Innovative Bachelor of Design programme and appointment of Head

The University of Auckland is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting and innovative Bachelor of Design programme based at Elam School of Fine Arts within the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries.

The programme’s goal is to produce designers who understand how to intervene in complex systems with solutions that promote healthier relationships between people, places and the natural world.

Graduates will be equipped with skills in data analytics, design technologies and methodologies capable of addressing a wide range of social, industrial and environmental challenges.

Headed by Associate Professor Debra Polson, the new programme will complement the University’s comprehensive educational offerings at the intersection of art, design and science. Dr. Polson is a senior academic and independent designer, currently based at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology. She will take up her new role in January 2019.

Dr. Polson says she is very excited to be joining the University of Auckland and particularly this ground-breaking programme.

She says: “The new Bachelor of Design will encourage and equip students to be curious, capable and resilient designers who contribute to current social, cultural and technical product and experience design and influence the formulation of future practices.”

From 2020, the University will offer the Bachelor of Design degree together with a suite of conjoint options that allow students to pursue a second undergraduate degree alongside Design. There are conjoint options for Design and Advanced Science, Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Global Studies, Health Sciences, Law, Music, Property, and Science. A Master of Design degree will be added in 2021.

Modelled on proven approaches adopted by the world’s leading schools of Art and Design, the programme represents a new venture for design education in Aotearoa New Zealand. An integral aim of the programme is to expand design education beyond narrow specialisms by embracing the latest design thinking and design practices applicable across many fields.

Students will have the opportunity to select and combine study options according to personal interests and aptitudes. They will acquire real-world learning experience through projects in which they work alongside design industry professionals.

In addition to a core focus on creativity, the programme will teach critical values of social responsiveness, interdisciplinarity and entrepreneurialism.

The three-year undergraduate degree will initially accept 100 students into the first year. To receive updates and an invitation to apply for the Bachelor of Design when applications open, please register your interest now at

Media contact

Miranda Playfair | Media adviser
Mob 021 0638393