Otago Polytechnic

Certificate in Creative Studies


Dunedin (Design School, H block - see map)

One year full-time; two years part-time

On campus

Do you want to pursue a career where you can express your creativity but are struggling to decide which industry to enter? Perhaps you want to develop a portfolio for entry into one of our highly-regarded degree or diploma Art and Design programmes.

Either way, this is the ideal next step for you. No matter what direction your creative career takes, you will benefit from having a solid understanding of a range of disciplines. Artists and designers work in various dynamic fields and career opportunities are ever-changing and diverse. Prepare for higher-level qualifications or be well-equipped to take on a junior role in a creative workplace. With hard work and further study, you could find employment as a product designer, illustrator, interior designer, graphic designer, animator or fashion journalist, or practice and exhibit as an artist.   

Gain a foundation in drawing and mixed media, creative processes and digital design, and choose from a range of Art and Design-based studio courses. Benefit from the opportunity to work within our extensive design facilities and flourish under the guidance of highly skilled and enthusiastic tutors.

Please note: From February 2018, the Certificate in Creative Studies will be replaced by the New Zealand Certificate in Arts and Design (Level 4)* AND the New Zealand Certificate in Digital Media and Design (Level 4)*. This is due to a national review of qualifications that is being carried out by NZQA across all New Zealand tertiary institutions.

Skills required
  • A passion for design and art.
  • The ability to communicate your ideas to others.
  • An interest in people and the world around you.
  • An enjoyment of working with others.
Entry requirements

There are no academic entry requirements. However, we do prefer applicants to have:

  • NCEA Level 1 or equivalent
  • You must submit a portfolio of work, a letter of introduction and motivation, and a curriculum vitae to be considered as part of a selection process. The portfolio must be no larger than 15MB if you are applying online.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they have an acceptable level of secondary school achievement. 
  • 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 supply certified copies of proof of identity and proof of residency (where appropriate).

Selection procedure

You must submit a portfolio of work, a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae and NCEA results or equivalent (if you are a recent school leaver) to be considered for selection.

Your portfolio should:

  • Be as comprehensive a view as possible of your current art and design achievements, potential and commitment.
  • Contain photographs, small original works, sketches and whatever you feel is visually informative about you and your abilities. A clearfile portfolio should be no bigger than A3. We will also accept work in digital format on CD or via email. There is a file size limit of 15MB if you are applying online.

Within the portfolio we expect to see:

  • A selection of drawings which demonstrate your research and development of an idea through to a finished design.
  • The final design may be a painting, graphic work, a garment, a photograph, creative textile work, a 3-dimensional object, a video, a website or digital design work.

As a general rule, you should limit your portfolio to no more than ten chosen works showing a variation of interest.

Additional costs

You will receive a list of basic requirements to be purchased during the first week (some class materials are supplied).

Bridging options

You may apply for this programme after completing our Certificate in Foundation Studies.

Further study options

Earning this qualification will allow you to apply for the following Art and Design programmes at Otago Polytechnic:

Programme specific risks

You will be required to work with a range of industrial machinery/equipment and chemicals. All potential risks are identified and managed through orientation and Health and Safety training. Health and Safety information is detailed in the Student Programme Handbook and is reinforced during normal workshop and studio procedures. All required safety rules and procedures are clearly identified in classrooms, studios and workshops.

You will study

Studio courses may vary from year to year. 


Compulsory Courses (Full-time students will study all)


Art and Design Foundation

Develop your measurement and writing skills so that they can be used in an art and design context. Learn how to communicate ideas with confidence and work in a group. These courses are taken from the Certificate in Foundation Studies.  


Drawing and Mixed Media

You will be introduced to a range of materials and processes used in drawing and mixed media and learn to use drawing as an art and design problem-solving tool. Work with two different drawing approaches - investigative projects and observational drawing. Investigative projects use the processes of drawing to solve aesthetic problems and observational drawing develops a drawing habit using new skills. These skills will be applied in contemporary contexts.  



Explore a range of software and digital applications used to create, manipulate and store digital images and text. Learn to transfer knowledge between software applications and understand multiple approaches to digital art and design. You are encouraged to approach the computer as one tool among many and learn to work between manual and digital media.   


Creative Processes

Explore how ideas are generated and extended from an initial concept to a range of possible solutions from which a single resolved outcome can be reached.


Studio Option 1

See list of studio courses below.


Studio Option 2

See list of studio courses below.


Studio Option 3

See list of studio courses below.


Studio Option 4

See list of studio courses below.



Studio Courses
(Full-time students select 60 credits from this list - courses may vary from those listed below)



Explore a variety of design principles, skills and techniques associated with the design, patternmaking and construction of garments through a fashion-based project.


Introduction to Jewellery

Explore the use of different materials and techniques used in making jewellery and apply these skills in a jewellery-based project.


Product Design

An introduction to the design principles, techniques, processes and materials involved in designing products for everyday use.



An introduction to the scope of interior design practice. Learn a range of basic design skills that enable elementary design of interior space and develop awareness of factors influencing design decisions.



Explore a variety of techniques for making and firing clay and develop the skills and ability to produce ceramic works through projects.



Experiment with different techniques for printing onto paper including woodblocks, drypoint on mylar, solar plate and printing on different papers. 



Explore a variety of design principles, media and techniques associated with textiles and develop the skills and ability to translate these to a cloth outcome through a textiles-based project.


Web Design

Explore a range of web-based applications, principles and techniques associated with website design including short animations for the internet.


Video and Sound

An introduction to the techniques and skills involved with field-making including use of a digital video camera, editing and sound as well as concept development leading to the realisation of completed short films. 



Develops skills and techniques required to produce animations using animation-based software.


Basic Photography

Learn how to operate a manual camera and how to correctly expose film for varied lighting conditions. Learn how to print black and white photographs and gain a basic knowledge of composition and design in black and white photography.  


Life Drawing

Learn to draw from life - develop the skills, understanding and appreciation of drawing practices as they relate to life drawing.



Develop your understanding and use of paint, colour and techniques in painting.



Explore a variety of sculpture principles, skills and techniques associated with the design and construction of cast aluminium objects through a sculpture-based project.


Stained Glass

Gain an understanding of materials, techniques and processes involved in the construction and installation of leadlight, stained and painted glass.



Experience the illustrative process, starting from an initial brief. Your working process will involve investigations, trials and finished roughs which will result in a complete set of related images to match a text.


Creative Advertising

Explore a variety of creative tools to communicate a marketing message.



Your workload

A full-time course of study (34 weeks) involves 600 contact hours and you will be expected to complete about the same number of hours in self-directed study. This averages out at approximately 18 hours a week in class and the equivalent number of hours out of class time.

Student loans/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.

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