HomeProgrammesCreativeNew Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5)

New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5)

Level 5

The New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 5 builds on the long term success of photographic training at UCOL, setting the benchmark for programmes in professional photographic imaging across New Zealand.

A UCOL photography learner holding a light stand at the inhouse photgraphy studio
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations:  UCOL Te Pūkenga Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 1 year, full time (part-time options are available)

04 Mar 2024 - 22 Nov 2024

Domestic Fees: *

Scholarship info

International Fees:*
$25,000.00 + Student Services Levy $591.00

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.

Focusing on the exciting diversity of contemporary professional photography, you will develop a range of creative and technical skills, gain confidence, and be a step closer to achieving your goal of working in the photographic industry. 

The New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 5 gives you an introduction to photography as a medium to express creative ideas. Develop introductory knowledge and skills in solving visual problems through idea-generation, composition, lighting, use of equipment, image processing and presentation.

Why do you study at UCOL Te Pūkenga and this programme? Because we are here to help achieve your dream!
You have award winning, industry experience lecturers available to give face to face feedback making sure you are on the right track for improvement. Having smaller classes makes a difference in regards to you receiving quality instruction Step by step they take you through what is working and what requires improvement. When critiquing your work, we can read your expressions and see your body language to help us understand what is being perceived. Additionally, excellent wellbeing and educational support systems, community and Industry connections. Have a look through the content and make sure this course is for you – it is always important to be in a programme where you want to thrive – it makes learning a pleasure.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

  • Apply problem-solving skills to a range of design challenges within a photographic context
  • Apply conceptual, creative and technical skills in photographic imaging
  • Apply knowledge of image making and use of technologies relevant to a range of photographic applications and genres
  • Create a range of photographic imaging works
  • Analyse and evaluate own photographic work and the work of others
  • Self-manage photographic project briefs within defined guidelines
  • Behave professionally in a photographic work environment.

Employment options include working in junior technical or assistant roles within a photography environment.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries for Photographers, see careers.govt.nz

Education pathway

You could choose to undertake further study in the sector, including:

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL Te Pūkenga is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time. If you have any questions call an Enrolment Advisor on 0800 468 265.

This programme consists of 120 credits.

The UCOL Te Pūkenga  Te Pūkenga New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 5 is a one-year diploma followed by the New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 6.

Semester 1

Photographic Practice 1A - Solving visual problems through idea generation, composition, lighting, use of equipment, image processing and presentation.

Digital production 1A - Introduction to skills and knowledge in communicating visual ideas, through understanding digital imaging technology. (Photoshop, Bridge and Indesign)

Semester 2
Photographic Practice 1B - Develop knowledge and skills in solving visual problems through idea generation, composition, and lighting using digital imaging technology.

Digital production 1B - Skills and knowledge in communicating visual ideas, through understanding digital imaging technology.

Both semesters
Photographic Communication 1C - History of photography - technological, social and political approaches. Explore cultural and artistic ideas, identify photographic practitioners and differentiate their stylistic approaches.

Photographic Industry & Business 1C - Understanding of the professional photographic environment. Develop a broad understanding of the skill and knowledge required to operate a photographic business. Intellectual property law and the copyright act in relation to photography in a New Zealand context.

Previous Related Programmes

The New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 5 supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • Diploma in Photographic Imaging

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Industry Connections

The programme has strong industry connections in New Zealand and overseas:

  • Canon New Zealand
  • New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP)
  • AIPA (Advertising & Illustrative Photographers Association)
  • INFOCUS – The Iris Awards
  • Manawatu Standard
  • New Zealand Police Forensic Department
  • New Zealand Army
  • Te Manawa Museum
  • Palmerston North Airport
  • Horizons Palmerston North
  • BCC (Building Clever Companies), Palmerston North 

 Learning Facilities

UCOL Te Pūkenga provides students with a learning environment that enables individuals to master the craft and business of photography. Each campus contains large-scale commercial shooting studios, equipped with professional lighting systems, modification accessories, and studio props. 

Specialised equipment is available to borrow throughout your studies, including 35mm and medium format digital solutions and accessories; moving image cameras, sound recording equipment and accessories, and portable lighting systems. 

The computer suites and professional imaging work stations are furnished with Apple iMacs and up-to-date Adobe Creative Suite software, to optimize the digital workflow process. We also provide an in-house professional printing and finishing suite equipped with large format printers. 

Additionally, we have a bright and airy student lounge, lockers and a kitchenette designed to add comfort. 

 Domestic Entry Requirements

The general conditions of the New Zealand Diploma in Photography, Level 5, state learners must hold a Level 3 qualification or be able to demonstrate equivalent skills and/or knowledge.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5 with no band score less than 5 (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).


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

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

English language proficiency
International learner applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic  score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5 (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).

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

Prospective learners should understand that the New Zealand Diploma in Photography, Level 5 requires motivation, organisational skills and commitment.

Where class content is delivered on campus, a high level of attendance is recommended if learners are to satisfactorily meet the learning outcomes. If a student misses a key session or significant portion of the programme, progress may be hampered. It is highly recommended that consistent attendance levels are maintained and notified key sessions are attended.

Where programme content is delivered on-line it is necessary that learners maintain a high level of commitment to completing the programme content and that regular communication is maintained with lecturers.

Timetable Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a weekly commitment of:

  • 15 hours  of lecturer supported learning in class
  • 23 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent working to complete your assignments)

Please be aware there will probably be at least one night class a week. If you choose to do part-time work, we recommend a maximum of 10 hours a week.

Recognition of prior learning
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 learner believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Te Pūkenga Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

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 (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs


Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Arts and Design Level 3 dependent on what electives you choose as follows:

Memory cards

You'll need two memory cards minimum to use a DSLR cameras and video cameras at UCOL Te Pūkenga. 

  • 16GB SD card - $30
  • CF 32G high speed - extreme pro memory card (for videography) - $126

Hard drive

Creative Media requires a lot of storage – a minimum two 1 TB or one 2TB hard drive is required. Note that many students prefer to purchase a 2TB hard drive.

  • 1TB/2TB hard drive - $200

Pen drives/USB flash drives

  • Two 16GB pen drives - $80 

Equipment Bond

To use equipment out of class time, a bond for the use of cameras, tripods, Wacom tablets and other equipment must be paid. All students are required to pay this, which is refundable at the end of the year, if no damage to equipment has occurred.

  • Equipment bond - $80

Additional Printing

You will be supplied with a $50 print credit at the beginning of the year. However, in order to complete the programme, additional print credits will be required. Please note that this is a minimum guide, as printing needs differ with paper choices and printing is not an exact science. When it comes to colour management sometimes more test printing is required.

  • $200


One can of 3M spray mount glue (product defined, as we have found this is the best one and is industry standard) and double-sided tape.

  • 3M spray mount glue or double-sided tape - up to $60

Mounting boards/foam core

  • $120

Visual diaries/ Journal

A minimum of two A4 books for use as a visual diary (may be digital)

  • $30


  • A2 portfolio case for carrying works in a safe manner - form $20 for a manilla version
  • Field trips - various trips will have optional costs associated with them. They are recommended for expanding your knowledge. 
  • Ipad Air 2, Wacom tablet or Android tablet for drawing - $180 - $1,300
  • Computers or laptops with solid state for safety with bumping, 8GB RAM with 256 Flash Memory - up to $4,000.00
  • Adobe Creative Cloud education license - $370.00.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: A loan for course-related costs is available from StudyLink of up to $1000. 


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning Limited, a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.