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Applying to study at the School of Design

1. Prepare your portfolio

2. Write your cover letter and proposal

3. Complete your application

1. PREPARE YOUR PORTFOLIO

UNDERGRADUATE PORTFOLIO

Bachelor of Design

You need to submit a portfolio for the Bachelor of Design (Communication) (Fashion) or (Product) unless you meet the criteria for automatic entry or get portfolio 'pre-approval'. 

 

1. Automatic portfolio approval – no portfolio needed

  • If you have achieved University Entrance endorsed with excellence overall including merit or excellence in an approved art, design or technology subject at NCEA Level 3, you have automatic entry, and will not need to submit a portfolio.
  • This also applies to applicants who have achieved Cambridge International AS grade A or B in an approved art, design or technology subject.

Note: When you apply online and are asked to upload a portfolio, you can either upload a copy of your NCEA results, or upload a note that says “I qualify for automatic entry”. We’ll then verify that with NZQA.

2. Portfolio pre-approval – show ‘work in progress’

  • You can show a ‘work in progress’ portfolio to a staff member from the School of Design by making contact with the school, or at open days and careers events throughout the year.
  • If you have achieved University Entrance and your portfolio already meets the criteria, you’ll receive a portfolio pre-approval letter. You can then upload that letter with your online application and you won’t have to submit a final portfolio.
  • If you want to talk to us about portfolio pre-approval, please email our school administrator, Pam.Hodgkinson@op.ac.nz or phone 0800 762 786.

Need to submit a portfolio?

If neither of the options above apply to you, you'll need to submit a portfolio. Your portfolio is a selection of work that shows your creative potential and passion for your chosen design field.  

Doing NCEA?

If you’re still at school, the work in your portfolio can be anything you’ve completed over the past year and work you’re developing for NCEA Level 3 portfolios. We don't need your finished NCEA board, but you can include development work for these if you like. We want to see work you've done in class and work you’ve done for yourself. 

What to include in your portfolio for the:

Bachelor of Design (Communication)
  • At least 10-12 photocopies or images of your creative works (A4 or A3 size)
  • Can include drawing or sketches and whatever you feel is visually informative about you and your abilities as a designer - e.g. animations, videos, games, photography, media creations, illustrations, graphic design, painting, art design, websites development etc.
  • Process work for 2 or 3 pieces. This could be drawings, sources of inspiration or comments etc, that show you can develop and research an idea to produce a finished design

PORTFOLIO FORMAT

You can submit your portfolio in digital or physical format; but we prefer digital.

Digital portfolio

  • Digital portfolios can be uploaded in PDF format (2MB size limit) through the online application page or if too large please provide a link to an online platform or website or email it to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

Physical portfolio

  • A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Don't include original works, please send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. 
  • Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

  • Please enclose a self-addressed postage paid courier package if you would like your work returned after it has been reviewed.  
Bachelor of Design (Fashion)
  • At least 10 x A4 or A3 sheets showing: 
    • fashion ideas
    • sewing, patterns, textiles, garments
    • developmental/design process work, i.e. copies of workbook pages, journal or visual diary
    • fashion drawings, sketches, illustrations, photos
    • prototypes, mock-ups, 3D models
    • 2D and 3D ideas and possibilities
    • photos of real 3D objects (these can be ideas for fashion objects, both finished pieces and works in progress)
    • images of your ideas for anything relating to the body: clothes, accessories, textiles, events, photography, ideas for communicating fashion -  can be compiled into a Moodboard format
    • critiques of contemporary and/or historical fashion ideas
    • screen captures in the case of digital work
    • links to original work, ie. blogs, Instagram, YouTube, Sound Cloud, Pinterest, Vimeo, Facebook.

PORTFOLIO FORMAT

You can submit your portfolio in digital or physical format; but we prefer digital.

Digital portfolio

  • Digital portfolios can be uploaded in PDF format (2MB size limit) through the online application page or if too large please provide a link to an online platform or website or email it to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

Physical portfolio

  • A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Don't include original works, please send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. 
  • Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

  • Please enclose a self-addressed postage paid courier package if you would like your work returned after it has been reviewed.  
Bachelor of Design (Product)
  • At least 10 x A4 or A3 sheets showing:
    • photographs of samples
    • small original works and/or sketches, and whatever you feel is visually informative about you and your abilities as a designer
    • process work for 2 or 3 pieces. This could be drawings, sources of inspiration or comments etc, that show you can develop and research an idea to produce a finished design.

PORTFOLIO FORMAT

You can submit your portfolio in digital or physical format; but we prefer digital.

Digital portfolio

  • Digital portfolios can be uploaded in PDF format (2MB size limit) through the online application page or if too large please provide a link to an online platform or website or email it to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

Physical portfolio

  • A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Don't include original works, please send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. 
  • Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

  • Please enclose a self-addressed postage paid courier package if you would like your work returned after it has been reviewed.  
 

