Study on our high-quality acupuncture courses at the Northern College of Acupuncture


BSc (Hons) and MSc in Acupuncture courses (weekend and weekday) – our next courses begin in October 2017. Eligible students can apply now for a student loan for our BSc in Acupuncture.

Northern College of Acupuncture student Nicola talks about why she decided on the MSc course

Acupuncture student Nicola talks about why she decided on the MSc course

Information about studying on and funding our MSc in Acupuncture course

Studying on our MSc in Acupuncture

NCA has been running Masters courses in acupuncture since 1995 and we are proud of our MSc in Acupuncture and our students’ contribution to the growing evidence base for acupuncture which is essential for our profession.

What’s different about being a masters in acupuncture student  at the NCA?

Acupuncture is a profession and a vocation as well as an academic discipline. Everyone who chooses to study acupuncture with us, whether at BSc or MSc level, will be undertaking a practical, caring professional qualification as well as studying an academic subject. For our students enrolled for the MSc in Acupunture, there’s a further ingredient to this picture: they will also benefit by intellectually engaging with the evidence base throughout their studies.Then, in the dissertation phase of their course that follows the initial three years, students enrolled for an MSc will be contributing to that evidence base themselves by completing a research project. We encourage students to publish their research work and provide support for this in the form of financial bursaries.

The MSc in Acupuncture opens up more opportunities for career progression:  

  • As a future leader in the profession
  • As a confident practitioner with a busy practice who is articulate with patients regarding the evidence base for acupuncture
  • Adding to the discipline as a whole by contributing to much-needed research that gives the profession greater credibility
  • Making a broader contribution through involvement with the professional bodies (regional groups, BAcC, accreditation board), through research, or through involvement in communicating about acupuncture to the public
  • Teaching and leading seminars
  • As an author of books and articles

The distinct identity of our MSc students is important to us, and we aim to establish this from the beginning of the course and keep it active throughout. Differentiation between BSc and MSc students is made in a number of key contexts. The MSc course is designed to incorporate a high level of critical engagement with the evidence base as an essential component of study from the outset.

How we teach you on our MSc in Acupuncture

Northern College of Acupuncture student Michael talks about why he decided on the MSc course and what he is enjoying about the course

Acupuncture student Michael talks about why he decided on the MSc course and what he is enjoying about the course

  • In the classroom

MSc students have an enhanced role in classroom discussions, and will often be asked to lead group-work as well as prepare short items for use in forthcoming teaching sessions.

  • E-learning

Extra e-learning sessions are offered as elective extras for MSc students. These cover topics like statistical analysis, systematic literature review and qualitative research methods in more detail than is possible within shared classroom scheduling, and MSc students can choose to pursue those topics which are likely to be of most use to them in their dissertation phase.

  • Clinic

Of course your clinical training is at the heart of everything you do and everything you learn in class feeds into your time in clinic.

  • Homestudy

Differentiated homestudy material provided as follow-up from teaching sessions helps to reinforce the distinct character of Masters level study that we establish in classroom sessions. We give you a guide of two hours homestudy for every hour here in College or clinic.

  • Assessment

Assessment differs for BSc and MSc students, and guidance is provided in terms of clear assessment criteria for each assessment. These details are clearly presented to students at the beginning of each academic year.

Northern College of Acupuncture MSc graduate Mel Koppelman


MSc graduate Mel Koppelman

“I submitted my MSc thesis “What effect does acupuncture have on cortisol levels?” in August 2012 and the whole process has been completely transformative. Research literacy – that is, knowing how to locate, evaluate and distil the essence of studies – is such a crucial skill for healthcare practitioners of any kind, and particularly for acupuncturists. Completing my MSc has taught me this important set of skills, which not only allows me to confidently address my patients’ needs but has equipped me to continue to update my knowledge as I progress through my career.”

  • Extra tutorials

Dedicated group tutorials are provided for MSc students in a variety of formats including face-to-face sessions at the College and virtual discussions using video conferencing. These tutorials allow MSc students opportunities to take discussion to a higher level, exploring more complex case material and integrating up-to-date research findings into their clinical reasoning. Some tutorials are shared across all three years of the course to facilitate greater cross-pollination of ideas.

  • MSc enhancement day

In response to feedback from previous MSc cohorts, a full day is now set aside in the academic schedule each year for MSc enhancement activities. The day includes contributions from a range of our tutors and graduates, with practical workshops and a keynote speaker from the wider world of acupuncture research as well as input on library and other resources. Topics will vary from year to year in consultation with students.


You are eligible to join the MSc in Acupuncture if you already have a degree (in any subject).
If you do not have an initial degree we will consider your application if you have professional/academic experience that is equivalent to an initial degree. We would encourage you to talk to us in the first instance to discuss your suitability for this route of application.

What happens on the MSc in the first three years?

As a student on our MSc in Acupuncture you will study on the practitioner training course for three years and, upon successful completion, go into practice and start your MSc dissertation. Once you have completed the dissertation stage you graduate with an MSc in Acupuncture from Middlesex University.

You are taught in class in conjunction with the BSc students, however there are additional components where MSc students are taught separately. The expectation is that you will read and research your subjects to a deeper level and be supported to produce a higher standard of work for your assignments.

What is involved in writing an MSc dissertation?

In your fourth and final year you will complete your Masters research dissertation which is a 20,000 word piece of research on a subject of your choice. This is your chance to explore in depth a subject which interests and engages you, and add greater weight to your qualification. While you will mainly work from home you will have the support of your own personal MSc supervisor and support from the whole MSc dissertation team via online sessions and/or support days in College.

Over the years our students have contributed to the acupuncture profession in their many varied research dissertations. Their subjects are wide-ranging and some students have travelled all over the world to conduct their research - even to the outer reaches of Mongolia.



Postgraduate student loans

We regret that postgraduate student loans are not available for this course. The MSc in Acupuncture is a four year course, and loans are not available for courses of this length.


Submitting your dissertation

In addition to the submission of the dissertation, you will also be required to prepare a poster presentation which will provide a synopsis of your findings. We encourage and help you to present your poster at a professional meeting, so that your work may be more widely known. The topic of your dissertation is an area where you will now have additional expertise, on which you can build in your future career as an acupuncturist.

Acupuncture course MSc dissertation information provided by Karen Charlesworth, Research Director at the Northern College of Acupuncture


Research Director Karen Charlesworth

“Once you have started your dissertation, we now have online video-conferencing every other month so that students from all our MSc courses, who are all at various stages of writing their dissertations, can come together and talk about their progress and experiences. By this stage most of our MSc students are in practice and on these calls we give our students moral support, business ideas, and a chance to share the work they are doing (or would like to do) in their research.”

Financial help to fund your dissertation project

We have a specific fund to assist with covering costs of conducting research that you may incur during your dissertation and you can apply to us for this assistance.

Publication of your dissertation

We feel that it is important that all your hard work is now recognised by the results of your study being seen more widely. You may decide that you want to publish your findings in a professional or peer-reviewed journal. Research Director Peggy Welch and her team will help and advise you to publish your thesis. You can also apply to our research fund to help cover the cost of preparation for publication.


On completion of your MSc in Acupuncture, you will have made a special contribution to acupuncture in expanding the current evidence base. Growing the evidence base for acupuncture is essential to the future of our profession. Our MSc students are making an important contribution to ensuring that the public are well informed about the impact of acupuncture. Having achieved an MSc, you will demonstrate to your colleagues, your potential patients and the wider population that you have special expertise in your area of research. You may ultimately wish to deepen your knowledge of this area in your wider practice or consider progressing further to a higher degree (PhD or professional doctorate).