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Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice with a context in Sustainable Practice


Online with learning intensives held in Dunedin

One year full-time; two years part-time

Regular classes are held online and we also run learning intensives (workshops) in Dunedin

Monthly intakes from February to November
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • CapableNZ
    1 January 2021

Gain the knowledge to promote and implement sustainable leadership in your community and workplace. Examine the social, economic, political and environmental implications of sustainability with this project-based programme.    

This qualification is delivered through our innovative assessment of prior learning centre, Capable NZ and you will study via an Independent Learning Pathway. This means that we measure your existing capability, gained through years or work and life experience, against this qualification and give academic credit for what you already know. Through critical reflection and self-assessment, you will progress on a journey of learning and personal development which will ultimately facilitate transformational change.   

Embrace the opportunity to take your place in a community of leaders of change!  

Credits: Photo (left) Pine Watt on Unsplash, photo (right) Aaron Burden on Unsplash 

Career opportunities

Come away from this programme with an increasingly sought-after set of skills which can be integrated into a diverse number of professions, such as:

  • Business leader creating impact through corporate social responsibility
  • Local government employee influencing policy
  • Founder of social enterprise
  • Educators focusing on education for sustainability
  • Community-led development facilitator
Entry requirements
  • Minimum academic entry criteria are:
    • an undergraduate degree, OR
    • appropriate degree-equivalent practical, professional or scholarly experience. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Additional costs
  • You will need to budget for travel and accommodation to at least one learning intensive (each intensive lasts three to four days).
  • You will also need a computer and broadband for participating in online meetings.
  • Projects may also incur additional costs but this will form part of your project planning. 
Your workload

This programme is delivered through an individualised learning pathway that is highly self-directed. The weekly workload will be 37.5 hours and this includes class time and any project- or work-based learning, as well as the individual study time. 

Programme content 
Compulsory courses

A systems approach to sustainable practice

Level 6

15 credits

Delve into the background of how and why human activity is currently unsustainable to establish the importance of future thinking. 

Indicative content

  • Economic, social, cultural and political aspects of human relationship with nature
  • Pupuri Taoka (looking after resources), whakatakoto tikaka mo Te Ao Turoa (conservation and natural resource management according to Maori values) and kaitiakitaka (guardianship)
  • Ecology
  • Frameworks for strategic sustainable development
  • Systems thinking
  • Change process 

Communicate Sustainability

Level 6

15 credits

Engage and have dialogue with a chosen community to support the implementation of sustainable practice. 


  • Engagement and dialogue methods
  • Traditional and Social media communication tools.
  • Strategy development and implementation
  • Review of engagement and dialogue success.
  • Suitable framework for strategic sustainable development
  • Reflecting on the impact of your communications strategy 

Implementing Sustainable Practice

Level 7

15 credits

Experience the implementation of sustainable practice in a chosen setting and critically evaluate a pathway for improved success. 

Indicative content

  • Collaborative approaches in implementation of sustainable practice
  • Frameworks for sustainable practice success occurring locally, nationally and internationally
  • Legislative approaches and frameworks
  • Leadership in sustainable practice
  • Action capability and action competence 

Organisational Research Design

Level 7

15 credits

Develop your ability to conceptualise and scope an investigation to research an organisational challenge or opportunity. 

Indicative content

  • Understanding ambiguous situations
  • Challenges, opportunities and problems faced by managers
  • Using contemporary management concepts theories and tools
  • Workplace roles and expectations
  • Clear and Effective communication
  • Proposal, permission to undertake an investigation
  • Developing arguments in a report
  • Writing research proposals
  • Critique and critical thinking
  • Research methodologies and data collection techniques
  • Ethical and legal frameworks relating to investigations
  • Linking theories to investigations
  • Developing supportive arguments
  • Referencing and citation
  • Applying problem solving steps and approaches 

Industry Project

Level 7

30 credits

Enjoy the chance to apply your learning, test the relevance of academic theories in the workplace and to reflect critically on the relationship between your academic study and industry practice. 


  • Industry placement
  • Research – proposal, data collection, analysis and report 

Evaluating Sustainable Practice

Level 7

15 credits

Evaluate how successful sustainable practice implementation has been and is likely to be in the future in a chosen setting through experience and reflection. 


  • Understanding the expertise or talent needs of sustainability interventions and the associated staffing processes
  • Evaluating Frameworks on Strategic Sustainable Development.
  • Evaluating action capability individually, as a team and in an organisation  
Elective courses 

As well as the compulsory courses above, you will undertake one of the following 15 credit electives: 

Sustainable Practice in Business Level 5 Identify and analyse existing sustainable methods and processes used in industry and to develop and introduce a change plan to improve current practice. 
Creating Living Buildings Level 6 Apply the living building principals to a chosen project in the built environment. 
Sustainable Land Management Level 6 Understand how land can be used indefinitely.
Sustainable Production and Organic Certification Level 6 Understand the knowledge required for sustainable production and by organic certifying bodies for ‘organic’ status. 
Social Entrepreneurship Level 6 Analyse and articulate social entrepreneurship in sustainable community. 
Strategic Planning for Small Business Level 6 Develop a strategic plan for a small business in New Zealand.
Special Topic Level 6 Carry out research into a special topic in business. Present a research proposal and negotiate objectives, a learning plan, assessment criteria and a timeframe with an academic supervisor and the Programme Manager. 
Sustainable Lean Systems for Business Excellence Level 7 Develop high-level (and operationally-executable) understandings of systems-thinking approaches to the development and management of lean systems that are both eco-sustainable and socio-economically sustainable. 
Sustainable Community Development Level 7 Analyse and articulate sustainable community development. 
Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chain Level 7 Develop an understanding of the sustainability reporting process and apply a suitable framework to a chosen organisation producing a pathway to a report. 
Sustainability Reporting and Measurement Level 7 Develop an understanding of the sustainability reporting process and apply a suitable framework to a chosen organisation producing a pathway to a report. 
Special Topic Level 7 Carry out research into a special topic in business. Present a research proposal and negotiate objectives, a learning plan, assessment criteria and a timeframe with an academic supervisor and the Programme Manager. 
Further study options

We offer the Master of Professional Practice and Doctor of Professional Practice through Capable NZ - ideal qualifications to further develop your capabilities and enhance your practice. 

Useful resources

This OERU series of micro courses is based, in part, on this programme: 

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:


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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