Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences>Courses>Complementary Healthcare - BSc (Hons) Degree
BSc (Hons) Complementary Healthcare

Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) - BSc (Hons) Degree


Key Facts

​​​​​Accredited by:
Massage Training Institute (MTI)
International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA)
​Association of Reflexologists (AoR) 

UCAS Codes:
B301: Certificate in Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) (CertHE)

B302: Diploma in Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) (DipHE)

B390: BSc (Hons) Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status)​*

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

Place of Study: 
Llandaff Campus

Cardiff School of Sport & Health Sciences

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

Also available part-time over a minimum of five years. Part-time students study alongside the full-time pathway, following a reduced number of credits each year (typically 60 to 80 credits per year).

Part-time fees:
Charges are per single module unless specified: undergraduate = 10 credits. Please contact the programme leader to discuss further.

Course Overview

N​o other undergraduate programme in the UK offers students the opportunity to study at degree level and gain three professional qualifications, at the highest level, in massage (MTI); clinical aromatherapy (IFPA), and reflexology (AoR).

The Complementary Healthcare degree focuses on the application of therapy skills in the clinical setting, initially via case study clinics in the university’s own Complementary Healthcare Clinic in Years 1 and 2 and culminating in clinical placements in the final year. This clinical experience together with employability and entrepreneurship skills and an understanding of the evidence base will equip you well to follow a rewarding and fulfilling career in the field of complementary healthcare.

Clinical modules are delivered by specialist lecturers who are all experienced practicing therapists, whilst other lecturers from the School of Sport and Health Sciences teach their specialisms in the wide range of supporting academic modules. As evidence based practice is integral to the programme, students employ their research skills within their case studies for each therapeutic discipline.

Whether leaving school or college with a desire to work in a caring profession or a practitioner wishing to enhance and deepen your skills with a strong evidence based focus within a university setting, this programme provides an ideal progression pathway. The programme also attracts individuals who have experienced or witnessed the benefits of complementary healthcare treatments and wish to train to practice themselves - as a supplement to, or complete change in career.

The following pathways of study are available:

Certificate in Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) (CertHE)

Diploma in Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) (DipHE)

BSc (Hons) Complementary Healthcare (with Practitioner Status) 

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

In addition to those applicants leaving school or college with a desire to work in the complementary healthcare sector, the programme also attracts those who are looking for a career change and individuals who wish to upgrade existing therapy qualifications.

Visit the Complementary Healthcare webpages for information on the bodywork facilities and information about the code of professional practice.

Course information on this page relates to September 2018​ entry.​

​Course Content​

Foundation Year (Year 0)

This programme can incorporate a foundation year (Year 0), for those students 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 degree programme.

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.  

You will learn to combine complementary and conventional approaches to health care. The training provided in 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. 

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. 

Year One (CertHE)

A range of holistic massage skills and techniques are developed to professional standard in the first year. Reflexology is also introduced here. Qualitative and quantitative research methods will also be introduced and put into practice in the case studies for holistic massage and reflexology. Biomedical science modules in anatomy, physiology and nutrition support the bodywork therapies. You will examine the importance of issues such as regulation and evidence-based medicine and benefit from the opportunity offered by the Interprofessional Education module to examine client cases alongside students of other healthcare disciplines. 

All modules are Core Modules: 

• Contemporary Collaborative Practice (10 credits)

• Human Anatomy and Physiology (20 credits)

• Introducing Research (10 credits)

• Holistic Massage 1 (20 credits)

• Holistic Massage 2 (20 credits)

• Introductory Human Nutrition (10 credits)

• Communication & Listening (10 credits)

• Clinical Reflexology 1 (20 credits)

Year Two (DipHE)

You will learn the skills of aromatherapy and complete your training in reflexology, both to a professional standard at Level 5. You will continue to develop skills in quantitative research methods including the use of statistical software, and learn about the use of audit. These research skills will be used to evaluate the case studies required for aromatherapy and reflexology. The biomedical theme will continue by developing your understanding of pathophysiology and mechanisms of disease. You will further develop your communication and listening skills whilst the Employability and Entrepreneurship module will help prepare you for running your own business and the world of graduate employment. 

All modules are Core Modules

• Pathophysiology of Disease (20 credits)

• Professional & Clinical Practice (20 credits)

• Clinical Reflexology 2 (20 credits)

• Research Methods (20 credits)

• Clinical Aromatherapy 1 (20 credits)

• Clinical Aromatherapy 2 (20 credits)

Year Three (BSc Hons)

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 contributes substantially to his or her degree classification. 

