Otago Polytechnic

Master of Design



One year full-time; three years part-time

Blended; self-managed study and meetings with your supervisor

  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    30 July 2018

This qualification of excellence allows you to develop a significant body of scholarly creative work which is presented in a public forum and supported by an exegesis or equivalent. Alternatively, you can complete this programme through a thesis which could form the basis of academic journal articles.

The work will respond to societal needs, address sustainability from multiple perspectives, and be positioned within a wider framework of academic and applied research.

Graduates of this qualification will be well-prepared for doctoral-level study, an academic career or a lead design or design management role. 

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.  

Why study postgraduate design?
  • Acquire a clear, critical sense of the roles and functions of design within a local, national and global context.
  • Engage in research for design, research about design and research through design, allowing you to address the complex and contested issue of sustainability from cultural, social, environmental and economic perspectives to meet both current and anticipated future needs, and
  • Gain transferable skills enabling you to work as a design professional, to think laterally, to take risks, to problem solve and to work effectively as a team member.
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.
  • And, you will have access to support and business start-up advice through the Dunedin Fashion Incubator (Dfi).
Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements are:

  • The Bachelor of Design (Honours) at Level 8 OR the Postgraduate Diploma in Design at Level 8 with an overall grade of B+ (75%) in Design Research Methods and Applied Design Project 2 OR an equivalent postgraduate qualification of 120 credits in a related area. 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.
  • Exceptional applicants not meeting the entry requirements but with appropriate documented professional experience may also be considered.
  • 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 1500 words) that outlines a project focus for the Master of Design.

This proposal should address the following questions :

  • What is your project? - this needs to be a clear description of a product, service or other design outcome that your project is based on
  • Why is your project relevant? - i.e. what change will it bring about, what problem will it solve, what issue will it address? 
  • Who are your customers/who is your audience?
  • What is your field of research and how is your project situated within this field? - please cite academic references here (this section should be around 300 words)
  • What research methods do you intend to use?
  • How will you achieve the proposed outcome? - i.e. what is your process?

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

We look forward to receiving your application-  once received, we will endeavor to process it 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 but will receive financial support for publication of your exegesis or thesis.

You will study

This one-year, full-time programme is comprised of one Level 9 course worth 120 credits.

Integrated Body of Creative Work (Option one) OR Thesis (Option two)

You will undertake a significant body of independent research as an integrated body of creative work supported by an exegesis or equivalent (Option one) OR an individual research thesis (Option two). The purpose of this research is to demonstrate systematic engagement with contemporary and critical thinking in your chosen field, to demonstrate mastery of theoretically-sophisticated knowledge and specialised skills and to confidently articulate the impact and contribution of your work in a wider context. 

Your workload

You will be expected to work independently but will meet regularly with your supervisor.

Further study options

Successful completion of this qualification will prepare you for further postgraduate study at doctoral level, an academic career or a lead design or design management role.

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 are not available for this programme. Advanced standing is also not available for this programme.


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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