Bachelor of Design (Product)

  • Location
    Study breaks
  • CapableNZ
    1 January 2021
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    19 April 2021 - 30 April 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    19 April 2021 - 30 April 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    19 April 2021 - 30 April 2021
    4 October 2021 - 15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022
    27 June 2022 - 22 July 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022
    27 June 2022 - 15 July 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022
    27 June 2022 - 15 July 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022
    3 October 2022 - 14 October 2022

Product Design is an exciting, ever-evolving profession focused on designing objects and systems to improve the way we live.

As a product designer you could work for corporations, manufacturers, consultancies and in the public sector, working to create specialised equipment with multidisciplinary teams that include doctors, researchers and engineers.

You'll graduate well-equipped for the workforce, with transferable skills in project management, communication, marketing and idea generation. 

Why study Product Design with us?

An Otago Polytechnic design degree allows you to develop specialist and transferable skills that are sought after by employers but also well-suited to entrepreneurship and self-employment. 

You'll graduate as a work-ready designer with strengths in your chosen design field. You'll also have an understanding of your responsibilities as a designer, learning to design better experiences, create more responsive products and services and consider people, planet and place in the process. 

Throughout your degree, you'll have the opportunities to work with design students from other disciplines and develop communication, organisational and collaboration skills through electives, interdisciplinary, individual and team-based projects.

Benefits of studying with us
  • Valuable industry experience that gives you key connections
  • A range of international exchange opportunities with global partner institutions
  • Human-centred approaches, manufacturing processes and aesthetic considerations to enhance your concepts and ideas
  • A balanced curriculum of theoretical content and studio-based projects
  • Highly personalised learning with small classes and plenty of one-on-one support
  • World-class technology, CAD suites and technical support that will provide you with all the tools you need to get the most out of your learning
  • Employers want our Product Design graduates for their problem-solving abilities, agile thinking and teamwork. In this programme you'll design, build and test prototypes to understand and refine concepts and cultivate your skills in:
    • conceptualisation
    • drawing
    • model-making
    • CAD software
    • graphic design
    • production methods.
What will I learn?
Year one 

You'll develop a foundation of skills and techniques that allow you to practice as a product designer. These include hands-on skills such as sketching, prototyping and material technologies, as well as human-centred design principles, ergonomics, design history and research skills, 3D modelling software and Adobe Creative Suite. In design studios, you'll respond to a project brief, drawing on all your learning to design and create your own products. 

Year two 

The second year introduces you to design for sustainability strategies and design thinking for entrepreneurship. In the studio project, you'll work on a client brief to learn about the commercial realities of designing for the real world. At the same time, you'll also learn to develop more advanced skills and techniques in understanding materials and production processes, and modelling software. 

Year three 

Take your designing to the next level and apply advanced design research skills and production processes to respond to a client brief, working either in a team or individually. You're encouraged to bring in a project brief of your own interest and work in a real-world context. By the end of the year, you'll have built up a portfolio that will help you take the next step in your design career! 

First aid and using equipment safely

You'll be working with wood, metal, plastics, textiles, painting plant and equipment. There are risks and potential hazards in the work spaces and studios. We will let you know about them before you start the programme and we will train you in first aid and in how to use the workshop and studio equipment safely on your own. 

You will also have significant exposure to working with design software and be required to have computer health and safety training. 

Your tutors

Machiko Niimi

Machiko is interested in Human Centred Design and likes looking at what we do everyday and how this affects our behaviour. Machiko values both applied methods and the practice of design to increase sustainability of products and services. 

Gavin O'Brien 

Gavin is a design historian and a cross-disciplinary educator with 20 years’ experience in teaching. He has a diverse background of research, practice and education across fine arts, design and architecture and is interested in the intersection of culture and technology. He considers that 'Design is making sense of things' and has has a passion for products that provoke this understanding.

Andrew Wallace

Andrew loves exploring the process of designing and learning new ways to express ideas. Coming to design education with an  industry background, he remains active within industry.   

Your workload

There is an emphasis throughout the three year programme on the development of independent learning skills. This is reflected in the decrease of directed hours over the three years with an expectation that, by the end of year three, you will be an independent learner.

Hours are allocated as follows, based on a 32-week academic year: 


Directed (Class Contact Hours)

Approximate Hours Per Week

Self-Directed (Non-Class Contact

Approximate Hours Per Week
















Further study options

Advance your design skills with our graduate or postgraduate qualifications in Design or Art, or expand your career prospects with a graduate teacher training programme. 

Entry requirements
  • NCEA Level 3
  • 14 credits at Level 3 in each of three NZQA approved university entrance subjects, and
  • 10 Literacy credits at Level 2 or above, made up of: 
    • 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing, and 
  • 10 Numeracy credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects OR
    • package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).

COVID-19 adjustments to NCEA requirements

  • If you completed your NCEA Level 3 during 2020, you only need 12 credits per Level 3 subject (i.e. a total of 36 credits).
  • If you completed your NCEA Level 3 during 2021, please visit this page on the NZQA website. There are different adjustments depending upon which part of New Zealand you studied in.
  • If you do not hold the above qualifications, you must demonstrate equivalent qualifications/experience. Mature applicants with work and life experience are encouraged to apply.
  • You must submit a portfolio (unless you meet the criteria for automatic entry or have a pre-approval for your portfolio – see Your Portfolio section below).
  • You may have to undertake an interview.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet degree-level entry requirements.     
  • 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

Provisional entry

A school leaver or an adult applicant who does not meet all the entry criteria may be given provisional entry to year 1 at the discretion of the Head of School.

  • Those who successfully complete and pass year 1 will be deemed to have met entry requirements and provisional status will be removed.
  • The interview panel will consist of lecturers who teach on the course, along with an academic leader from the department.
  • Applicants will be selected on merit on the basis of their portfolio, evidence of creativity and ability to take a concept through to a model stage, and demonstration of the ability to undertake design study at degree level.

Successful applicants will be informed before the end of the year and be sent detailed information on enrolment procedures, loans, starting dates for the following year and any information that might be required to facilitate a smooth introduction to the programme.

Selection process 

We select people according to a range of criteria. If we have more eligible applicants than places available, we might put you on a waiting list and we may ask you to come in for an interview to discuss your portfolio.

If you don't yet meet the acceptance criteria, we will recommend a study programme to prepare you to apply the next year. 

Your portfolio

You need to submit a portfolio when you apply for this programme 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, or phone 0800 762 786.

Need to submit a portfolio?

A portfolio is a selection of work that shows your creative potential and passion for your chosen design specialty. It can include examples from your school or your own projects at home or in the community.

Additional costs

Please contact the School of Design for a list of equipment, textbooks and resources you must purchase for this programme. Email or phone 0800 762 786 

Student loans and 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. 

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