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Complementary Therapies - BSc (Hons) 

Course Overview

With 90% overall student satisfaction in the 2013 National Student Survey, no other undergraduate programme in the UK offers students the opportunity to study at degree level and to gain three professional qualifications, at the highest level, in massage (MTI); aromatherapy (IFPA), and reflexology (AoR).

The following pathways of study are available:

Certificate in Complementary Therapies (CertHE)
Diploma in Complementary Therapies (DipHE)
BSc (Hons) Complementary Therapies

Individual professional qualifications (Continuing Education Awards) in holistic massage, aromatherapy and reflexology also available.

Watch a selection of videos where our Complementary Therapies Graduates talk about their time studying with us - Complementary Therapies Graduates

Visit the Complementary Therapies webpages for a virtual tour of the bodywork facilities and information about the code of professional practice and other information.

Course Content

Foundation year (Year 0):

This programme can incorporate a foundation year (year 0) for those students who aspire to enrol onto the first year of a science based honours degree programme or HND within the Cardiff School of Health Sciences, who have not achieved the standard entry requirements, or who have not studied subjects that provide the necessary background within the scientific disciplines required to enter the first year of the chosen honours degree programme.

Students wishing to undertake the foundation year will apply for the degree programme they intend to progress to, using the relevant UCAS code listed on this course page (under Key Facts) and apply for entry point 0 on the UCAS website. As such, students following the foundation route will take an extra year to complete their honours degree.

Further information about the foundation year can be found by clicking here.


The degree programme builds on recommendations by the House of Lords Report (2000), which emphasises the importance of evidence-based training for complementary therapists.

Part time students on this programme will study modules from Levels 4 to 6 over a minimum of five and a maximum of ten years.

Students will learn to combine complementary and conventional approaches to health care. The training provided in the skills of holistic massage, reflexology and clinical aromatherapy is supported by the biological and behavioural sciences and the development of research skills.

As a student on this programme you will also develop your business skills, benefit from a work placement and, as part of a team, run a student clinic.

Year One:
This provides foundation skills and knowledge by developing a range of holistic massage skills and techniques to a professional standard. Reflexology is also introduced in the first year. Biomedical learning in anatomy, physiology and nutrition supports the bodywork therapies. You will familiarise yourself with other types of complementary and alternative therapies and examine the importance of issues such as regulation and evidence-based medicine. Qualitative research methods will be introduced.

Year Two:
You will learn the skills of aromatherapy and complete your training in reflexology both to a professional standard. The biomedical theme will continue by developing your understanding of patho-physiology and mechanisms of disease. You will further develop your communication and listening skills. You will also develop skills in quantitative research methods including the use of statistical software, and learn about the use of audit. The business module will enable you to develop your business skills.

Year Three:
In your final year, you will undertake a work placement in a health or social care setting and participate in the running of a student clinic open to the general public. You will continue to develop your bodywork skills; increase your knowledge of the differential diagnosis of common diseases and examine the influence of psychological and sociological factors on health. Each student undertakes a research project, which makes a major contribution to his or her degree classification.

An integrated approach to health care is emphasised throughout the programme and students will be expected to communicate effectively and therapeutically with clients; understand the importance of communicating with other health care providers; and be able to evaluate which clients need to be referred to other health professionals for further investigation.

For further information, please click here. (Microsoft Word Document).

Learning & Teaching

The programme is delivered via a blend of lectures, practical sessions, tutorials, seminars, workshops and presentations with an emphasis on research informed knowledge wherever possible. Teaching and learning is supported by module handbooks, through the use of Blackboard (VLE), and by constructive feedback from lecturers and tutors. Due to professional body requirements practical bodywork sessions have a maximum of 15 students in each class.

Practical sessions for the bodywork modalities are delivered in newly furbished specialist clinic space fully equipped for bodywork, with massage tables, portable massage chairs, and reflexology reclining chairs. The areas are divided into separate treatment cubicles for clinics which are open to members of the public.

Students are supported in their studies by Year tutors for academic matters and by personal tutors for pastoral concerns. Personal tutorials are formally arranged on a termly basis but personal meetings can also be arranged if and when required throughout the year.

The complementary therapies team is committed to driving up the evidence base, and as part of their third year, all undergraduates will complete a research dissertation. One of our graduates is currently working with the complementary therapies team and Tenovus on a research proposal to investigate the use of reflexology in reducing arm lymphodema after breast cancer surgery. This followed an award of ‘Best Dissertation’ for an undergraduate project, which piloted the design.

The complementary therapies team is also involved with a collaborative project with the University of South Wales on ‘Clinic Evaluation’ – a comparative study building on work already done on the final year therapy clinic here at Cardiff Metropolitan.

In 2012 Cardiff Metropolitan played host to CAMSTRAND, the UK’s premier conference into developing research in complementary and alternative medicine.

The external examiner for the period 2008-2012, summarised the quality of the programme as follows in her final report:

"The entire programme is innovative in the preparation and training of students entering professional practice in a range of complementary therapies. Students graduate from the programme with a high level of clinical skills that enhance employability. Alongside this students receive excellent grounding in research producing some excellent dissertations. CAM researchers are few in numbers and it is encouraging to see that the university will not only continue to graduate highly skilled practitioners but has the ability to encourage graduates into research. I am delighted to hear that the dissertation prize winner from last year has been supported by the programme leader in securing funding to carry out research. The staff enthusiasm and support is to be commended."


