New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5) - SIT2LRN Distance Learning

Qualification: Diploma
Level: 5

2020 Intake 2: 30 March to 24 July - Applications Close 09 March 2020

2020 Intake 3: 15 June to 09 October - Applications Close 25 May 2020

2020 Intake 4: 03 August to 27 November - Applications Close 13 July 2020


One year full-time

Up to four years part-time

Intakes are 17 weeks long

Location: SIT2LRN Distance Learning
Credits: 120

The aims of the qualification are to:

  • Gain skills and knowledge that are directly relevant to working or further training in the arts/photography sector
  • Provide a base for learners to progress to more advanced studies or employment in photography
  • Produce dedicated, professional practitioners who hold a qualification which is well regarded by employers in the photography sector


NZDP100 Introduction to Digital Photography (15 credits)
This paper provides in introduction to digital camera operation and contemporary photographic practice. Students will explore core principles including; framing, composition, manual controls (exposure, aperture, ISO, and focus) and lighting, as well as introducing modern postproduction workflow tools and techniques.

NZDP101 Introduction to Digital Post Production (15 credits)
This paper introduces students to the use of industry standard software applications (e.g. Adobe Creative Cloud suite) in the creation and manipulation of digital images.

NZDP102 Photographic Design (15 credits)
This paper introduces the fundamentals of design theory and enables students to explore the practical application of design principles across photographic media.

NZDP105 Digital Photography (15 credits)
(Macro lens or adaptor required)
This paper offers students the opportunity to refine their knowledge of digital photography, particularly with regard to the conscious incorporation of photographic tools, utilizing, advanced manual control, lens selection, and concepts such as narrative, and movement to tell the story of the image.

NZDP106 Digital Post Production (15 credits)
This paper explores the use of industry standard software applications (e.g. Adobe Creative Cloud suite) in the correction and manipulation of digital images.

NZDP107 Professional Practice (15 credits)
This paper provides students with the skills and knowledge required to undertake professional photographic work with a focus on small photographic business operation, administration, understanding commercial photography genres (wedding, photojournalism, food, studio, and sports photography), and research of image production ethics, relevant legislation (e.g. Copyright Act, intellectual property) and principles (e.g. Treaty of Waitangi).

NZDP108 Digital Photography Portfolio (15 credits)
This paper provides students with the skills and knowledge to develop a unified portfolio of images that work creatively and within pre-defined boundaries.

Electives - choose one paper from the following                                                       

NZDP103 Auteur Studies (15 credits)
This paper explores seminal figures in the history of photography and provides opportunities for students to develop an understanding of photographic aesthetics and techniques through research and re-creation.

NZDP104 Media and Imagery (15 credits)
This paper dives into the deep history of photographic imagery and aims to increase student awareness and ability to contextualize the images to which they are exposed, and understand the influence on the viewer. Students will investigate and critique existing works and engage in projects to apply this understanding.

The Zero Fees Scheme applies to this course, so there are no tuition fees as long as you are a New Zealand citizen, resident/permanent resident (residing in NZ), BUT there is a student direct material cost per credit of study undertaken, plus a non-refundable administration cost of $50.00 for each application processed, and the required textbook/s listed below. You must maintain satisfactory academic progress to retain your Zero Fees Scheme entitlement.

Zero Fees Scheme - applies to NZ citizens and residents/permanent residents (residing in NZ). 2019 cost (NZ$) $7.00 per credit + admin cost of $50.00 per application (e.g. $700.00 for 100 credit course) - includes GST

International Students - $100.00 per credit 

Payments must be paid by the due date shown on the invoice.

All SIT2LRN courses are approved by Studylink. Any queries regarding Studylink allowances, loans, and terms and conditions should be made directly to Studylink on 0800 88 99 00 or

Graduates of this qualification will be able to work in junior technical or assistant roles in the photographic sector and:

  • Apply problem-solving skills to a range of design challenges within a photographic context
  • Apply conceptual, creative and technical skills in photographic imaging
  • Apply knowledge of image making and use of technologies relevant to a range of photographic applications and genres
  • Create a range of photographic imaging works
  • Analyse and evaluate own photographic work and the work of others
  • Self-manage photographic project briefs within defined guidelines
  • Behave professionally in a photographic work environment 


Applicants for this programme of study should have a keen interest and aptitude in photography, as evidenced by the portfolio required to be submitted for assessment by any applicant new to the programme of study. The portfolio should consist of 5-6 images showing the applicant’s skills in a variety of subjects and genres.

