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Master of Design

Master of Design

Level 9

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

Student design work at UCOL
Quick info

Level: 9

Locations: UCOL Whanganui

Duration: 18 months, full-time

15 Feb 2020 to 24 June 2022

Domestic Fees: *
$8,113.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

UCOL's 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.

 Course Information

Compulsory courses

Advanced Research Methods for Design (15 credits))
Gain the skills and knowledge to undertake supervised research in a selected design discipline.
Concept Development Studio (15 credits)
Articulate objectives and creatively explore ideas centred on individual research. Through group critiques and discourse you'll clarify individual project objectives and propose outcomes

Major Project (30 credits)
Plan, develop and complete resolved art/design projects based on research concept development work initiated in the prerequisite course.
Thesis Dissertation and Implementation (60 credits)
Develop and carry out an advanced level thesis project based on original research; and advance the body of knowledge within the design and academic industries.


Elective courses

Choose four of the following courses. The availability of a particular elective is subject to an appropriate number of students enrolling in that elective.

Advanced Digital Photography (15 credits)
Apply advanced technical and operational skills in projects and to deepen your knowledge of photography through investigation and analysis of both its historical and contemporary uses and influences.

Advanced Illustration (15 credits)
Enrich and refine the creation of your own contemporary illustration style through experimentation and research for presentation in visual communication and exhibition.
Advanced Glass Studio (15 credits)
Utilise extended concepts and technical applications of studio glass equipment and processes to create advanced art or design projects.
Advanced Textile and Fibre (15 credits)
Utilise extended concepts and advanced technical applications of selected textile and fibre methods. You will use traditional and/or contemporary textile and fibre techniques for use in the production of advanced of art or design projects.
Advanced 3D Modelling (15 credits)
Use advanced computer-modelling capabilities, including Maya software to create 3D models.
Advanced Computer Aided Drafting (15 credits)
Extend your CAD drafting skills using software and devices in the production of advanced art/design projects.
Advanced Object (15 credits)
Develop and extend concepts and utilise a range of advanced technical applications, equipment, and processes to create contemporary three-dimensional art/design objects.
Advanced Printmaking (15 credits)
Advance your knowledge and technical skills in printmaking and extend your conceptual thinking through experimental art/design project work.
Advanced Moving Image (15 credits)
Undertake advanced level study in moving image and sound mediums; and develop strong conceptual approaches to investigation, application and analysis in the resolution of extended moving image productions.

 Industry Connections

  • UCOL's School of Creative Industries (includes programmes and expertise from Wanganui School of Design) is a Corporate Member of the Designers Institute of NZ (DINZ)
  • Our students and graduates have taken out top prizes in the Designers Institute of New Zealand's (DINZ) BEST Awards many times over the years.
  • UCOL has an impressive range of industry stakeholders in the fields of animation, web, publication, video, game design and illustration.
  • Our students undertake real-life industry projects in a wide-range of design industries each year through internships.
  • UCOL's School of Creative Industries graduates work at Weta Digital, TVNZ, Digital Arts Network, Charactaz Animation, Saatchi and Saatchi and more.

 Learning Facilities

UCOL is home to 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


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 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.

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a weekly commitment of:
  • 12 hours of lecturer supported learning in class
  • 26 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent working to complete your assignments)

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email.

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. To find out more, contact UCOL.

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the Master of Design as follows:
  • 32 GB USB flash drive - Approximately $16.00 from Warehouse Stationery
  • Allow up to $800.00 for specialist art and design supplies (dependend on personal preference)


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.