Study Complementary Medicine – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Complementary medicine refers to a group of therapeutic and diagnostic practices that are used alongside conventional treatments. It includes a range of disciplines such as alternative medicine, beauty therapies, and osteopathy. Here is all you need to know about studying complementary medicine in the top UK universities today. 

complementary medicine

Table of Contents

What is Complementary Medicine?

Complementary medicine refers to a group of therapeutic and diagnostic practices used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. It is also commonly known as integrative or alternative medicine. The primary aim of complementary medicine is to support and enhance conventional medical treatments and address the holistic needs of individuals, including their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Complementary medicine may include various practices, such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, herbal remedies, massage therapy, meditation, yoga, nutritional supplements, and various other non-mainstream approaches to health and wellness. These practices are often used alongside traditional medical treatments to alleviate symptoms, improve overall health, and promote well-being.

How Many People Use Complementary Medicine?

According to a 2023 study, there are approximately 75% of the US population that use complementary and alternative medicines. This makes it an important field of study right?

Why Study Complementary Medicine?

Studying complementary medicine can offer a range of personal and professional benefits, contributing to both individual growth and the advancement of the healthcare field. Here are some reasons why studying complementary medicine can be valuable:

  1. Holistic Approach: Complementary medicine emphasises a holistic approach to health and well-being, considering the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. Studying this field can provide insights into addressing health issues from a comprehensive perspective.
  2. Expanding Treatment Options: Understanding complementary medicine can broaden the range of treatment options available to healthcare professionals, enabling them to offer more diverse and comprehensive care to patients.
  3. Personal Well-being: Learning about complementary medicine can empower individuals to take control of their health and explore alternative methods for managing and preventing illness, fostering a sense of personal well-being and empowerment.

Best Universities for Complementary Medicine in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest Complete University Guide:

RankingUniversity Name
1Swansea University
2University of South Wales
3University of Huddersfield
4University of Southampton
5University College of Osteopathy
6Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
7AECC University College
8Plymouth Marjon University
9University of Plymouth
10Anglia Ruskin University

Entry Requirements for a Complementary Medicine Degree

Entry requirements for a complementary medicine degree in the UK can vary depending on the specific university and programme. However, here are some general guidelines and common requirements that students can expect:

  • Academic Qualifications: Applicants are typically required to have a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification, such as A-levels or their international equivalents.
  • Subject Prerequisites: Some universities may require applicants to have a background in relevant subjects, such as biology, chemistry, or health-related disciplines. This can demonstrate a foundational understanding of scientific principles relevant to the study of complementary medicine.
  • Language Proficiency: For international students, a proof of English language proficiency is often required. This can be demonstrated through standardised tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.

Jobs for Complementary Medicine Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Holistic Health Practitioner: Provide holistic health assessments and therapies, considering the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of clients. Offer personalised treatment plans that may include acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle counselling.
  • Naturopathic Doctor: Use natural and non-invasive therapies to treat and prevent illnesses. Offer personalised treatment plans that may involve herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, homoeopathy, and lifestyle modifications.
  • Massage Therapist: Perform various massage techniques to help relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and promote relaxation and overall well-being. Work in spas, wellness centres, or as independent practitioners.
  • Acupuncturist: Use acupuncture techniques to promote natural healing and improve the body’s functioning. Treat various health conditions such as chronic pain, stress-related disorders, and musculoskeletal issues.
  • Chiropractor: Diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those related to the spine. Use manual manipulation techniques to improve spinal health, alleviate pain, and enhance overall well-being.

Salary for Complementary Medicine Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

High-skilled: £28,000

Topics for Complementary Medicine Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of complementary medicine and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Efficacy of Herbal Medicine in Managing Chronic Diseases: Investigate the effectiveness of specific herbal remedies in the management and treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or autoimmune disorders.
  2. The Impact of Mind-Body Interventions on Stress Reduction: Examine the effects of mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness on stress reduction and overall well-being.
  3. Exploring the Role of Acupuncture in Pain Management: Analyse the efficacy of acupuncture in managing acute and chronic pain conditions, such as lower back pain, migraines, or arthritis.
  4. Comparative Analysis of Traditional Medicine Systems Across Cultures: Compare and contrast various traditional medicine systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Indigenous healing practices, to identify commonalities and differences in their approaches to health and wellness.
  5. Integrative Medicine Approaches for Cancer Patients: Investigate the use of integrative medicine, including complementary therapies, in supporting cancer patients throughout their treatment journey, addressing symptom management, and improving overall quality of life.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Public Health and Epidemiology: Investigate patterns and causes of diseases in specific populations, focusing on preventive measures and health promotion strategies.
  • Healthcare Management and Administration: Analyse the organisational and managerial aspects of healthcare systems, addressing topics such as healthcare policy, resource allocation, and quality improvement initiatives.
  • Mental Health and Psychology: Explore psychological factors influencing mental health and well-being, including topics such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychological interventions, and the impact of social and cultural factors on mental health.
  • Nutrition and Dietetics: Investigate the role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing diseases, examining topics such as dietary interventions, nutritional counselling, and the impact of specific diets on overall well-being.
  • Global Health and Development: Examine health disparities and healthcare challenges in various global contexts, focusing on issues such as infectious diseases, access to healthcare, and the impact of social determinants on health outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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