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Master of Design

Level 9

Take your passion for design to the next level with Whanganui UCOL’s Master of Design degree.

Student design work at UCOL
Quick info

Level: 9

Locations: Whanganui

Duration: 18 months,* full-time (see Advice & Guidance)

20 Feb 2017 - 1 Dec 2017

Domestic Fees:*
$7,601.80Scholarship info

International Fees:*

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). Fees for multi-year programmes are for one year of study.

Whanganui UCOL is home to the renowned Whanganui School of Design (WSD) where students of the Master of Design programme study with the best in the field. Our highly skilled lecturers deliver the art/design theory and original academic/applied research required for you to create advanced projects of your choice in either time-based/print-based design, object design/visual arts or fashion/textile design.

Master of Design graduates will excel in a range of industries such as galleries, fashion houses, graphic design studios, film and television, printing and publishing, web design, art studios, set design and much more.

Candidates for this programme must undertake and complete a written thesis based on their research initiatives and prepare a body of work for final exhibition. They must possess an exceptional degree of motivation and a strong enthusiasm for art/design.

Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of UCOL's Master of Design will be able to:

  • Understand the historical, social, bi-cultural and multi-cultural context in which they work
  • Provide evidence of effort and application in successfully completing the learning outcomes
  • Apply knowledge, research skills and attitudes learned through problem solving projects in selected areas of design
  • Understand the importance and use of a design theory and methodology as a way of working
  • Show evidence of exploration, experimentation and applied innovation through research
  • Have considerable experience in the operation of hardware and software
  • Positively evaluate their own work and that of others
  • Negotiate commitments and meet deadlines
  • Apply an integrity of approach to materials, process and intention

Graduates will be suitably equipped to work in a variety of roles in the design based industries, including:

  • Advertising
  • Consultancy
  • Art/Design education
  • Art/Design studios
  • Fashion Studios
  • Galleries and museums
  • Set design and styling
  • Television and video production
  • Printing, publishing and illustration
  • Research and development
  • Self-employment
  • Graphic design
  • Textile design
  • Visual communications
  • Website design
  • Object and craft design
  • Practicing artist
  • Doctoral study

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Designers and Artists and Photographers.

Industry Connections

  • Whanganui School of Design is a Corporate Member of the Designers Institute of NZ (DINZ)
  • Whanganui School of Design students and graduates have taken out top prizes in the Designers Institute of New Zealand's (DINZ) BEST Awards many times over the years.
  • Whanganui School of Design has an impressive range of Industry stakeholders in the fields of Animation, Web, Publication, Video, Game Design and Illustration.
  • Whanganui School of Design students undertake real-life Industry projects in a wide-range of design industries each year through Internships.
  • Whanganui School of Design graduates work at Weta Digital, TVNZ, Digital Arts Network, Charactaz Animation, Saatchi and Saatchi and more.

Learning Facilities

The Whanganui School of Design is a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) heritage award winning building located on Taupo Quay and features modern spacious studio suites with industry leading technology and equipment.

Domestic Entry Requirements

To be eligible for entry into the Master of Design, applicants must have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, or a similar qualification in art or design, or be able to demonstrate equivalent skills and knowledge.

Applications must be made on the standard UCOL Student Application Form and provide information on relevant experience, academic qualifications and academic record.

Applicants may be asked to provide a portfolio of original, developmental and finished work.

Selection critera:
Applicants are selected in order of receipt of their completed enrolment application and all entry requirements have been met. Each candidate will be required to submit a professional portfolio and a research proposal.
The portfolio of work needs to demonstrate graduate level engagement with design activity. Portfolios can take a number of different formats and each will be considered on a case-by-case basis. They can be submitted either in hard copy or digital format and could contain any combination of the following:
  • Time-based design 
  • Print-based design
  • Photography 
  • Visual arts and illustration 
  • Original film or video
  • Web design and/or development
  • Game design and/or other interactive media 

Research Proposal
  • Statement of your research question and your objectives
  • Other key questions and sub-questions you want to address in the research
  • The research methodology you will use and your reasons for using these particular methods
  • How your research is important and what gaps you hope to fill within current knowledge
  • Identification of current developments in your chosen research topic
  • A realistic time plan for carrying out all your research (
  • A short list of references to key articles and texts included in the application

International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international students.

English Proficiency Entry Requirements:
The minimum entry requirement for international students is IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6 (or equivalent, including TOEFL).  IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre.      

Under 20 years of age

For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

Advice & Guidance

The Master of Design, Level 9 comprises 180 credits, of which 120 credits are at Level 8 and 60 at Level 9. 

Work experience/industry project
As part of your studies you will undertake industry oriented design or art projects that address the needs of the project client.

Recognition of prior learning
Up to two-thirds of the qualification may be credited via recognition of prior learning.  In exceptional circumstances, this amount may be increased by the Faculty Board of Educational Improvement. 

Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes they can demonstrate specified competencies.

Course Information

Compulsory courses:
  • Advanced Research Methods for Design
  • Concept Development Studio
  • Major Project
  • Thesis Dissertation and Implementation

Elective courses:
The availability of a particular elective is subject to an appropriate number of students enrolling in that elective.

  • Advanced Digital Photography
  • Advanced Illustration
  • Advanced Glass Studio
  • Advanced Textile and Fibre
  • Advanced Computer Aided Drafting
  • Advanced Object
  • Advanced Printmaking
  • Advanced Moving Image


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.