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Chinese Herbal Medicine (MSc)

Course Description

The MSc Chinese Herbal Medicine extends your acupuncture practice into the other of the major modalities of Chinese medicine. It is a theoretical and clinical professional entry-training. You will develop your diagnostic and case formulation skills and also learn the materia medica and formulae of Chinese herbal medicine. Phytochemistry and pharmacokinetics are integrated into the understanding of the energetic interactions of herbs. Extensive practice with patients will take place in our on-site teaching clinic where theory is deconstructed and applied. Working in the dispensary with raw herbs will develop your kinaesthetic skills to deepen understanding. The aim is that you learn how to modify classic formulae to create new formulae which address complex patterns of illness.

This course contextualises Chinese medicine within its historical roots, and grounds it in the legal, ethical and inter-professional framework of the UK.

Course content

"The University of Westminster MSc CHM is accredited (approved) by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association which accredits courses on behalf of all EHTPA Professional Associations, including the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. This enables graduates from the MSc CHM to apply for membership of the RCHM. The EHTPA system of accreditation was endorsed by, and included in, the initial Steering Group Report to Government which recommended that a statutory register for herbal medicine practitioners be established"

Core module

• Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinical Practice
In this module you will take developing responsibility for all aspects of patient care. You will be guided in the construction of individual herbal formulae, applying research to ensure each patient is effectively treated. You will develop your case history taking skills, and your understanding of the relevance of tongue and pulse diagnosis to the construction of a complex diagnosis and treatment principle relevant for herbal medicine. You will also explore the various ways that herbal medicine may be applied or dispensed, dosage levels, and cautions and the yellow card protocol. You will complete your research project within this module.

• Chinese Herbal Medicine in the UK
This module will look at issues that concern the practice of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in the UK at present, to include: the legal and political context of CHM in the UK and Europe; pharmacology, pharmacognosy, toxicology, CITES, quality assurance and quality control; inter-professional working; codes of ethics and practice; and research methods and issues. There will be field trips to Bristol Herb Garden, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew and Avicenna (Centre for Chinese Medicine).

• Chinese Herbs and Formulae
This is the first module of the Chinese Herbal Medicine MSc course. Building on your foundation CM skills, you will develop and refine your understanding and articulation of aetiological and pathological processes while you learn the 150 most common herbs and 50 main formulae within treatment categories, patterns and common diseases. You will be introduced to the phytochemistry, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of herbs and be introduces to dispensary preparation.

• Formulae and Strategies
This module involves the exploration and innovation of formulae from the perspective of Chinese Medicine bianbing (disease categories) and explores diseases recognised in the West but not traditionally described in Chinese medicine (eg post-viral syndrome, autoimmune disease, dermatology). You will be expected to evaluate, challenge, modify and develop theory and practice and apply critical enquiry into both traditional and modern theories in the light of new research. This module includes clinical practice.

• Postgraduate Research Methods
This module provides the foundation of knowledge and skills needed to undertake ethical work-based research at Masters level. The process of research and evaluation from study design through data collection and data analysis is covered. A forum is provided for critical debate, enabling you to develop critical reasoning in relation to research design.

• The Classics
This module focuses on the reconceptualising of materia medica at the level assumed in formula construction. You will cover the principles of CM formulae construction from various perspectives, e.g: shang han lun and wen bing, and develop your competence, and a greater appreciation of the roles of individual herbs though critical research, in a collaborative learning environment. You will also be introduced into the clinic, where you will take increasing responsibility for the treatment of patients under supervision and work in the dispensary becoming familiar with materia medica.

Associated careers

This course is designed for acupuncturists who want to extend their practice repertoire to include herbal medicine, or for Chinese herbal medicine practitioners who wish to upgrade their academic skills to Masters level. Individual modules can be taken as consuming professional development (CPD)

Professional recognition

The course is accredited (approved) by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association. This enables graduates to apply for membership of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Chinese Herbal Medicine (MSc) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Simon Becker

"My primary aim for enrolling into the MSc programme at the University of Westminster was Master-level training. Having completed the course, I am highly satisfied with the education and training I received. On the academic side, the program's focus on research method, critical thinking and academic writing ensures Master-level academic training. For me, this academic training is extremely helpful for my work as a writer and teacher of Chinese medicine. Besides the academic training, the program also heavily focuses on developing clinical practice skills. Practicing in the UoW Polyclinic under the guidance of advanced practitioners and dispensing herbs in the clinic's own crude herb pharmacy promote a reflective clinical approach which helps to advance even experienced practitioner's skills in the practice of Chinese herbal medicine. Overall, the MSc-program at the University of Westminster has made me a more critical and better practitioner with a much clearer understanding of research. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student."

(Student Profile)

Alex Jacobs

"I was initially attracted to enrol on the MSc in Chinese Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster from the weight the course seem to place on gaining clinical practice. A significant percentage of contact hours were seeing patients in the student clinic. I was pleased to find that the clinic was well run and had a steady supply of patients. We were also lucky to be the first year that got access to the new raw herb dispensary, an invaluable experience in learning herbal medicine. On the academic side, I was impressed by the level of tuition, particularly being given a thorough introduction to the Shang Han Lun and the Warm Disease school. Additionally, we had modules dedicated to enhancing our academic reasoning and writing ability. The teaching staff for this were specialists from other disciplines within the university which not only made me feel more connected to the wider academic community but also provided a level of expertise which we may not else have received. Overall, I feel I have received an excellent foundation from which to proceed as a fledgling Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner."


Entry Requirements

You must have at least BSc Honours Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture degree or equivalent and associated work experience. Where equivalence is accepted, the length, depth, content and orientation of the syllabus will be considered. You will need the higher education skills needed for postgraduate level study, including evidence of critical thinking, academic writing, IT, reflective practice and communication together with collaborative approaches to learning.

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