All modules are Core Modules: 

• Psychosocial Influences on Health (20 credits)

• Research Project (40 credits)

• Work Based Learning 1 (20 credits) 

• Work Based Learning 2 (20 credits)

• Advanced Practice Skills (20 credits)

An integrated approach to health care is emphasised throughout the programme. Students will be expected to communicate effectively and therapeutically with clients and other health care providers and be able to evaluate when referral to other health professionals for further investigation is required.

Learning & Teaching

The programme is delivered via a blend of lectures, practical sessions, clinics, placement, tutorials, seminars, workshops and presentations, with an emphasis on research informed knowledge wherever possible. Teaching and learning is supported by module handbooks, the use of Moodle (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. 

Weekly contact hours are typically between 15 and 20 hours in each of the first 2 years and up to 16 hours in the final year. However students should expect to spend approximately the same amount of time studying independently as they do in lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. There is considerable support for learning at the beginning of the programme, and as students progress into Years 2 & 3 they are expected to acquire the necessary skills and experience to be self-motivated, independent learners.

Practical sessions are delivered in newly furbished specialist clinic space fully equipped for bodywork, with multi-positional electric massage tables and portable massage chairs. The areas are divided into separate treatment cubicles for clinics. Case study clinics operate on Wednesdays for students in Years 1 and 2, and on Tuesday evenings for final year students. All clinics are open to members of the public and university staff and students. 

The clinical modules and supporting range of academic modules are all delivered by well experienced practicing therapists and specialist lecturers. 

Students are supported in their studies by a personal tutor. Personal tutorials are formally arranged on a termly basis but personal meetings can also be arranged if and when required throughout the year. Smaller teaching groups mean that students have excellent levels of support from the teaching team. 

The complementary healthcare team is committed to driving up the evidence base, and as part of their third year, all undergraduates will complete a research dissertation. Following an award of 'Best Dissertation' for an undergraduate project, one of our graduates  worked with the complementary healthcare team and Tenovus on a pilot research project to investigate the use of reflexology in reducing lymphoedema of the arm following breast cancer surgery. The paper was recently published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Our current research is now focusing on the use of Thermal Imaging Technology in an aim to identify the mechanism of action of reflexology with lymphoedema 

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

A recent external examiner's report summarised the quality of the programme as follows: "The programme as a whole is creatively designed to enable student development both professionally and academically. The diverse student cohort makes it conducive to active learning activities. The staffs’ professional and academic experiences provide an exciting mix of expertise which serves to model industry, research and employment expectations. Staff are actively involved with professional bodies. This ensures that programme parameters closely align with industry standards. 

Students are encouraged to develop business and enterprise skills and then implement them in a work environment. This has led many students to self-employment with a positive impact of employing other students as therapists. There is clear evidence to support research informed learning. Students are encouraged to use research to develop arguments, defend hypotheses, and build a culture for clinical practice. The programme assessments connect research mindedness to employability. 


Clinical competence is assessed by examination of theory and practical skills and through the use of reflective treatment logs (case studies). Knowledge of the biomedical and behavioural sciences is assessed through examination, written assignments and presentations. Research skills are assessed through case studies, examinations, written reports and a research dissertation. In the first year in particular, formative exercises and peer-based feedback is used to support development of academic skills. Small teaching groups and tutorials, together with academic support in the library and Moodle, help to prepare students for these assessments and examinations.​

Clear guidelines are given for each assignment, at the start of each module. Students are required to submit work electronically which is then marked electronically with constructive comments and feedback to inform further development of each student’s skills. Clinical sessions allow for immediate verbal feedback and support.

Employability & Careers​

The programme helps to prepares students for employment via a number of channels:

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 developing their skills in the teaching and case study clinics. In their final year, the students are qualified practitioners and take responsibility for running the Complementary Healthcare Clinic, which is open to the general public. 

Our students have massaged athletes during the 2012 warm up for the Olympics and at Welsh Athletics competitions and provided treatments for professional dancers performing at the Welsh Millennium Centre. 


Final year students spend part of the year at a Practice Placement. This valuable and life enhancing opportunity gives students the experience of working with particular groups of clients to whom they would not usually have access in private practice.  The experience consolidates therapeutic skills whilst developing the confidence to work in challenging environments, thereby enhancing employability. 

Feedback from the host organisations demonstrates how valuable service providers and users have found the provision and how high they find the standard of the Cardiff Metropolitan University therapists. 

The venues for placement are based predominantly in the voluntary sector and have been selected to broaden students' experience of client groups whilst also offering complementary therapies to service users who may have limited or no access to such provision. 

