Bachelor of Product Design

Bachelor of Product Design

Professor Conan Fee, Head of UC School of Product Design.


Product Design combines creative design, science, engineering and business studies. Product designers plan and develop items for use in homes, businesses and industry. From creating a new lightweight kayak or a phone app, to formulating natural cosmetics or a virtual training world, studying product design will equip you for a wide range of occupations. 

Graduates will be able to develop creative ideas based on their knowledge of related sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as gain the practical business skills needed to commercialise new products. This degree will prepare you for a modern career path in many areas of New Zealand's innovative economy.

UC’s new Bachelor of Product Design (BProdDesign) is a three-year professional degree with majors in: 

Features of the new Bachelor of Product Design at UC

  • Only university degree of its kind in the South Island
  • Three-year degree
  • Includes a number of projects where students can test out their ideas, independently and as a team
  • Access to state-of-the-art laboratory, computer and testing facilities
  • UC is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world in Business and Management Studies, Chemical Engineering, and Computer Science and Information Systems (QS World Rankings by Subject, 2017)
  • UC's Chemical and Process Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Marketing departments are the top-ranked for research in New Zealand (the latest Tertiary Education Commission 2012 PBRF assessment).

Entry requirements

Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. Domestic applicants over 20 who do not hold University Entrance, or equivalent, may gain admission by providing evidence of their ability to complete tertiary study successfully. 

For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Recommended preparation

At least 14 credits in Level 2 NCEA science and mathematics are strongly recommended, while those intending to take the Chemical, Natural and Healthcare Product Formulation major should ideally have 14 credits in Level 3 NCEA chemistry (or the IB/CIE equivalent of these).

Credits in related subjects such as digital technologies, technology, or design and visual communication would be an advantage.

Visit the College of Engineering for more details on recommended preparation, including an outline for different qualification frameworks.

Qualification structure and duration

The degree is a three-year 360 points qualification with a combination of coursework and design projects: 

  • 135 points of Product Design courses
  • 165 points of Science and Engineering courses
  • 60 points of Business or Management courses.

Design projects will involve independent work on open-ended projects, with a mix of individual and team-based activities, under close supervision by academics with experience in product design.

You can start the Bachelor of Product Design degree in February.

Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Product Design

Year 1Year 2Year 3
    Compulsory courses
    Courses required for major
(1) Select courses from the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degrees, depending on chosen major.
(2) 200 or 300-level course from MGMT, MKTG, ECON, FINC or ACCT. If students have not completed MKTG 100 then at least 15 points of MKTG 200 or 300-level courses.
(3) Select 15 points above 200-level from the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours or Bachelor of Science degree schedules.
For major requirements please go to the Regulations for the Bachelor of Product Design.
Each small block represents a 15-point courses. However, some courses may be 30 points (or more).

Double Degrees

It is possible to combine the study of a BProdDesign with other degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Engineering with Honours, or a Bachelor of Commerce. If you are considering this you should get advice from the College of Engineering Student Advisors or the Liaison Office.

Find out more information about Double degrees.

Conjoint degrees*

Students can study the Conjoint Bachelor Degree of Product Design and Science or the Conjoint Bachelor Degree of Product Design and Commerce, which requires 60 points less than a double degree and will be completed in four years in an intensive format. For example, students may want to study the Applied Immersive Game Design BProdDesign major with the Computer Science BSc major, or the Industrial Product Design BProdDesign major with the Marketing BCom major. Contact a Student Advisor from each relevant College or School for course planning advice.

* Subject to Universities New Zealand CUAP approval, due December 2017.

Subjects and courses

You can study one of three majors within the new Bachelor of Product Design.

Applied Immersive Game Design

Applied Immersive Game Design covers both virtual and augmented reality – an industry that is currently undergoing massive growth. Students learn about the development of games for entertainment, and “applied” games for training/education and for carrying out remote activities.

Chemical, Natural and Healthcare Product Formulation

Chemical, biological, pharmaceutical, food, and personal care products must be formulated in a way that enables their practical, safe and sustainable use. For example, a moisturising skin lotion must not only contain moistening agents but also the components required to create a stable colloidal suspension with suitable viscosity, skin feel and fragrance to make it an attractive product for the consumer, with anti-microbial agents and a suitably long shelf-life. This major will allow you to explore ways to better formulate these products, and to analyse existing products and suggest improvements.

Industrial Product Design

Every product we buy has a combination of both design and usability elements. This major will teach you how to design products which solve a problem and create desire in consumers. You will learn to understand consumer needs and trends, and create more efficient designs and features for products. These could include a new microwave reheating feature or an improved vacuum cleaner.

Further study

UC has a wide range of relevant options for postgraduate study, including qualifications in Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Business and Marketing.

Career opportunities

The scope of product design roles is widening from the traditional design of commercial products to include the design of user experiences, systems and processes as well as implementing virtual reality into existing applications.

Increasingly, many product designers work in multidisciplinary teams. Graduates may be employed in design departments for large manufacturing companies, design agencies, educational and training companies, engineering consultancies, central and local government.

They may do design work for businesses in many industries such as medical, home appliances, packaging, computing, education, graphic design, cosmetics, or therapeutics and pharmaceutical companies.

Product designers can choose to start their own company.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Product Design. For more information on facilities, resources and staff, visit the College of Engineering | Te Rāngai Pūkaha

For more general information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students), or a College of Engineering Student Advisor (advancing students).

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