HomeProgrammesCreativeNew Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 6)

New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 6)

Level 6

The New Zealand Diploma in Photography Level 6 prepares you for a professional photography career. Benefit from the long term success of photographic training at UCOL, setting the benchmark for professional photographic imaging across New Zealand

UCOL learners learning about lighting at the inhouse photography studio
Quick info

Level: 6

Locations:  UCOL 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 advanced knowledge and in solving visual problems through idea generation, composition, lighting and using various equipment.

We’ll introduce you to a range of photographic ideas from fashion and advertising through to wedding and portrait, product and still life, documentary and video, architecture and food. You’ll build your industry portfolio and develop your creative talent in a practical, career focused way.

UCOL brings you strong links with the photographic industry and opportunities to showcase your work on a local, national and global stage. UCOL Photography learners have attained unprecedented success at the NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards, achieving New Zealand Student of the Year for twelve consecutive years, New Zealand Tertiary Institution of the Year for eight consecutive years and winner of the Canon Eyecon Award for six consecutive years.

Past learners have gone on to craft successful careers in areas of fashion, wedding, portrait, newspaper and architecture, here and abroad.

Why do you study at UCOL 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 work in entry-level professional photography practitioner roles or as self-employed/freelance practitioners.

  • Portrait photographer
  • Fashion photographer
  • Wedding photographer
  • Food photographer
  • Architectural photographer
  • Photo-journalist
  • Product photographer
  • Newspaper photographer
  • Photoshop retoucher
  • Videographer
  • Photographic assistant
  • Production manager
  • Studio manager

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

 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.

Photographic Practice 2A (30 Credits)
Develop advanced skills in photography as a medium to express creative ideas, and learn how to solves visual problems through idea generation, composition, lighting and using various equipment. This course will cover:

  • Advanced camera skills
  • Creative solutions to unfamiliar visual problems
  • Industry-appropriate lighting techniques
  • Industry-appropriate camera equipment and accessories (range may include but is not limited to, full-frame digital cameras, and medium format digital cameras)
  • Use of materials and techniques to enhance industry-relevant photographic communication (covering subjects which may include but not limited to, formal and informal portraiture, wedding, families, children, graduation, product lighting setups, architecture, food, landscape, editorial, corporate, advertising, creative)
  • Generate advanced visual ideas from research and analysis of the initial brief leading to digital capture and progressing to resolution (range may include but need not be limited to composition, digital manipulation, presentation and written component).

Digital Production 2A (15 Credits)
Gain advanced skills in communicating visual ideas, through understanding digital imaging technology. The course will cover:

  • Intermediate manipulation of RAW files
  • Advanced use of software relevant to the photographic industry
  • Imported images are selected, manipulated and combined to meet the specified purpose,
  • Advanced retouching techniques which may include but not limited to soft focus, skin smoothing, image detail replacement techniques, etc
  • Advanced tonal and colour control using adjustment layers and layer masks,
  • Advanced tools are used to produce a range of effects,
  • Advanced selection techniques
  • Advanced image compositing techniques may include but not limited to duplicate layers, local selections feathering, layer masks and channel masks, blending layers, etc.
  • Advanced digital image integration into design applications 
  • The advanced application of design elements, principles and processes to solve visual imaging problems
  • The advanced use of relevant software to create, import and manipulate text, graphics and imagery
  • Creation of advanced computer-based design layouts
  • Advanced use of type (fonts, shape, point size, kerning, leading, weight, layout)
  • Communicating through type 
  • Intermediate filming, lighting and camera techniques using DSLR cameras
  • Intermediate storyboarding and narrative visual communication
  • Framing and composition related to video
  • Intermediate  video post-production techniques and editing software
  • Intermediate knowledge of specialist software in video and sound editing
  • Sound recordings including how to get clean audio with background noise

Photographic Practice 2B (30 Credits)
Develop specialised skills in photography as a medium to express creative ideas. Learn how to solve visual problems through idea generation, composition, lighting and using various equipment. Create a portfolio of photographic work at a professional standard relevant to the photographic imaging industry.

Digital Production 2B (15 Credits)
Gain specialised skills in communicating visual ideas, through understanding digital imaging technology.

Photographic Communication 2C (15 Credits)
Gain knowledge and understanding of theories and histories significant to photography and related media. Analyse and discuss, visual semiotics and the construction of meaning in photographic images. Gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of selected photographers in their respective historical, social, and cultural contexts. Identify, research, reflect and discuss the appropriate historical and theoretical contexts for your own work.

Photographic Industry & Business 2C (15 Credits)
Gain specialised knowledge of intellectual property law and the copyright act in relation to photography in a New Zealand context. Develop an understanding of business management, control systems and operations. Evaluate the current photographic marketplace and generate strategies for career development and self-promotion.

 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 learners 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

Students must have successfully completed the New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5).

If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6 with no band score less than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL).


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 learners applicants.

English language proficiency
International learner applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (ie combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).

 Advice & Guidance

Prospective learners should understand that the New Zealand Diploma in Photography, Level 6 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 learner 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.


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 student 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 Diploma in Photography (Level 6) as follows:

Memory cards

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

  • 16GB SD card - $30

Hard drive

Photography requires a lot of storage – a minimum two 1TB hard drive 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.

  • Additional printing cost of $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. Some of these items may be reused from New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5).


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.