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Diploma in Interior Design

Level 5

Turn your creative talents into a professional career as an interior designer with UCOL’s Diploma in Interior Design.

Interior Design student sketches a house plan
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations: Palmerston North

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

19 Feb 2018 - 30 Nov 2018

Domestic Fees:*
$7,191.50Scholarship info

Find out if you're eligible for fees-free study

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.

In this one-year interior design diploma you will gain the technical and practical skills to transform creative design ideas into a reality.

Learn from award-winning, industry experienced lecturers who will provide you a comprehensive foundation in all aspects of residential interior design including:studying colour, history of interior design, furnishings, drafting, CAD, design theory, ergonomics, kitchen and bathroom design, building technology, materials, finishes and lighting.

 Career & Study Outcomes

On successful completion of UCOl's Diploma in Interior Design, students will have the ability to: 

  • Design and decorate new residential, and existing residential, interior spaces, taking into account the aesthetic, creative, functional and safety requirements of the brief; 
  • Understand and analyse design problems and generate original, creative solutions; 
  • Liaise with clients as a professional consultant, identify their needs and then facilitate them through concept, presentation and documentation; 
  • Advise clients on all aspects of residential interior design, including but not restricted to hard and soft furnishings, colour applications, lighting and décor accessories; present interior design concepts to clients for residential applications using a range of techniques, media and technologies including but not restricted to drawing, draughting, measuring, calculating, computer-aided design, making and presenting colour and sample boards; 
  • Supervise the execution of residential interior design projects through project management and site inspection; 
  • Work in partnership with professionals in associated fields, including but not restricted to architects, engineers, landscape architects, graphic designers, artists and interior décor consultants; 
  • Follow procedures necessary to set up and conduct an interior design practice; develop and maintain a knowledge of sources of related products and a network of reliable suppliers, contractors and associated professionals; 
  • Apply knowledge of manufacturing, construction and fabrication processes relating to the development of residential interior spaces.

You'll be a skilled and professional design consultant able to work in the residential or commercial sector, undertaking design projects for all kinds of businesses, including retail outlets, architects, spec house builders, and kitchen designers.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Designers and Artists.

Education pathway

Graduates who wish to further specialise can enrol in:

 Course Information

  • Design History and Theory: Basic design principles and stylistic developments in western architecture.
  • Construction and manufacturing techniques: Technologies, construction and manufacturing techniques and processes which contribute to the development of residential scaled buildings.
  • Design Practice: An introduction to the fundamental role of colour within the interior design process and the realisation of colour schemes through the application of painting systems.
  • Visual Communication: Reading and interpreting plans, manual draughting, and digital manipulation. 
  • Kitchen and Bathroom: Residential kitchen and bathroom design projects, including specifications and cost estimates.
  • Professional Practice: Basic business practices and procedures. Students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of work experience for this component.
  • Building Materials and components: Building materials, components and finishes commonly used in residential scaled buildings.
  • Drawing and Computer Aided Design: Freehand drawing and computer-aided draughting (CAD). This ranges from concept drawing, human anatomy to 3D visualisation of plans.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

Applicants under 20 years of age:
NCEA Level 2

Any prospective student (under 20 years of age) who does not meet the above requirements may request an interview and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants over 20 years of age:
A person having reached the age of 20 years by the first day of the programme in the year for which admission is sought is not required to hold the above entry requirements and/or attend an interview. 


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 student applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS (or equivalent including TOEFL) score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5. UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (ie 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

The Diploma in Interior Design available as a full-time programme of study. It comprises 120 credits.

It is recommended that students are able to use a computer and, specifically, a word-processing program for project and assignment work.

Students must be able to recognise and differentiate between colours. The programme is not recommended for anyone who has difficulty with colour perception, ie, any form of colour blindness.  This will affect the ability to successfully complete the programme and/or gain employment in the industry.

Work experience
Twenty hours of work experience is a compulsory part of the Professional Practice paper. 

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a weekly commitment of:
  • 21 hours of lecturer supported learning in class
  • 14 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent working to complete your assignments)
Interior Design has four full days of classes a week – lecturer supported hours. If you choose to do part-time work, we recommend a maximum of 10 hours a week

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
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 or unit standards have already been met.

 Additional Costs

Compulsory course costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the Diploma in Interior Design of up to $880.00 as follows:
  • x3 8GB pen drives - $39.00
  • 4 GB SD card - $20.00
  • 8 GB SD card class 10 - $25.00
  • Equipment bond for using cameras, tripods, tablets etc outside of class time - $80.00
  • Printing - $100.00
  • Mounting boards - up to $80.00
  • 3M spray mount glue or double-sided tape - up to $60.00
  • x2 A4 visual diaries - $30.00
  • Miscellaneous stationery
    • Mars Micro technical pencil 0.5mm - $8.00
    • Mars Micro technical pencil leads HB - $8.00
    • Staedtler Rastoplast Eraser 526B20 (black if possible) - $3.00
    • A pack of Staedtler pigment liners (0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7) - $24.00
    • Helix 30/60 and 45/45 set square pack - $8.60
    • Helix circle template - $6.50
    • Rotring triangular scale ruler (802020) - $31.80
    • 18mm masking tape - $6.95
    • x2 Uniball Eye Fine/Medium (black) - $18.00
    • Paint brush DV 373 size 4 - $24.00
    • Retractable tape measure of 8 metres or longer - $8.00
    • x6 ProMarkers - $60.00
    • Gormack Graph Paper A3 (50 sheets) 2mm - $13.60
    • Pilot pen (Sign plus) - $2.20

Optional course costs

  • Stationery and art supplies - the cost is dependent on what you'd like to use
  • Hard drive - if you'd like a hard drive as a back up, you could get a 1TB hard drive - $85.00
  • A2 portfolio case for carrying works in a safe manner - form $20.00 for a manilla version
  • Field trips - various trips will have optional costs associated with them. They are recommended for expanding your knowledge. For example, once a month the video students will be going to the movies.
  • Ipad Air 2, Wacom tablet or Android tablet for drawing - $180.00 - $1,300.00
  • 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


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.