School Leavers
Applicants should be a minimum of 18 years of age, and have attained NCEA Level 3.

Mature Applicants
Applicants over the age of 20 years at time of enrolment will be considered where they can demonstrate the ability to succeed in a programme. Examples of demonstration of ability to succeed are the provision of evidence of successful completion of a programme of study at Level 3 or above in a related discipline and/or employment in the related sector for one or more years. They may be admitted subject to programme regulations approved by the Head of Faculty in consultation with the Programme Manager as appropriate. Personal commitment and a belief in one's own ability to succeed are important personal traits and will always be taken into consideration during the selection process.

English Language Requirements

Applicants, whose first language is not English, or who come from a country where the language of instruction in schools is not English, are required to provide evidence of having achieved one of the following:

NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance, or

an International Baccalaureate Diploma or Cambridge A- level qualification for which the teaching and assessment was conducted in English; or

Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA), or Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL); or

Successful completion of all primary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand primary school years 1 to 8) and at least three years of secondary education (being the equivalent of three years from New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in  either New Zealand, Australia­, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States one of the countries listed in Rule 18.5 where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of at least five years of secondary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in either New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of a Bachelor ‘s Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters’ Degree or Doctoral Degree, the language of instruction of which must be in English and which must be  from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States or

Successful completion of one of the following internationally recognised proficiency tests listed below to the level required of the programme of study and with all scores achieved in a single test during the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment.

Diploma at Level 5

  • IELTS test - Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5
  • TOEFL Paper based test (pBT) - Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE)
  • TOEFL Internet based test (iBT) - Score of 46 (with a writing score of 14)
  • Cambridge English Examination – B2 First or B2 First for schools with a score of 162.  No less than 154 in each skill
  • OET - Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
  • NZCEL - a) Expiring Level   b) Current:
  • Level 4 (General) or (Workplace) b) Level 4 (General) or (Employment)
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE (Academic) score of 42 with no band score lower than 36
  • Language Cert - B2 Communicator IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
  • Trinity ISE - ISE II with no less than merit in any band

Full Time study

Full time study is completing 4 papers (60 credits) per intake.  Students studying full time can complete the Diploma in two intakes.  Full time acceptance into the programme is at the Programme Manager’s discretion. 

Part Time study

The number of papers selected per intake will depend on work, family, and other commitments.  Each paper will require between 8 and 10 hours of study per week. The recommended maximum number of papers per intake, compared to working hours, are:

  • Working 37+ hours per week = enrol in a maximum of 2 Papers per intake
  • Working 20 – 37 hours per week = enrol in a maximum of 3 papers per intake
  • Working fewer than 20 hours per week = full time study (4 papers) is achievable

This is a guide only and will differ depending on individual circumstances.

Approved Transition Plan for Diploma in Digital Photography to NZ Diploma in Photography

Paper in DDP qualification

Equitable Paper in NZDP qualification










No equitable paper


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No equitable paper


No equitable paper


No equitable paper


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No equitable paper


No equitable paper


Equipment Requirements

  • Students entering the New Zealand Diploma in Photography programme are required to have access to a digital SLR or mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera with manual controls for the duration of the course. Point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones are not suitable for this course.
  • Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop (CS5 or later) is required.
  • A tripod
  • Students, with the exception of those receiving course-related costs from StudyLink for equipment purchase, must have the required equipment and software prior to commencing the programme.

All SIT2LRN courses require you to have a computer and internet access. Students are required to use their SIT webmail only for all SIT2LRN communications. All course materials and information, including assessments and due dates, are located on the online Blackboard system. Once you have been accepted into a programme you will receive an Important Information Booklet that includes information that you can use to familiarise yourself with our online Blackboard learning environment. From the intake start date you will have access to the online course materials to work through.

Facilitator Assistance: During the enrolled intake period, students have email access to Facilitators, who endeavour to respond to emails within 48 hours (week days only). All students are required, within the first two weeks of an intake, to send an email to their Facilitator confirming their start on the programme of study. Students who have not emailed their facilitator or embarked upon their course of study by the end of the 2nd week of an intake, will be Faculty Withdrawn from the programme. Such withdrawals may impact on future access to SIT Zero Fees Scheme and Student Direct Material Costs are still liable for payment.

