Course Content

An overview of what you are going to learn

Please refer to the table below for more information about our courses.

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Theory

Heaven and Earth Dance PathWe believe our acupuncture course gives students the opportunity to study Chinese Medicine, its philosophies and applications, in the greatest possible depth.

Year 1

During the first year, the Yin/Yang concept and the Five Elements are explored. The general Acupuncture Meridian system is taught and further explored during Point Location classes. An introduction to the Zang/Fu (the organ system) and diagnosis are also studied in the first year. The first year also sees the commencement of Observational Clinics where acupuncture students will have the opportunity to participate in patient treatment by observing an acupuncture practitioner.

Year 2

In the second year, the Zang/Fu, which forms the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) taught in many other Acupuncture Colleges, is covered in more depth. The Meridian system is also revisited and looked at in much greater detail. Further diagnosis and ‘needling’ are taught in theory at this stage. Acupuncture Clinical Observation continues throughout this year. During the second semester, students are ready to learn the theory of Stems and Branches and how the previous semesters’ study is brought together. Additional acupuncture theory is also given in Chinese Pathology. One of the most exciting aspect of this year is that you begin to treat patients in a group practical clinic, with the support and supervision from a licensed acupuncture practitioner. Clinical Observation also continues throughout this year.

Year 3

Throughout the final year, very much a ‘Clinical’ year, you will treat patients on your own, but always with the readily available support of a licensed acupuncture practitioner. There is frequent opportunity to discuss case studies and to explore treatment possibilities. Additionally, in this year you will learn Practice Management offering very valuable information needed when they decide to set up in practice.

The support of the personal and clinical development through the final year internship also prepares you for continuing learning throughout your career as an acupuncturist.

The point(s) of Acupuncture

There are many aspects involved in becoming a successful acupuncture practitioner. However, one of the most important is the practical ability to be able to ‘find’ or ‘locate’ acupuncture points skillfully, accurately and with a great deal of sensitivity.

Although a thorough understanding of the philosophical theory behind acupuncture, together with the numerous diagnostic skills to assess pathologies is essential, it would all come to nothing if, in the final analysis, the points chosen to affect the treatment were not accurately found!  

In our point location course, during the first year you will be given a comprehensive grasp of the anatomical location of a range of key acupuncture points (the most commonly used points in acupuncture practice) using theory and practical skills. You will learn the classical features, categories and actions of these points, and to develop an understanding of the related Chinese Philosophical concepts.

This will take place in a supportive environment where you can learn about and reflect upon the issues of intimacy and respect, as well as learning skills about your own energy management, when working physically with other people.

In the second year you will complete the process of  learning the anatomical locations of all the channel points together with their features and actions in order to create a solid foundation for your future clinical practice.

Your sensory skills will be further developed during the third year when you will be also able  to develop a deeper understanding of the practical applications of acu-points with respect to the underlying energetic framework within the scope of Chinese philosophy. During the third year you will also learn the most commonly used points outside the main channel system.

Onsite Acupuncture Clinic

Our onsite Acupuncture Training Clinic at ICOM also serves as a Teaching Clinic – providing superb opportunities for students to observe experienced acupuncturists at work and to learn, through direct experience, the practice of acupuncture under the close supervision of experienced Registered Acupuncturists, all of our practitioners are graduates of the college and in an excellent position to demonstrate clinically the theory encountered on the course.

The student clinic experience starts from the beginning in the first year observation, this continues throughout the course to enable a gradual accumulation of knowledge and experience in the many varied diagnostic skills involved in Classical Chinese medicine, i.e. pulse taking, tongue diagnosis, body diagnosis, interviewing, listening etc.
As students progresses to the second year, clinical training is reinforced with the experience of Practical Days. On these days a patient is seen within small supportive peer groups and a student is in charge of the treatment (fully supervised), this enables the student to put into practice the diagnostic skills learnt.

The main focus in the third year is the clinical training, it starts with group clinics as in the second year and moves to one to one interactions that are fully supervised. Here each student begins to treat independently, taking sole responsibility for a patient’s treatment under the guidance and direct supervision of a senior clinic acupuncture practitioner. In the last term of the third year the students progress to Trainee Clinics, with full responsibility for a patient whilst at the same time still remaining within the safe environment of the College Acupuncture Clinic. Supervision is still available but solely on request of the trainee student. The Trainee Clinics are supported by Case History Discussion Days – scheduled on the timetable – to discuss the cases seen in more detail. The final year sees the full integration of the preceding years of acupuncture study and practice. This “internship” is an essential part of the whole programme of study and experience offered by the College.

No need for you to find your own patients. Our clinic staff will do it for you.

Personal and Professional Development

Practitioner skill training is built into and developed throughout the acupuncture course. The skills, knowledge and understanding that you learn are enhanced by the training in professional and personal development given through the clinic modules of the course. You will be required to keep a reflective portfolio of your experiences, understanding and learning, enabling you to set and achieve your personal goals and develop the attributes needed to be a caring and competent acupuncture practitioner



Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology

As well as the in-depth study of Classical Chinese medicine, acupuncture students also receive a thorough training in Western Medicine.


In Year 1 you will learn Anatomy and Physiology. Firstly, Anatomy concentrates on topographical anatomy dealing in depth with the musculoskeletal system, providing anatomical landmarks for point location, a practical familiarity with the structure of the human body and a knowledge base for Physiology and Pathology. In addition to the theoretical learning you will do practical work, locating key anatomical structures.

Further along in Year 1 Physiology will teach you an understanding of the structure and function of the major physiological systems from a Western scientific standpoint. The subject begins with the relationship of cellular function to health, continues into cardiovascular, functions of blood, immune system, nervous system, endocrine system, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems and concludes with an exploration of the reproductive systems. In each case the clinical importance of these systems to homeostasis and health is discussed.

In Year 2 the subject of Western Pathology builds on your previous knowledge of cell and tissue structure and function, to see the pathological process as physiological dysfunction and to relate this to disease. The subject explores causes of disease, the pathology of the main systems previously learned in Physiology, with an emphasis on specific common disorders, also the importance of signs, symptoms and differential diagnosis, “red flags” and the sociobiological aspects of health and disease.


As a healthcare professional the Acupuncturist is a lifelong learner. We aim to equip you with the key research skills of enquiry, critical thinking, and clear communication as you travel through the Course, enabling you to apply a range of skills to your clinical practice.



In Years 1 and 2 of our Course we build and develop knowledge, understanding and skills to equip students with the necessary academic tools to be able to undertake the Dissertation in Year 3. As you work towards this, you will learn of your own effective learning strategies, understand the difference between good and poor qualify sources, learn to critically evaluate information, communicate effectively, and gain a good overall understanding of research principles, methods and techniques. In Year 2 you will choose an appropriate topic for your Dissertation and start to prepare for it.

The challenges of applying western style research techniques to the world of acupuncture and Chinese medicine are explored, as is the range of both qualitative and quantitative study. These skills are developed in class using example, demonstration and practice, and through independent study.


Building on the first two years of research skills knowledge, in Year 3 you will carry out a Dissertation, a critical literature review on a topic of your choice. This allows students to deepen their understanding of Chinese philosophy and link this clearly to clinical practice. Your lectures include more time for individual attention in order to progress your Dissertation. In addition students are allocated personal Dissertation Supervisors who support and guide through the process.

We believe that preparing and encouraging students to carry out effective research means that as qualified Acupuncture practitioners they are equipped to contribute to the research base and development of the profession.