Clinical competence is assessed by examination of theory and practical skills and through the use of reflective treatment logs. Knowledge of the biomedical and behavioural sciences is assessed through examination, written assignments and presentations. Research skills are examined through case studies, written reports and a research dissertation.

Employability & Careers

Most of our graduates are working in private practice as self-employed practitioners, who have set up their own businesses, for example:

  • Cinnabar Health (Newport)
  • Hi Therapies (Bournemouth)
  • Therapese (Cardiff)
  • Cotswold Therapies (Gloucestershire)

One of our graduates works as a therapist at Craig Y Parc special school. Several of our graduates have gained therapeutic positions at Velindre Cancer hospital in Cardiff, at the George Thomas Hospice and at the Marie Curie Hospice at Holme Tower, Penarth.

Other graduates have pursued careers in the management of the complementary therapy provision at hospices or in the community, for example, at The Hospice of the Valleys in Ebbw Vale, at George Thomas Hospice in Cardiff, and at the George Eliot hospital and Mary Ann Evans hospice in Nuneaton.


The programme helps to prepare students for employment in a number of ways:

Real-life experiences are provided through work placements and in clinics. Students complete their basic professional training during the first two years of the programme; during this period they develop their skills in the teaching clinics. In their final year, the students are qualified practitioners and take responsibility for running the Complementary Therapies Clinic, which is open to the general, public at a subsidised rate.

Final year students also spend time on work placement. Currently we are working with several organisations in the local community including schools for children with special needs, day centres for adults with disabilities, drug intervention programmes, and palliative care organisations. The student evaluations of their work placements reflect the importance of this experience, and feedback from the host organisations demonstrates how valuable the service users have found this provision.

Students are also prepared for future employment by the business module, which is a part of the programme delivered by the Cardiff School of Management at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Some of our students have continued to receive business advice and support after graduation and return as guest speakers to inform and inspire current students.

The programme also lays a foundation for a career as a researcher. Some of our graduates have acquired the skills and the motivation necessary to continue their education through post-graduate studies in research (e.g. MPhil/PhD).

Entry Requirements

Foundation route:

Applicants should normally have five GCSEs including Mathematics, Science and English Language (or Welsh First Language) plus one of the following:

  • 120 points from at least 2 A-Level qualifications or their equivalent at an appropriate standard for entry into Higher Education at Year 1, but in subject areas which fail to meet the entry requirements for their intended undergraduate degree programme.
  • 120 points from at least 2 A-Level qualifications or their equivalent in subject areas relevant for their intended undergraduate degree programme, but at a standard which fails to meet the entry requirements to Higher Education at Year 1.
  • Prospective students who do not meet the above criteria may be considered on an individual basis and may be called for interview.

For specific information on entry requirements, please refer to the UCAS website.


Applicants wishing to enter the three-year degree without undertaking the foundation course should have five GCSE passes incl. English, Maths and Science plus one of the following:

  • 240 points from at least 2 A Levels / Scottish Advanced Highers to include grades CC, one to be in Biology
  • QCF BTEC Extended Diploma 240 points in Science subject preferably Biological Science
  • 240 points within the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers to include Science preferably Biological Science (C2 minimum grade considered)
  • Pass Access with 45 credits at Level 3 to include 15 Merits in a Biological Science
  • 240 points from the Welsh Baccalaureate to include grades CC at A Level or equivalent within a Science subject preferably a Biological Science, Core considered as 3rd subject
  • Qualifications equivalent to the above

If your qualification isn't listed above, please refer to the UCAS website.

If you do not meet the above entry requirements, the ‘Foundation leading to BSc Health Sciences’ is available one year full-time and will provide you with a relevant qualification that will allow you to progress to this BSc upon successful completion. For further information about the Foundation course, please click here.

Candidates with relevant work experience e.g. in health or social care but without the above qualifications are considered on an individual basis. Evidence of academic study in the past five years is normally required.

Students whose first language is not English must have passed IELTS (or equivalent) with a minimum score of 6.5

Entry onto this course is also subject to a satisfactory disclosure and barring service (DBS) (formerly CRB) check. More details about criminal records procedures can be found at

Selection Procedure:
Selection is usually on the basis of a completed UCAS application and where relevant an interview.

Key Facts

UCAS Code(s):
Certificate in Complementary Therapies (CertHE): B301
Diploma in Complementary Therapies (DipHE): B302
BSc (Hons) Complementary Therapies: B390*

*Foundation students should also use this UCAS code and apply for entry point 0 on the UCAS website.

Place of Study:
Cardiff School of Health Sciences
Llandaff Campus

Course Length: One to four years full-time, depending on route chosen.

Also available part-time.

How to Apply:
Full-time applications for this course should be made online to UCAS at Part-time applications should be made direct to the university at For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at

International Applicants:
Before making an application, international students (those outside of the EU), should contact the International Office at Cardiff Met to discuss the necessary procedures in relation to studying with us. For further information visit

Tuition Fees & Additional Costs:
For up to date information on tuition fees and the financial support that may be available please refer to For additional costs please refer to

Bursaries & Scholarships:
The university also offers a bursary and scholarship scheme to help students whilst at university. To see if you are eligible, visit

Contact Us

For general enquiries please contact the Student Recruitment Team on 029 2041 6044 or email

For course specific enquiries, please contact the programme leader, Julie Duffy:
Tel: 029 2020 5612

Come and see us
If you’d like to find out more, then why not come and see us at one of our undergraduate Open Days. To book a place, click here.

See Also:
Cardiff School of Health Sciences Website

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