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 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 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 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 2017​ entry.

​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 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 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 (CertHE):

A range of holistic massage skills and techniques are developed to professional standard in year one​. Reflexology is also introduced in the first year. Biomedical science modules in anatomy, physiology and nutrition support the bodywork therapies. You will familiarise yourself with other types of complementary and alternative healthcare and examine the importance of issues such as regulation and evidence-based medicine. Interprofessional education offers the opportunity to examine client cases alongside students of other healthcare disciplines. Qualitative and quantitative research methods will also be introduced and put into practise in the case studies for holistic massage and reflexology.

All modules are Core Modules:

  • Contemporary Issues in Complementary Healthcare

  • Contemporary Collaborative Practice

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology/Introducing Research

  • Holistic Massage 1

  • Holistic Massage 2

  • Introductory Human Nutrition

  • Reflexology 1

Year Two (DipHE):

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 pathophysiology 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. These research skills will be used to evaluate the case studies required for aromatherapy and reflexology. The Employability and Entrepreneurship module will help prepare you for running your own business and the world of employment.

All modules are Core Modules:

  • Pathophysiology of Disease
  • Employability & Entrepreneurship​
  • Reflexology 2
  • Research Methods
  • Clinical Aromatherapy 1
  • Clinical Aromatherapy 2
  • Communication and Listening Skills

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 makes a major contribution to his or her degree classification.

All modules are Core Modules:

  • Biopsychosocial Influences on Health
  • Research Project
  • Practical Placement
  • Student Clinic
  • Advanced Practice Skills

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.

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, through 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.

Students on this programme should expect to spend approximately the same amount of time studying independently as they do in lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. Whilst there is considerable support for learning at the beginning of the programme, as students progress into levels 5 & 6 they are expected to acquire the skills and experience to be self-motivated, independent learners.

Practical sessions for the bodywork modalities are delivered in newly furbished specialist clinic space fully equipped for bodywork, with electric massage tables, portable massage chairs, and reflexology reclining 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..

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 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.

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 final reportsummarised the quality of the programme as follows:​

"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 (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.

Small teaching groups and tutorials together with academic support in the library and the virtual learning environment, Moodle, help to prepare students for these assessments and examinations.​

Employability & Careers​

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 work placement experience has the effect of consolidating therapeutic skills whilst developing the confidence to work in challenging environments, and ultimately enhancing employability.

The venues for this 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. Student evaluations of this module reflect how valuable an experience it is, 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.

Our current placement providers include: Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Metabolic Disorders Clinic, Craig Y Parc School - for children with special needs, Gofal - for mental health service users, Hospice of the Valleys, George Thomas Hospice, and Marie Curie Penarth - palliative care organisations,  Interserve Working Futures- supporting the long term unemployed back to work and Derwen housing –  providing dedicated housing to older persons.


The complementary healthcare team maintains contact with therapists and graduates after they have completed their programmes of study, offering current students the opportunity to work with and learn from professionals working in the field.

Our therapists and graduates have been called upon to massage athletes at Welsh Athletics competitions and even massaged top athletes during the 2012 warm up for the Olympics. They have also provided massage for professional dancers performing at the Welsh Millennium Centre.
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)
  • Cotswold Therapies (Gloucestershire)
  • Hi Therapies (Bournemouth)
  • Holistic House (Cardiff)
  • Therapease (Cardiff)

Other graduates have pursued careers in the management of the complementary therapy provision at hospices or in the community.  Some of our graduates have gone on to further study at Masters level, or become involved in research, whilst others have gone on to employment within the NHS.

The programme helps to prepares 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 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 at a subsidised rate.
  • Final year students also spend time on work placement. 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, 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. Masters/MPhil/PhD).

Entry Requirements​ & How to Apply

Please note: The following entry requirements relate to September 2017 entry and use the new UCAS tariff.  Please refer to our Entry Requirements for further information on the new tariff, or contact Admissions if you have any questions.

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, plus 112 points from at least 2 A levels (or equivalent).  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

  • QCF BTEC Extended Diploma 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 3 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:
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

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.

Interview Days to be announced in due course.

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 and covers placements, if undertaken. More information about criminal records procedures 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 shouldbe made direct to the university at

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

Clearing Course Vacancies for 2017. Call 0300 330 0755 to Secure Your Place.