Our current placement providers include: Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Metabolic Disorders Clinic, Gofal supporting mental health service users, Derwen housing which provides dedicated housing to older persons and three palliative care settings: Hospice of the Valleys, George Thomas Hospice, and Marie Curie. 

Employability & Entrepreneurship 

Students are not only prepared for future employment as a sole trader but there is also focus on vital employability skills, essential in today’s competitive job market. After graduation students have continued support from the university’s Careers Service and Centre for Entrepreneurship and often return as guest speakers to inform and inspire current students. 


The complementary healthcare team maintains contact with therapists and graduates after they have completed their study, offering current students the opportunity to work with and learn from professionals working in the field. Most of our graduates are working in private practice as self-employed practitioners, who have set up their own businesses, for example: 

  • Cotswold Complementary Therapies (Gloucestershire) 
  • Hi Therapies (Bournemouth) 
  • Holistic House (Cardiff) 
  • The Wellbeing Centre (Pontyclun) 

Other graduates have pursued careers within the NHS or in the management of the complementary therapy provision at hospices or in the community. 

The programme also lays a foundation for a career as a researcher. Several graduates have continued their education through post-graduate studies in research (e.g. Masters/MPhil/PhD).

Entry Requirements​ & How to Apply

Foundation route:

Applicants should normally have five GCSEs including English Language (or Welsh First Language), Mathematics* and Science at grade C or above/ grade 4 or above (for applicants holding newly reformed GCSEs in England) plus one of the following:

  • 56 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.
  • 56 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 or if your qualification isn't listed, please either contact Admissions or refer to the UCAS Course Search. Further information on our entry requirements, including qualifications from the EU can be found by clicking here.


Applicants who wish to undertake this course without the foundation should have five GCSEs including English Language (or Welsh First Language), Mathematics* and Science at grade C or above / grade 4 or above (for applicants holding newly reformed GCSEs in England)​.  An IELTS (or equivalent) score of 6.5 is required where English is not the first language.  

Typical offers may include:

  • 112 points from at least 2 A levels to include grades CC, one to be i​n a Biological Science; Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate considered as a third subject

  • RQF BTEC National Extended Diploma / Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma grade Distinction Merit Merit within a Biological Science​

  • 112 points from at least 2 Scottish Advanced Highers to include grades DD, one to be in a Biological Science

  • 112 points from the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers with 2 x H2 grades, one to be in Biology. Higher Level subjects considered only with a minimum grade H4

  • 112 points from the Access to Higher Education Diploma within a Science subject with sufficient Biology content

  • Cardiff Metropolitan University Foundation leading to BSc Health Sciences programme

 *For Welsh applicants sitting the reformed Mathematics GCSE, we will accept either GCSE Mathematics or Mathematics – Numeracy.       

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 degree upon successful completion with a 50% pass mark and above. For further information about the Foundation course, please click here.

If you are studying combinations of the above or if your qualification isn't listed, please either contact Admissions or refer to the UCAS Course Search. Further information on our entry requirements, including qualifications from the EU can be found by clicking here.

We also welcome applications from students with qualifications equivalent to the above or from those who do not hold formal qualifications but have experience in a relevant area.​ For applicants who are only undertaking 2 A levels or equivalent, this will be considered along with the rest of the academic profile and we may issue a graded offer in lieu of an offer using the UCAS Tariff.

International Applicants
Students whose first language is not English will need to provide evidence of fluency to at least an IELTS 6.5 standard or equivalent. For full details about how to apply and English Language qualifications please visit the International pages on the website.

Selection Procedure and Interview Days:​

Selection is based on the receipt of a UCAS application form and successful interview. Please note, deferred applications for this programme are not considered.

DBS and Occupational Health Checks

All students must undertake appropriate immunisation and health checks prior to entry and a completed Enhanced DBS disclosure is required. We also recommend applicants register with the Update Service, so the DBS disclosure remains up to date for the duration of studies. More information can be found at Further information about occupational health checks can be found by visiting by

How to Apply:​

Full-time route: Applications for this course should be made online to UCAS at For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at

Part-time route: Applications should be made direct to the university at

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) and Credit Transfer into year 2 & 3

If you are interested in transferring credit from another institution to study at Cardiff met for a course which accepts entry for year 2 and/or 3, you can find further information on this and information on how to apply on the RPL page. Please contact Admissions for any queries that you have on RPL.

Contact Us

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

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

Full terms and conditions in relation to accepting an offer to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University can be found by visiting