The course is arranged into the units that set out below, however there is overlap between them in order to make a cohesive programme. The curriculum is designed in a ‘spiral’ fashion, meaning that certain topics are presented initially in simple terms which are grounded in students’ experiences so far and then re-visited later on in a wider clinical context. Theoretical topics will be linked to practice undertaken in class time through demonstration as well as practical examples and clinical work with patients.
This unit is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in the fundamental concepts of Oriental medicine (five element, eight principles, yin and yang), as well as the theory behind all clinical and diagnostic techniques. Focused on the theories of five element acupuncture and eight principle diagnosis, which together form the basis of all TCM practice – this unit is taught in such a manner as to make the question of ‘should I study TCM, Five Element or Integrated‘ irrelevant because our focus on understanding all of the classical texts and theories, and the study methods that we use, mean that our students DO come away with a well-grounded understanding of TCM, as well as the more person-centred Five Element style. Most importantly, they are absolutely able to integrate these theories, as well as a range of adjunctive techniques, to appropriately treat any patient who walks through the clinic door!
For those of you who are reading this page without prior knowledge of the different styles of acupuncture, more information can be found in our FAQs.
Acupuncture theory is taught in depth over the first two years with a further level of understanding linking it to practice attained during 2nd year level. It provides a theoretical grounding that supports the development of Clinical and Point Location skills, and is fully brought to life in Professional Clinical Practice in year three.
Acupuncture theory will be taught using:
Students will also be taken on guided ‘field trips’ where their understanding of theory is brought to life through experiential learning in the environment.
The Clinical and Diagnostic Skills unit is designed to enable you to progress from a basic competency to clinical level proficiency in all practical areas. Theory of clinical and diagnostic skills will be covered in e-lessons and reviewed here in order to place it in context. The focus will be on your ability to perform these clinical skills, with the teaching aimed at facilitating confidence as well as competence within student-practitioners.
The unit is designed to empower you to progress from a basic competency to confidence and clinical level proficiency in all practical areas. The emphasis in diagnostic skills is developing your ability to observe Colour, Sound, Odour and Emotion, and pulse taking. Needling and moxibustion are the core clinical skills emphasised. In addition, your ability to create and sustain therapeutic rapport with patients is fostered throughout, linked to the Professional Clinical Practice unit.
You will also attend four days of tui na palpatory skills across years one and two, which will aid channel diagnosis and introduce some simple treatment techniques. In year 3, further adjunctive skills will be covered including cupping and auricular acupuncture.
The Anatomy, Channels and Points unit is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in the language and terminology of surface anatomy relevant to acupuncture practice, as well as the functions of relevant anatomical structures and their interplay with the geography of the jingluo and acupoints. You will be taught to locate the acupoints of the twelve main channels, the extraordinary vessels Ren and Du mai, as well as selected extra and Ah Shi points, drawing on anatomy knowledge and palpatory skills. Attention will also be paid to patient-handling skills with respect to identifying points sensitively and accurately.
This unit is taught over all three years, aiming towards the third year where you will treat patients for the first time, moving from reflective student practitioner to reflective professional engaged in ongoing Continued Professional Development (CPD). The unit draws together all other units in the context of professional practice, as well as looking at broader aspects of working as a health professional. It encompasses both theory and practice, and is designed to help you to become an autonomous healthcare practitioner able to demonstrate proficient performance in complex clinical situations by the integration of knowledge, skills and reflective practice. However, knowledge of correct conduct and professional codes is not sufficient; your growth as a reflective practitioner is fostered and facilitated from day one (in this way, the unit links especially closely with the Research unit).
From the beginning of the third year you will be treating patients under supervision, moving towards increasing independence until you are granted ‘pre-qualifying’ status (which would be after approximately 6 months). In this last six months of the unit you will build up your practice under indirect supervision, and have the opportunity to take part in placement opportunities to broaden your experience. Further class sessions will cover extra information and skills that you will need when working with ‘specialist’ areas and vulnerable groups, such as mental health, obstetrics, gynaecology and fertility, the elderly, children and in palliative care.
In this unit, you will develop a sound basic understanding of the structure and function of the physiological systems of the body, basic psychology, pharmacology, and potential disorders and their tests and treatments. This will enable you to practice acupuncture safely, both in terms of needling/palpation, and the accurate assessment of patients, recognizing those signs that indicate either urgent or recommended referral for Western medical tests or treatment.
The unit is taught online over the first two years of the course, based around the core text-book which we provide as part of your fees, and an important feature is that you will compare and contrast the conventional medical view with the Chinese medicine perspective throughout. Material will be reviewed and placed into context during class sessions. In the third year, and on into practice, the theory will be brought to life as you discuss your patients’ conventional diagnoses, tests and medications, and communicate with referring GPs and other health professionals.
As health professionals, an understanding of research enquiry and a commitment to critical thinking and reflective practice is central to our work. You will explore research methods, perspectives and approaches, and be introduced to critical thinking and reflective practice theory. To put this into practice, you will be encouraged (in all units) to challenge your values, assumptions and attitudes. This approach will be transferable to your learning and assessments for the rest of the course, and on into professional life. In this way, the unit links strongly with the Professional Clinical Practice unit. The focus remains on acupuncture research throughout, maintaining relevance and interest. You will learn to be able to critically evaluate clinical research, so that you can decide whether and how it informs practice, and discuss questions that patients and colleagues may have.
In the first year, you will work on a project for your portfolio collecting and analysing data to explore the essentials of acupuncture theory as it relates to the seasons, as well as carrying out an assignment in which you will ‘respond’ to a critical article about acupuncture. In the second year, you will work in pairs to produce an evidence-based talk aimed at an (imaginary) audience of your choice, which can be used as a valuable tool to promote practice. Your independent study in the third year will provide an opportunity to carry out a formal evaluation of your clinical practice, or write up an in depth case study about one or more of your patients, in a journal style format.