Otago Polytechnic

Postgraduate Certificate in Design



One semester full-time; one year part-time

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

February, 2018
Apply by
now for 2018
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    19 February 2018
    16 April 2018 - 27 April 2018

This postgraduate design qualification introduces you to postgraduate study in a guided learning environment, and is perfect for people who are returning to study after a long break or who desire more personalised guidance and support.

During this programme you will extend and deepen your knowledge and understanding of design research methods and the professional design environment. You will also develop capabilities in design, creativity, sustainability and problem-solving through an applied design project. This project can be individual or team-based and can explore ideas and issues relevant to your design discipline. 

Graduates of this qualification will be well-prepared for further postgraduate study such as our Postgraduate Diploma in Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications, or for employment in a wide range of creative or design management roles. 

More information 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.

At the Dunedin campus we can cater for a wider range of projects including but not limited to the list above.

* At our Auckland campus we can support projects in two specific areas - fashion communication and accessories - due to industry connections. See more detailed information below.

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.
Accessories and Fashion Communication pathways


Become a design professional who creates accessories, including wearable and functional fashion-related products excluding clothes. Options may include designing bags, hats, shoes, sunglasses, perfume, gloves, handbags, wallets, belts or jewellery using interesting combinations of unique materials and technologies.

Learn from design practitioners, industry collaborations and competitions in a stimulating environment that balances practice and theory to help you further explore your personal, creative and professional ambitions. This rapid growth sector includes wearable technology and fashion lifestyle products. Students in this pathway will have the chance to work on accessory collaborations with major fashion labels if desired.

Please note: a certain level of ‘making’ skills will be required to succeed in this pathway of study.

Fashion Communication

Learn how to find or create a story for fashion using a mixture of graphic design, illustration, photography, journalism, PR and social media skills. This course is the first of its kind in Australia and New Zealand.

We welcome applications from individuals who may have previously studied a diverse range of subjects, and who are passionate about the international fashion environment. These individuals will want to discover how to communicate fashion in visual and written forms including styling and photography for print or digital scenarios.

Students in this pathway will have the chance to work on major fashion events including iD Dunedin Fashion Week and with partner fashion publications.

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.
  • International applicants must demonstrate that they have equivalent experience/qualifications as domestic applicants. Click here for your country’s equivalent academic entry requirements.
  • If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.5, with no band score less than 6.0, or equivalent. 

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 Postgraduate Certificate in Design.

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 semester, full-time programme is comprised of two 30 credit courses at Level 8. These are:  

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. 

Your workload 

You will be expected to spend around 16 hours per week in directed study and work-based learning, and a further 22 hours a week in self-managed study. 

Further study options 

Successful completion of this qualification will prepare you for further postgraduate study in our Postgraduate Diploma in Design or Master of Design Enterprise qualifications (or equivalent), or for employment in a wide range of creative 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 30 credits in this programme. 

Advanced Standing is not available for this programme.  

Please note: Applied Design Project 1 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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