko values both applied methods and the practice of design to increase sustainability of products and services.
Gavin is a design historian and a cross-disciplinary educator with 20 years’ experience in teaching. He has a diverse background of research, practice and education across fine arts, design and architecture and is interested in the intersection of culture and technology. He considers that 'Design is making sense of things' and has has a passion for products that provoke this understanding.
Andrew loves exploring the process of designing and learning new ways to express ideas. Coming to design education with industry background, he remains active within industry and is involved in delivery of the Master of Design Enterprise program.
Nick has a history of shaping design education in New Zealand. A sociologist and architect by training, he is constantly striving to unpack and shape new theories into digestible bites, to allow business people to understand creative methods and helping creative people to become better with business tools. Nick is also involved in delivery of the Master of Design Enterprise programme.
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.
Links to useful websites
Connect with School of Design students, graduates and staff on our very active Facebook page.
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.