Otago Polytechnic

Master of Design Enterprise



18 months full-time

Blocks of learning on campus, work placement and industry project. Please note, students who live outside of Dunedin will need to arrange to travel to Dunedin to attend block learning.

February 2019
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    18 February 2019
In your career, are you drawn to design, innovation and problem-solving? Would you like to develop the ability to provide design-led strategy expertise within an organisation or enterprise?

Otago Polytechnic's Master of Design Enterprise has "design thinking" and user experience design at its heart. You will become highly skilled in this groundbreaking methodology, enabling you to resolve issues and enhance people's experiences. This makes this industry-leading programme of scholarship and applied research relevant to a wide range of disciplines. By recognising that design is a strategic tool that is as much about ways of thinking as about ways of production, it prepares you to think laterally and critically as you innovate, create new products and better systems, and contribute to a more satisfying environment.

Inspired by leading designers, thinkers and innovators, you will explore design, creativity and strategy, enterprise, business and marketing, and production, operations and manufacturing. You will then undertake an industry placement, followed by a major research project tailored to suit your particular needs. This may be an industry-based, collaborative project, serving commercial or nonprofit needs, or an independent entrepreneurial venture.

Throughout the programme, multi-disciplinary design interaction, criticism and debate are promoted.

And by studying at one of New Zealand's most innovative and progressive design schools, you can benefit from our modern resources, including Australasia's leading rapid prototyping facility, and strong links with the national and international design community.

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.  

Skills required
  • Creativity and vision.
  • A passion for design.
  • The ability to see an idea through from concept to reality.
  • Practical ability.
  • The ability to communicate your ideas to others.
  • An interest in people and the world around you.
Entry requirements
  • You must have an accredited undergraduate degree in a design or design-related discipline OR equivalent recognised qualification and/or experience
  • You must also have industry-related experience; working in business, production or design-related work.
  • Curriculum Vitae required
  • You must present a portfolio of work (words and images) that demonstrates visually your design ability and enterprise interest or aspirations (this must be no larger than 15MB if you are applying online). See more information below.
  • You must submit a letter of introduction.
  • You must submit a project proposal - please see more information below.
  • You must supply the name and contact details of two referees.
  • You may have to undertake an interview.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet the 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.


Portfolio note
  • Your portfolio may contain photographs, painting, graphic work, images of garments, 3-dimensional design, sketches, storyboards, video or website, or any other work which is visually informative about you and your abilities as a designer.
  • Submission must be in digital format (on a pen drive, CD or via email).
  • Please note there is a 15MB file size limit for the portfolio if you are applying online.
Project proposal information

Consisting of 1500 words, this project 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?
Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identify, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure

All applicants who meet the entry criteria are eligible for selection.

Additional costs

A list of equipment, textbooks and resources which must be purchased for this programme are available from the School of Design. In general, consumables items are provided.

Further study options

Expand your employment potential with doctoral programmes in Design.

Programme specific risks

You will be required to work with a range of industrial machinery, equipment and chemicals.


As well as computer labs, hard media studios, laser cutting, and exhibition spaces, you will also have access to our extensive design library collection as well as all texts and journals held by the University of Otago.

We also have a product design and development centre, and academic research facility meeting international standards. It is able to facilitate the production of prototypes at all levels of the product design and development process and is set up with a wide range of the latest equipment including a CNC 3 axis router, CNC milling and turning, 3D rapid manufacturing,  water jet cutter, laser cutting and engraving, and full 3D scanning and reverse engineering. It is a business enabler, matching academic rigour with enterprise, business, production and management, and is a showcase for applied design, creativity and innovative endeavour.

We also enjoy strong and frequent links to the local, national and international design and engineering communities. You will benefit from ongoing networks and opportunities through these associations which will allow you to form contacts within the industry.

Qualification structure

There are three phases to the MDE Structure.

PHASE 1: MDE401 Design (30 credits) 

Students will explore how design-led methodologies, such as customer experience design and service design, and other associated strategies and theoretical frameworks are applied in the development of innovative products and services.

Workshops are led by key contributors in the areas of design and enterprise, including:

  • Andrew Wallace, Industrial Designer
  • Dr Kirsten Lovelock, Research Anthropologist
  • Associate Professor Paul Hansen, Multi-criteria decision making
  • Professor Brendon Gray, Entrepreneurship
  • Grant Baxter, IT developer
  • Dr Kay Kirkland, Service design/branding 
  • Paul Moodie, WKH business Consultant
  • Conrad Anderson, Upstart Business Consultant
  • David Grimmet, Intellectual Property
  • Peter Harris, Innovation Facilitator
  • Louis Brown, Social Entrepreneur
  • Dr Phil Osbourne, Enterprise/Business Model Canvases.

Approximate workload

Taught workshops in six 3-day blocks over six months (100 hours directed and 200 hours self-directed).


  • A portfolio of design thinking-led exercises
  • An integrated report comprising:
    • Design enterprise concepts
    • Industry "passport" - relevant research.   

PHASE 2: MDE404 Design-led Enterprise (30 credits) 

Phase 2 involves an approved industry placement. The details of this engagement will be negotiated on the basis of mutual benefit to industry needs and your aspirations.

Approximate workload    

Industry placements are flexible depending on full-time or part-time engagement. The minimum full time engagement should equate to no less than 12 weeks.


  • A concise report on the industry placement which culminates in a brief for Phase 3.

PHASE 3: MDE501 Design Enterprise Project (120 Credits) 

Phase 3 requires the development of a Design Enterprise Research Project around a new product/service opportunity either in conjunction with an industry partner, or around your own design inspired product or service enterprise.

Approximate workload 

This phase involves a significant engagement over 12 months of the course which can be negotiated according to circumstance.


  • An in-depth report which maps in detail the Design Enterprise Project and presents the resultant product or service prototypes.
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. 


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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