1988 - 2018: 30 years of the Northern College of Acupuncture - celebrating 30 years of excellence.

1988 - 2018: 30 years of the NCA - celebrating 30 years of excellence!


The Northern College of Acupuncture was founded in 1988 by Professor Hugh MacPherson and Nicholas Haines, when we offered our first acupuncture course. We added courses in Chinese herbal medicine in 1994, Nutrition in 2008 and Online masters courses for practitioners in 2014. The College became a registered charity in 2000 and we see our educational work as being both challenging and inspiring. The challenge comes from learning new ways of seeing and understanding. The inspiration comes from the insights, knowledge and skills that come with fresh perspectives.

The Northern College of Acupuncture, located on Micklegate in York city centre, offers quality courses in acupuncture, nutrition, Chinese herbal medicine as well as online courses for practitioners.

We currently teach the following courses:

NCA – a pioneering independent College

We have a strong track record of developing and running courses leading to both professional and academic qualifications, and we have always been pioneers in the field:

  • We were the first teaching institution of any kind in the UK to offer a University degree in acupuncture (our MSc in Acupuncture with the University of Wales, in 1995)
  • The first to offer a postgraduate degree in Chinese herbal medicine (MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine with the University of Wales, in 2004)
  • The first to achieve professional accreditation for our acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and nutritional therapy courses (in 1996, 2003 and 2010 respectively)
  • 2014 saw the introduction of our online-only Masters courses for practitioners

National and international recognition

Our online MSc courses for practitioners  welcome students from all across the globe.

Over the years, the College has come to be recognised nationally and internationally in the subjects we teach. We recruit up to 40 students every year to our acupuncture course and up to 25 students every year to our nutritional therapy course. Our acupuncture and nutrition course students are drawn from a wide geographical area, mostly from between the north Midlands and the south of Scotland. Our Chinese herbal medicine courses draw qualified acupuncturists from an even wider geographical area including the EU, and our online only Masters courses are attracting practitioners from all over the world.


Our acupuncture course is accredited by the British Acupuncture Board (BAAB), our MSc in Nutrition Science and Practice course is accredited by the Nutritional Therapy Education Commission (NTEC) and our MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine course is accredited by the European Herbal & Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA). Having successfully undertaken the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) “Review for Specific Course Designation” four years ago, we have recently undergone their “Higher Education Review” and have received our final report. The QAA is the independent body which quality assures all UK Universities.

The College is also currently developing a new partnership with London South Bank University with the intention of the University validating our degree programmes for intakes from September 2018. Validation will mean that students receive their degree from London South Bank University on successful completion of their course.

Management and Governance

The day-to-day running of the College is overseen by our Principal, Richard Blackwell, backed up by members of the management team and all the staff. As a registered educational charity the College is governed by a Board of Trustees, a voluntary group of people from a variety of backgrounds and expertise who provide knowledge and experience to help steer the College – including our co-founders Nicholas Haines and Hugh MacPherson.

Teaching excellence

All of our educational programmes are designed to meet high standards of excellence. They have a focus not just on acquiring knowledge and understanding, and learning techniques of practice, but also on the development of the practitioner. Our aim is to help our students to become balanced and well-rounded practitioners as well as educating them to a high academic level. At the NCA we recognise that professional practice has the complexity and diversity of a rich tapestry. Our programmes follow a structured approach to theory and practice but at the same time we are eclectic in our approaches to diagnosis and treatment and our tutors are all practitioners with wide ranging backgrounds in their own training. This enables our students to construct a wide-ranging personal repertoire from which they can draw creatively and flexibly to best meet their patients’ or clients’ need. These days, all of our courses have some element of e-learning, and our online MSc programmes are taught entirely over the internet. Our robust online teaching platform “e-learn with nca” delivers high quality and interactive e-learning material to our students in the UK and abroad.

The Northern College of Acupuncture regularly welcomes a diverse group of students that love studying with us.

Clinical practice at the heart of our College based programmes

Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and nutrition are fields of knowledge where theory and practice remain closely linked. We therefore put considerable emphasis on the importance of clinical experience and early exposure to clinical practice is a key feature of our “in College” taught courses. We have a thriving and well respected teaching clinic and herbs dispensary at the College, which is open every week of the year and serves our local communities offering acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutrition consultations. This provides a great clinical learning environment for our students at the heart of the College.

Research focussed

The College has a strong focus on promoting research activity. As well as our MSc programmes, in 1990 we also established our research wing the Foundation for Research into Traditional Chinese Medicine (FRTCM), having foreseen the need to carry out robust research into the value of these therapies. The Foundation was originally established as a separate charity and later incorporated into the College (in 2011). We run outcomes research in our teaching clinics and collaborate on larger clinical research studies with regional Universities.

Looking towards the next 30 years

We are proud of all our achievements over the past 30 years and we are very much looking forward to our next 30 and beyond! Plans include developing courses for emerging markets in the subject areas where we have specialist expertise, and strengthening our role as a proudly independent College. Whatever we do in future, you can be sure that our students will be at the heart of it!