Progress reports are sent out 6-8 weeks after the end of each intake.

We recommend students new to SIT2LRN read through the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website for further study and enrolment information.

Please use the following checklist to ensure that all relevant information and documentation has been included. Remember, your application will be assessed based on the information that you provide us with. Processing of your application will be delayed if we need to come back to you for missing information.

  • I have read all sections of the Programme Information on this page
  • I have read the SIT2LRN Frequently Asked Questions section
  • I have met all admission criteria for the programme (found under Application Criteria)
  • I have met all the criteria for individual papers (found under Course Content).
  • I have selected the paper(s) I wish to study
  • I have selected intake(s) (I have selected alternate intakes rather than overlapping intakes)
  • I know my intended payment method
  • If my organisation/company is paying for my studies, I have a completed and approved purchase order to attach to my online application. I am aware that should my organisation or company not pay my fees, these will become my responsibility.
  • I have completed and attached a cross credit form (If applying for a cross credit)
  • New students - I have provided an active NSN in the name I am enrolling in or I have verified ID and will attach it to my online application.
  • New students - I will attach academic documentation (NZQA record of achievement/academic transcripts/certificates). These do not need to be verified. (If you do not have any academic documentation to support your application, please attach a comprehensive CV outlining your education and work experience).
  • I confirm I have sourced all of the equipment required for my selected papers.
  • I have computer access, an Internet connection and access to software to create electronic documents e.g. Microsoft Word or Open Office

What is the Zero Fees Scheme?

The Zero Fees Scheme means we do not charge tuition fees. However, there is a Student Direct Material Cost that you need to pay and a non-refundable administration fee. The administration fee is for processing your application and the Student Direct Material Cost gives you secure access to Blackboard our online learning environment and to student support services throughout your study with us.

Who qualifies for the Zero Fees Scheme?

  • A New Zealand citizen completing the full qualification or
  • An Australian citizen/New Zealand Resident or Permanent Resident who will be residing in New Zealand for the duration of your enrolment.

Instructions to help you with your application:

  1. Read the Programme Information on this page and the SIT2LRN Frequently Asked Questions and find out if you meet the application criteria for both the programme and the unit/s you wish to study.
  2. Check your eligibility for Zero Fees. If you are not eligible to study under this scheme, please call 0800 748 257 for further options.
  3. Complete your online enrolment checking that:

If you are a new student ...

  • Provide an active NSN number in the name you are enrolling in (contact NZQA on 0800 697 296 to get your NSN number if you do not know it)
  • If you do not have an active NSN, then attach a copy of your verified ID in the name you are enrolling in
  • If you are a Resident or Permanent resident of NZ, please provide a copy of proof of residency;
  • Attach all academic documentation to support your application including copies of any certificates of courses you have undertaken / NZQA record of achievement / transcripts / CV

Attach supporting documents as required and outlined on the previous page.

  1. Please check that you have included all the required information and supporting documents. Your application will be assessed based on the information that you provide.  Missing information will delay the processing of your application.
  2. Please scan and email all additional documentation to

What happens next?

  • You will receive an automatic email confirmation when we receive your online application. Processing may take up to three weeks. However, we will get in touch with you sooner if we require further documentation.
  • Once your application has been accepted you will be sent a conditional offer of acceptance with an invoice and instructions on how to make payment.
  • Once we have received your payment (or if you have opted to pay by Credit Card, Student Loan or Purchase Order) you will be sent an Enrolment Confirmation Letter and Important Information Booklet. Closer to the start of the intake you will receive a Time To Get Started Letter which will give you all the necessary information, tools and guidance to start your study with us.

To satisfactorily complete the New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5), and be awarded this qualification the student must successfully achieve:

  • A minimum of 120 credits in accordance with the Programme schedule for the New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5)
  • The student will normally be expected to complete the New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5) full-time over one year or part-time over four years.

Please Note: Students failing to engage in study as per programme requirements may forfeit Zero Fees entitlement.

For those wishing to pursue further study, SIT offers

Bachelor of Screen Arts (where students can specialise in either animation or digital filmmaking

Assessments for this course typically include essays and practical assessments. There are no external exams for this course.

For more information on required and recommended textbooks for this course please refer to the textbook list here

Please note that textbooks need to be ordered at least 3-4 weeks prior to the commencement of your study