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Four interior design students and a lecturer sitting in a modern hotel lobby discussing the

New Zealand Diploma in Interior Design (Residential)

Study in this interior design diploma and get the skills, knowledge and qualification necessary to become a professional residential interior designer.

120 (1.0 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
Full-time for 1 year. Part-time options available.

Programme overview

This residential focused interior design programme will prepare you for a career working as an interior design consultant or design assistant within the residential sector. If you enjoy design, seeing your work come to life and working with people, this programme is for you. This programme is ideal if you’re looking to enter the residential interiors industry or if you’re already working in the field and would like hold the formal qualification. 

This diploma also prepares you for the commercial environment as it is a prerequisite for the New Zealand Diploma in Interior Design (Commercial). This residential focused diploma includes many of the interior design fundamentals that span across both residential and commercial. 

In this programme you’ll be guided from the ground up; exploring design principles, theories and history, right though to application and development of practical business that will get you beyond work ready by the time you complete this programme. See a full list of courses in this programme in the Courses section below.

At Unitec, our approach to interior design learning is highly industry focused. This means that in addition to developing your necessary knowledge and skills in residential interior design, we also integrate you into the interior design industry through practical learning, facilitating industry connections, working on actual client projects, guest speakers from industry, work placement projects and much more.


  • Highly industry integrated and connected
  • Work on actual client projects
  • Practical projects which model current design processes used within industry practice.
  • Internship working with practising designers
  • Off site visits to trade suppliers and manufacturers
  • Guest speakers from industry
  • Focus on “work ready skills” that can be used in practice
  • Knowledgeable and skilled staff. Many of your lecturers are practising professionals at the top in their field
  • Pathways onto the New Zealand Diploma in Interior Design (Commercial) 

Qualification pathway

Once you’ve completed this programme you can go onto to work in the residential interior industry in the careers or similar careers as listed above.

You can also go onto further study for commercial interior design in the New Zealand Diploma in Interior Design (Commercial), for which this programme is a pre-requisite. 

As a Unitec Interior Design student and graduate you can also join the Designers Institute of New Zealand.

Admission requirements

For this programme you need:

1. Be at least 16 years old when you start this programme (unless you have an Early Release Exemption from MOE)

2. At least 48 NCEA credits at Level 2 in your best four subjects

3. A minimum of 10 NCEA credits at Level 1 in mathematics, including measurement and number (excluding statistics); OR

  • A maximum total of 20 in your best four Sixth Form Certificate subjects or equivalent; OR
  • Hold an appropriate qualification at Level 3 or above

4. A minimum of 12 credits at NCEA Level 1 in English.

5. If English is not your first language, you will need one or more of the following:

  • Have achieved NCEA Level 3 and New Zealand University Entrance 
  • Be able to provide evidence you satisfy our criteria for existing English proficiency such as IELTS
  • Have achieved at least one English proficiency outcome in the last two years

6. As part of your application you may be required to:

Don't meet these requirements? We also accept:

Entry by special or discretionary admission.

Special admission:

  • Be 20 years old or above when your programme starts; AND
  • Provide sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a successful outcome in the qualification.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Architectural Communication 1 (CIAR5500) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course gives students the opportunity to develop knowledge associated with the design process and technical drawing conventions, and skills and knowledge associated with analogue/manual drawing and 2D computer-aided design (CAD). Students will be introduced to methods/techniques, tools, and processes needed to communicate, and present architectural solutions to stakeholders.
Architectural Communication 2 (CIAR5501) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course gives students the opportunity to extend the skills and knowledge associated with a range of digital methodologies, techniques, and processes that facilitate development and communication of interior design solutions. Students will have opportunities to become proficient in a range of industry tools and techniques.
Architectural Technology (CIAR5502) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course develops students’ knowledge of the technologies, construction, and manufacturing techniques and processes used in the development of residential buildings.
Design History (CIAR5503) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course provides students the opportunity to learn about the historical developments in Western architecture, art, and design movements, that shaped built environments both internationally and in Aotearoa/New Zealand and enable them to apply this knowledge to their interior design practice.
Design Studio 1 (CIAR5504) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course develops students’ knowledge and understanding of design theory and processes and students’ skills in applying design theories and processes to residential interior design practice.
Design Studio 2 (CIAR5505) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course extends students’ knowledge and understanding of design theory and ergonomics and provides opportunities to apply this knowledge to specialist kitchen and bathroom spaces within residential interior projects.
Materials Technology (CIAR5506) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course introduces students to a range of materials, components, and finishes commonly used in residential interiors and develops their knowledge of the associated sustainability issues. Students apply this knowledge to select and specify products and materials within interior design practice.
Professional Practice (CIAR5507) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course introduces students to knowledge of small business operations, financial planning, and marketing strategies for self-employment in the interior design industry and students have the opportunity to integrate theory into practice in a work-place environment.