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 - Year Three/Four


"During my MSc I had excellent support in the form of supervision, and continued contact with the College."

In Year Three/Four  of  the Chinese herbal medicine course you will produce a Masters research dissertation of 20,000 words. This is your chance to deeply explore a subject in which you are interested and add greater weight to your qualification. You will also be adding to the discipline as a whole by contributing to the much-needed research that gives the profession greater credibility. Your dissertation takes two years, during which you will mainly work from home, with the support of your supervisor(s). There is also regular video conferencing support, and we hold support days in College each year run by our Research Director Karen Charlesworth. These days provide an opportunity to meet up with the staff and other students and make sure you are on the right track.

What is involved in writing an MSc dissertation?

            Karen Charlesworth (Research director):

Peggy Welch, Research Director at the Northern College of Acupuncture

“Once you have started your dissertation, we have online video-conferencing every other month so that students from all our MSc courses, who are all at various stages of writing their dissertations, can come together and talk about their progress and experiences. By this stage most of our MSc students are in practice and on these calls we give our students moral support, business ideas, and a chance to share the work they are doing (or would like to do) in their research.”

Your dissertation will begin with exploring the subjects that you are interested in and deciding upon your research question. You may already know what this is, but you will need to do some further exploration of the literature in order to understand the topic more fully. If you require help with choosing a topic and formulating a research question, the research staff at the College can suggest suitable areas that may interest you. Previous MSc Chinese Herbal Medicine dissertations include “Observational Study of Parkinson’s Disease Treated with Chinese Herbs and Scalp and Body Acupuncture" and "Evaluating the Chinese Medicine Treatment of Physical Trauma: A Narrative Literature Review” amongst others. Once you have decided on your research question, you will need to develop a protocol which includes describing the research methods that you plan to adopt. You will then present this initial proposal to the College research team. Following their approval, it will then be submitted to our ethics committee for final authorisation. Once gained, you will be able to start on your research project. At the first of the in-College teaching days, you will be assigned your own personal research supervisor(s) who will support and guide you through the research activities and later with writing up your dissertation. You will be “matched” with one or more supervisors with the skills and expertise best suited to your dissertation subject. You will have regular contact with your supervisor(s) via a range of communication methods, including e-mail, telephone or meeting up. Skype is an increasingly popular way to have low cost video and audio contact.

In addition to the submission of the dissertation, you will also be required to prepare a poster presentation which will provide a well-constructed synopsis of your findings. You are encouraged to present your poster at professional meetings, so that your work may be more widely known. Your MSc dissertation is an area where you will now have additional expertise, on which you can build in your future career as a TCM practitioner.

Financial assistance to fund your dissertation project

This is a full and thorough course which will prepare you to practise Chinese herbal medicine confidently and effectively.

We have a specific fund to assist with covering costs of conducting research that you may incur during your dissertation and you can apply to us for this assistance.


It is important that all your hard work is now recognised by disseminating the results of your study more widely. You may decide that you want to publish your findings in a professional or peer-reviewed journal. The NCA have a research fund to which you can apply specifically to assist students with the cost of preparation for such publication.


Once you have completed and passed your dissertation you will be awarded an MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine from Middlesex University. You will have made a special contribution to Chinese herbal medicine in expanding the current evidence base. Having achieved an MSc will demonstrate to your colleagues, your potential patients and the wider population that you have special expertise in your area of publication. You may ultimately wish to focus on this area in your wider practice or consider progressing further to a higher degree (PhD or professional doctorate).




Graduate Anne Marie James:

Anne Marie James, Chinese Herbal Medicine graduate from the Northern College of Acupuncture

"I decided to study herbs to increase my depth of knowledge in Chinese medicine; the workings of the historical art of the medicine. What I enjoyed about the course is how the synergy of the herbs forms a prescription for the patient. During my MSc I had excellent support in the form of supervision, and continued contact with the College. Now I am in practice herbs have given more scope to deal with a broader range of chronic illnesses, a more in depth knowledge of TCM and the patience to wait for improvement in the person’s health. Adding herbs has benefited my practice – I am always busy because acupuncture and herbs can work hand in hand with each other and I have quicker success with my patients. The NCA is visionary in the world of medicine and has always strived to offer a high standard of teaching in herbal medicine, ensuring the practitioner can face the contemporary world confidently with his/her new tools."