About the course

The next BSc course starts on 14 October 2024.

Due to demand for more online teaching, our courses from now on will consist of approx 70% college attendance and 30% online teaching although this may vary depending on the academic year.  For more information contact Jo Brown the Registrar.

The course content brings together two main styles of practice: five element constitutional acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Five element treats the patient’s deepest constitutional imbalance while TCM treats a range of illnesses.  This combination allows you to treat patients with a wide variety of conditions, both chronic and acute.  All our handouts are digital copies.

The course is divided into 6 main programmes throughout the 3 years. Below is an overview of these programmes – a more in depth view of each can be found on ‘The curriculum’ page.

1. Chinese medicine

The Chinese medicine programme covers the underlying theory of Chinese medicine.  The two large frameworks are five element and yin/yang theories.

Five element theory includes the constitutional type and the associations which identify this.  Yin/yang theory includes the substances, the eight principles, the patterns of disharmony, the causes of disease and organ functions.

You will learn other important subjects in this programme.  For example, the meridian system, paediatrics, ear acupuncture, obstetrics and the method of taking common diseases and specifying the likely cause of them from the perspective of Chinese medicine.

2. Conventional medical sciences

Our conventional medical science course helps to connect conventional and Chinese medical diagnosis and was developed especially for the college by GP, Dr Clare Stephenson.

The programme includes surface anatomy, physiology, pathology, clinical skills and pharmacology.

  • Surface anatomy is used to assist you in point location and safe needle insertion
  • Physiology and pathology help you to understand description of a disease and why patients are taking their prescribed medication, enabling you to communicate more effectively with doctors and recognise ‘red flags’
  • The study of clinical skills teaches you how to carry out simple tests, such as taking blood pressure to help measure your patients’ progress
  • Pharmacology covers the effects of medications on your patients, which may have effects on the pulse and tongue and diagnosis and treatment  

3. Point location

In this programme you learn to accurately locate acupuncture points and to develop your palpation skills with sensitivity.  For each point you learn a procedure that will lead you to the correct location. 

4. Professional practice

In the first year you learn theory and practical diagnostic skills.  In the second you make diagnosis using case histories and also your own through interviewing ‘practice’ patients and patients seen in class.  In your clinical year, you treat patients in the teaching clinic under the supervision of experienced practitioners.  By the end of the third year you are ready to set up your own practice.

5. Acupuncture skills and techniques

This programme includes both diagnostic skills and treatment techniques along with medical qigong.

  • Diagnostic skills include pulse taking, tongue diagnosis, questioning, rapport-making and sensory skills
  • Treatment techniques include needling, cupping, tuina, moxibustion and guasha
  • Medical qigong (translated as ‘energy practice’) is taught throughout the first year.  Its purpose is to help practitioners to maintain good health, to be sensitive to their own and others' energy and to be centred for the treatment room

6. Research and reflective practice

This programme supports you to develop the skills you need to help you build a busy practice.   It covers many different areas including observing qualified acupuncturists while they treat to help you to gain a sense of what it is like to be an acupuncturist in daily practice.

You study different research paradigms, including both orthodox research and reflective practice and during the third year clinical programme, complete a dissertation on a subject of your choice.  You also carry out a research audit of your patients' responses to treatment.

As a result, you develop a reflective attitude towards your practice, while at the same time, contribute towards a body of evidence that will measure the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Published research from previous audits found that 93% of patients reported an improvement in their main complaint.  

Throughout the course you will grow and develop personally. Firstly, you apply the Chinese understanding of health and disease to yourself. Secondly, you improve your observation skills, learn to develop good rapport with a wide range of people.


Download our prospectus here

  • "I wanted to become an acupuncturist because I had experienced its amazing benefits…studying acupuncture at CICM was one of the best decisions in my life.”

    Ehsan Salout

  • "I love the teaching at CICM, it is varied, interesting and extremely inspiring and the teachers all have a wealth of experience to draw on.”

    Keeley Farrington

  • “CICM was suggested by an acupuncturist I know and recommended for its high-quality tuition and professional approach. I knew I wanted to explore a degree course and after my open day experience I knew it had to be CICM.”

    Michelle Patrick

  • "I recently joined CICM and there are so many things I love about the place. The teachers are genuinely helpful and want us to do well. The place has a calm, harmonic feel and studying has already had a tangible benefit to my lifestyle and health."

    Erica Chen

  • "I was an electrician before I started studying acupuncture. It might not seem like it but there are overlaps between them, you look at a circuit and work out where the problem is coming from and then rectify it. The difference is with acupuncture I’ll help people to get better!"

    Jack Keeping

  • "Since embarking on this course, I have been astounded every day by the passion that this subject has sparked in me. I realised very quickly that I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I can only describe it as finally finding my place in the universe and becoming part of something much bigger than myself."

    Sally Connelly

  • "I wanted to become an acupuncturist as I prefer to use natural remedies which are in line with my faith and cultural background. I have witnessed the profound effects treatment can have on patients. CICM has an excellent reputation and I love the whole package here, especially the staff and supportive teachers."

    Bev Holder

  • "I appreciated the integrated style of TCM and the five elements as being the most profound way to reach and help people. This was the best possible start to a long acupuncture career that I could possibly wish for."

    Bethan Morgan

  • "My years at CICM will always hold a special place in my mind. It was like entering Hogwarts. The subjects are mind-expanding, the teachers and tutors really passionate and always keen to answer questions and give guidance. It has transformed me as a person and changed the way I see people, emotions, relationships, disease and health."

    Efthymios Fotenios

  • The teachers are really supportive and make every effort to tailor how they teach to suit the different styles of students. I like to question things and look at things from different angles - and the teachers have always supported me by being there to answer things by email after class, recommend further reading, or even being there to support me when I set up a Chinese medicine society for the college.

    Helen Reid

  • The course covers a huge range of topics, angles and perspectives, and whilst so much of it is new, unfamiliar and challenging at times- especially the 'hands on practical aspects- I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing, or anywhere else I’d rather be doing it. CICM is a hub of connection, commitment and energy, and something I am honoured to be part of.

    Ellie Farnfield

  • All of my teachers are practicing therapists with a library of information and experience to reinforce their words and the lectures. I have gained a lot of insight into myself and I often find myself reflecting on what we learned in class and applying it to life. I am recommending the course to everyone I know!

    Jacob Marley

  • As I was in my late forties I was concerned that I was too old, however the Open Day dispelled any doubts that I had as the age range of students and staff spanned from 18 to 80. The beautiful building was a joy to explore and I felt immersed in the world of Chinese Medicine. It was a cocoon of learning in the heart of Reading and only ten minutes’ walk from the train station.

    Samanthan Roderick