Guide to Studying Complementary Medicine

What is Complementary Medicine?

  • Complementary medicine is used as an alternative to, and alongside conventional medical treatment in a belief that it "complements" the treatment. This has not yet been scientifically proven.
  • These alternatives are manifold and wide ranging. From being biologically plausible but not well tested, to being directly contradicted and even harmful, studying it will help you differentiate between fact and mythology.

Why study Complementary Medicine?

  • Despite not always being medically proven, and often being at best scorned and at worst banned, complementary medicine degrees earn you official qualifications, from the British Acupuncture Board.
  • You will develop the skills you need to review and critique the evidence relating to contemporary issues in your relevant field. In seminars, presentations and workshops, you will make professional-standard findings.
  • The careers market is pretty strong. Graduates may continue in private practice or progress to PhD study, or find employment in academia or research.
  • Complementary medicine is not the study of crystals and how drug companies are evil. It gives you a through grounding in how best to prescribe and advise on medicinal alternatives. It's a useful skill.
  • Those who study complementary medicine often leave after three years with much improved confidence and a better ability to sell themselves. They also gain transferable skills, like in IT and report writing.

Coursework, Assessment and Exams

  • Written assignments form the majority of assessed work within modules, including case studies to demonstrate clinical skills. Some are assessed via exams.
  • Depending on the university you go to, students may also prepare oral and poster presentations, either alone or in teams. Tutors also observe clinical practice - so you can't just cram to get full marks.

What degree can I get? 

  • BSc Acupuncture
  • MSc Professional Practice in Clinical Sciences
  • MSc Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • MChiro Chiropractic Medicine

What qualifications do I need?

  • Often experience is preferred to grades, as there is no clear pathway from school to uni in this area.
  • Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you are interested in.

Use our Course Chooser to search through Complementary Medicine courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • There is an exciting range of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level.
  • Examples include MSc Acupuncture, Orthopaedics, Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Paediatrics, Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies, Chinese Medicine, Human Osteoarchaeology, and Non-Medical Prescribing.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • This is a very niche degree, and so has a job market almost all to itself. There is a need for those who have not only alternative educational backgrounds, but also those with creative and scientific skills.
  • Particular job areas include in medical research, teaching, life coaching, management, journalist, spa work, holistic healthcare, and the service industry.
  • Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Complementary Medicine graduates, such as the NHS.