Otago Polytechnic

Bachelor of Leadership for Change


Anywhere in New Zealand, with the expectation that you will attend an intensive in Dunedin each year  

Three years full-time

Blended learning, customised facilitation and group online webinars 

  • Location
    Study breaks
  • CapableNZ
    1 January 2019
Are you driven by a desire to create positive difference to an industry, community or your world?

Create your own direction with this cutting-edge, future-focused degree. A New Zealand-first, this qualification is for those with purpose and passion, no matter what field you want to make a difference in.

This programme is significantly self-directed and project-based. It develops transferable, 21st century skills and has a strong focus on self-awareness, communication, collaboration and creativity.

From the first year, you will be required to work alongside, and within, businesses or organisations in the field in which you wish to effect change.

You will be supported and nurtured throughout this process by an experienced team of skilful and innovative facilitators. You can be based anywhere in New Zealand, with the expectation that you will attend an intensive in Dunedin each year. 

Entry requirements

Academic entry requirements

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading, and 
    • 5 credits in writing 
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards - specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or 
    • unti standards - package of three numeracy unti standards (26623, 26626, 26627 - all three required)
  • OR equivalent.   
  • 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.

Other requirements 

All learners will also need to undertake an interview to demonstrate:

  • clarity in why, how and where you intend on making a difference 
  • evidence of capability to manage your own learning/learn independently/seek learning opportunities that foster interests and aspirations
  • willingness to, or experience of making a difference (e.g. have previous experience of service to others such as volunteering)
  • ability to work collaboratively.  
Who is this programme for? 

This programme is for big thinkers and doers who want to create meaningful and positive change.  

For example, you might have a real passion to address water issues in somewhere like Central Otago (New Zealand). You would therefore spend the three years becoming the best Drylands Water Advocate possible. If your interest lies in a completely different area however, let's say you have an idea for a startup business that will revolutionise the fishing industry, you would probably graduate having already founded your startup, well on your way to making that change happen! 

This degree is for people who want to "make a difference" whether that be in business, not-for-profit, or community etc.

What will I gain?

The purpose of this programme is to meet the needs of learners, communities, enterprises and other groups in professions in an unknown future. This is a future where professions are not yet established but are emerging as hybrids of current professions or as new professions emerging from innovation. 

This degree has been designed to meet the needs of learners who want to develop a practice that is not well captured by current professions. 

It will provide future employees with the skills and knowledge to work in as yet undefined professions. In addition, learners will gain the transferable skills to adapt and creat an impact in a constantly-changing context. 

Career outcomes might include Community Facilitator, Project Manager, Entrepreneur, Community Support Worker, Alternative Retailer, Service Designer, Environmental Advocate, NGO organiser, Council Activities Coordinator, Green Business Development Advisor, Events Organiser, Analyst (within not-for-profit sector) or Mentor. 

Alternatively, you can design your own career and come up with your own job title (i.e. Drylands Water Advocate)!  

How is the degree taught?

This programme is taught by a series of curated experiences and projects, with negotiated learning and regular catch ups to develop and achieve your professional framework of practice (i.e. what it means to be a Dryland Water Advocate or Technology Founder or Community Organiser, for example). 

It is a capability degree that focuses on transferable skills. 

The outcome of your degree and the way it is achieved is largely determined by you, through a facilitated process of nurturing, curated experiences, reflection and the development of an emergent professional framework of practice.

So, using our Central Otago water issues example again, by the end of the degree you would have a business card that said Drylands Water Advocate, and the experience, skills and knowledge to justify it. 

If, on the other hand, you want to make a difference in the community sector but aren't sure of the issue or levers you can pull, the curated experiences will expose you to a range of work environments to help you identify your passion and the tools needed - for example, community housing with social networking as an important lever. You'd first work with experts to describe a professional framework for your area of focus and then undertake projects, negotiated learning and professional experience to develop those capabilities. You could then graduate as, for example, a Network Facilitator in Community Resilience.     

How is the programme assessed?

At the end of the degree, you will present to a panel and articulate your professional framework of practice. This forms the basis for much of the assessment throughout the degree - the development of your 'exit strategy'. The exit strategy approach also enables an ongoing focus on your network, portfolio and employment. This exit strategy is the focus of regular reflection and planning sessions throughout the degree. Particular competencies and capabilities may be evidenced through specific assessments, but as a guiding rule, these are practice-based.  

Our facilitators 

Your learning journey will be guided by facilitators from Otago Polytechnic's Capable NZ. Although the Bachelor of Leadership for Change* is a new degree, it is based on Capable NZ's highly successful Independent Learning Pathway. To date, more than 1,200 people have learned and graduated with degrees and postgraduate qualifications using this framework. 

Our facilitators are experts in helping you identify and reach your own goals and the facilitators selected to work with learners on this degree are also passionate change-makers.  

Placement costs 

This qualification is strongly project-based. You will undertake projects within your first, second and third year. These may well be within the local area or within another part of New Zealand. You will be responsible for your own travel, accommodation and living costs during these projects which may span a number of weeks. A big part of making a difference is the ability to seek out and secure funding so we'll make sure this relationship building is covered during your programme.

Student loans and allowances 

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students who have lived in New Zealnd for three years. 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. 

For more information 

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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