UNDERGRADUATE PORTFOLIO

Bachelor of Architectural Studies and Graduate Diploma in Design (Specialty)

You need to submit a portfolio for both of these programmes. Your portfolio is a selection of work that shows your creative potential and passion for your chosen design field.  

Doing NCEA?

If you’re still at school, the work in your portfolio can be anything you’ve completed over the past year and work you’re developing for NCEA Level 3 portfolios. We don't need your finished NCEA board, but you can include development work for these if you like. We want to see work you've done in class and work you’ve done for yourself.

 

What to include in your portfolio for the:

Bachelor of Architectural Studies
  • Photocopies or images of 6 to 12 pieces of your own creative works
  • A variety of artwork, including sketches of architecture, still life and other observational drawings
  • A variety of media such as painting, 2D and 3D designs, photography, sculpture and digital media. These may include hobbies and activities you have completed outside of school.

PORTFOLIO FORMAT

You can submit your portfolio in digital or physical format; but we prefer digital.

Digital portfolio

  • Digital portfolios can be uploaded in PDF format (2MB size limit) through the online application page or if too large please provide a link to an online platform or website or email it to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

Physical portfolio

  • A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Don't include original works, please send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. 
  • Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

  • Please enclose a self-addressed postage paid courier package if you would like your work returned after it has been reviewed.  
Graduate Diploma in Design (specialty)

Your portfolio should demonstrate a working knowledge of design/art/creative disciplines and support your application for your specialty area, with evidence of strong design process.

It may contain:

  • photographs
  • painting
  • graphic work
  • images of garments
  • 3-dimensional design
  • sketches
  • storyboards
  • video
  • website
  • any other work which is visually informative about you and your abilities as a designer.

PORTFOLIO FORMAT

You can submit your portfolio in digital or physical format; but we prefer digital.

Digital portfolio

  • Digital portfolios can be uploaded in PDF format (2MB size limit) through the online application page or if too large please provide a link to an online platform or website or email it to ebsDES@op.ac.nz

Physical portfolio

  • A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Don't include original works, please send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. 
  • Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to:

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

  • Please enclose a self-addressed postage paid courier package if you would like your work returned after it has been reviewed.  
 

POSTGRADUATE PORTFOLIO

What to include in your portfolio:

For all postgraduate programmes you need to provide a portfolio that consists of current and recent examples of your work that demonstrate your creative process and ability and depth of engagement in your proposed field of research. Please annotate each item with a brief summary/description of the context or provide a written overview of your portfolio content.

Digital format is preferred i.e. by using a portfolio hosting site, a USB stick, uploaded with your application (2MB size limit) or via email to ebsDES@op.ac.nz 

 

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2. WRITE YOUR COVER LETTER AND PROPOSAL

Cover letter (all programmes)

Tell us why you want to do this programme, what interests you about it and what you have done to give yourself the best chance being accepted.

We want to know your career goals and anything else you think is relevant to your application.

Include your curriculum vitae

Master of Design and Master of Design Enterprise applications should also include the names and contact details for two referees.

 

Research proposal (postgraduate programmes only)

Bachelor of Design (Honours) / PG Certificate or Diploma in Design

This proposal should be 1000 words maximum and outline your project focus and address the following;

> Outline any work you have already completed in the field of your project and how this will inform the next stage of your research/project

> Define what you want to achieve/describe your aims for your project

> As a Design project outline the methods you plan to use to achieve your aims

  • You should have already read a few articles or books on the topic; summarise the important ideas that you will use to inform your research/project and identify any areas that you need to include (remember to reference the sources of the information)
  • Identify the context that you are working towards, e.g. a competition entry, a market-ready product, a communication or a new way to do things.
Master of Design / Master of Design Enterprise

This proposal should be 1500 words maximum and 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, and what issue will it address?
  • Who are your customers/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?

 

 

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3. COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Apply online 

Fill in the application form and upload your cover letter, proposal (for postgraduate applicants only) and a PDF of your portfolio. 

Remember…

  • if you qualify for automatic entry, either upload a copy of your NCEA results or upload a note that says “I qualify for automatic entry”
  • if you qualify for portfolio ‘pre-approval’, upload the portfolio pre-approval letter that you’ve received from us.

Note: There is a 2MB file limit when you upload your portfolio. If the file is too big to upload, you can send it to us on a USB, using the address below or send us a link to your website or online platform or email it to us at ebsDES@op.ac.nz.

Attn: Student Administrator for Design
Customer Services
Otago Polytechnic
F Block, Forth Street
Dunedin 9016

We prefer digital portfolios but you can send a physical portfolio to us if you need to. A physical portfolio should be submitted in an A4 clear file folder. Please don't include original works, send photographs or colour photocopies instead - and make sure it's all clearly labelled with your name. Please courier or hand-deliver your portfolio to the address above. 

Remember to enclose a self-addressed, postage-paid courier package so that we can return your portfolio to you.

 

Got any questions?

Email ebsDES@op.ac.nz if you have any questions about your application or portfolio.