Study on our high-quality Chinese herbal medicine courses at the Northern College of Acupuncture


*MSc in  Chinese Herbal Medicine - our next course starts in September 2019. For students looking to start with us we would encourage you to book a place on our introductory event on Saturday 16th February

MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine – overview

Our MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine


"An absolutely fascinating, well-taught and well supported course. The teaching has been at a very high standard and I feel privileged to have been taught by such knowledgeable and experienced tutors"

Our Chinese herbal medicine course is designed to make the study of Chinese herbal medicine truly interesting and engaging. It is an integrated course where from day one you will learn key herbs, simple formulae containing them, and some of the diseases they treat. By studying the herbs, formulae and diseases together you learn to "speak the language" and make clinical sense right from the start. The course also integrates study of plant science and herbal research into your study of herbs and formulae, giving these subjects a clear clinical relevance. Classroom lectures are interleaved with group exercises, work on real case studies, and discussions on various aspects of herbal medicine. This infuses the theory with real life clinical application, illustrating the practical use of herbs and the integration of herbal treatment into acupuncture practice.

Our teaching clinic

            Phil Trubshaw (Herbs student):

Chinese herbal medicine student Phil Trubshaw talks about why decided to study Chinese herbs

“I decided to study herbs because I wanted to expand my skills base as a practitioner. Also for a long time I have had interest in the healing properties of plants and decided it was time to pursue this further. I chose NCA after having a great chat with Richard Blackwell at the conference a couple of years ago. The College had been recommended by tutors, colleagues and friends when I was studying acupuncture so it was a no brainer really. Clinical practice is amazing, seeing the benefits patients get from taking herbs but also because of the opportunity to explore a deeper understanding of patterns. The taught aspect is really good also with a wide knowledge base including pharmacognosy, research, nutrition and all the herb and formula knowledge. We're also really privileged to have great clinical supervisors and lecturers. I feel that my understanding of Chinese medicine and acupuncture has both broadened and deepened, enhancing my diagnostic capabilities and ability treat patients. I would recommend the course because learning about herbs is fascinating and I already feel my practice has improved just after completing first year ”

Close integration between classroom and clinic is build into the curriculum. From Year One you will be experiencing the realities of herbal practice, hands-on in our teaching clinic which serves the local community. A wide spectrum of patients and conditions are treated using loose herbs, powders and encapsulated formulae. You will treat about six patients per day, providing a range of clinical experience, and keeping time for case discussion. You will work under the supervision of herbs clinic supervisor Cheng Hao Zhou  and Course Director Eileen Gibbon. During your two years our aim is for you to build a thorough understanding of the practicalities of Chinese herbal medicine diagnosis and dispensing enabling you to go into practice with confidence and finesse. .

The course structure and progression

This is a part-time course with weekend classes, held between September and June over two years for the taught part of the course and consists of 20 weekends of teaching plus 29 days of clinical practice. Students then progress to conducting their own research and completing the MSc. A new course begins every other year with the next course starting in 2017. All non-clinical teaching takes place on weekends from late September to early July, with a short break over Christmas and Easter and a long break over the summer. All clinical teaching takes place on weekdays in the College clinic (Mondays in the first year and Mondays and Tuesdays thereafter). Clinic days are scheduled well in advance and student preferences are taken into account. On successful completion of these two years you are eligible to apply for membership of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and able to go into practice as a herbalist. Should you choose to cease your studies at this stage you will exit with the Postgraduate Diploma in Chinese Herbal Medicine. However, we encourage you to continue into a third and fourth year. During this stage there is help and support as you conduct and write up your research, but the main focus is your autonomous work on your chosen research project.There are two teaching days early on to help you get started and a variety of other activities take place throughout the year which include forums, conference calls, special workshops as necessary and some e-learning.


First Year 10 weekends
Second Year 10 weekends
Third Year Classroom sessions: Four days
Herbs and Formulae Managing Diseases and Conditions

Autonomous research and writing of dissertation, with support from personal supervisor

(continues into fourth year)

Chinese Herbal Medicine in Context
Clinic 1 (9 weekdays in clinic) Clinic 2 (20 weekdays in clinic)





Part of your course is delivered by e-learning - a series of lectures and demonstrations that you access at home via your computer. These sessions are lively and interactive - don’t worry if you have not accessed this kind of learning before, you will receive all the support and help you need to use our online resources confidently. Some sessions have a specific 'live' period of one to two weeks, during which you can complete the session at home, at a time that suits you. The tutor will be online periodically during ‘live’ periods to provide feedback and answer questions. Once 'live' periods end, sessions remain available to watch, for revision purposes, throughout the duration of the course.  Students are required to have access to a computer and this needs to be compatible with the NCA e-learning programme which can be accessed on a PC (Windows 7, 8,10 ), on a Mac (System 10.6 or later) or on an iPad (1, 2 or 3); although please note that not all areas of e-learning sessions may be completed on an iPad. Please see the Minimum Specification document for further details.





Our Chinese herbal medicine course is validated by Middlesex University and is designed to make the study of Chinese herbal medicine truly interesting and engaging.

Home study

Home study supports the formal teaching given at weekends and in the teaching clinic. There is a requirement for a substantial amount of home study, as befits a course taught at Masters level Chinese herbal medicine course and leading to a professional qualification. The exact amount necessary will vary between individuals, but we recommend three hours of home study to each hour spent in College and one hour to every hour spent in clinic.


Assessment on our course encourages and supports your learning, and ensures that you reach the academic and professional standards required. Assessments include short tests, written assignments, case studies, reflective work, and exams. Exams are either ‘seen’, so you can work on your responses in advance, or ‘open book’ in style.  This approach closely replicates practice, so develops a way of working that will be useful to you in the future.  Students have told us that this is a good way to learn, as well as being less stressful than traditional exams. The assessment of clinical work includes an assessment of your ability to design a suitable treatment strategy and prescribe appropriately; your competence in a range of dispensing techniques; and your overall management of your patients’ care.



Izzy Cherry, Chinese Herbal Medicine courses at the Northern College of AcupunctureIzzy Cherry (Herbs Graduate):

"I decided to add Chinese herbal medicine to my practice as I felt there were certain conditions I was not satisfied with the results given by acupuncture alone- Dermatology was the main area. I chose NCA as it had a good reputation for giving a thorough baseline training without skipping too much by making it a 1 year course. Two years is really the minimum time needed. The best part for me was reviewing and expanding my TCM knowledge, diagnostics and then having a whole new toolkit of herbs to work from, using this in the supervised clinic was very exciting! Since graduation herbs has become a large part of my practice and I have now joined a wonderful CHM centre (Avicenna) full time, seeing a much wider range of conditions that I would have previously referred. I have gone on to have intensive mentoring with Mazin Al-Khafaji including undertaking his PgDip in Dermatology and Chinese Medicine. My practice has now become fully integrated with herbal medicine, my skill set has grown, and my turnover of patients has quickened as I am able to treat them with more efficiency and discharge them! I am delighted to have fallen in love with herbs and am excited about gaining more experience with them over the years, but I am pleased that I chose NCA."