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Course Description
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Perspectives in Complementary and Alternative Medicine 3CMR431
University of Westminster
London, England

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
Natural Sciences 200 English 4 50 N/A

Examining the history, philosophy, practice, diagnostic approaches, clinical governance and regulation of a range of therapies in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Engaging in current debates around CAM – changes in the way CAM is developing, being delivered, and the place of CAM in relation to biomedical and scientific knowledge.
Visits to the Polyclinic dispensary, botanical gardens and homeopathic pharmacy.

To examine a range of CAM therapies, encouraging a questioning approach to distinctive
and shared features, strengths and limitations.
To orientate students to the diversity of CAM practices
To understand some of the issues of integrating CAM practices with other healthcare
To develop students’ skills of communicating through structured and coherent debate


On successful completion of this class students will be able to:
1) recognise different philosophical principles, practices and diagnostic approaches of a
range of complementary therapies
2) evaluate distinctive features and concepts for a range of CAM practices, e.g. holism,
healing, imbalance, energy
3) understand how biomedical and sociological methodologies contribute to the
evidence base for CAM
4) understand the energetic principles associated with a range of CAM therapies
5) design and produce a leaflet, as a group activity, using creative and innovative
thinking, that describes the history, philosophy/principles and practice of a therapy
6) search literature and evaluate different sources of information


Examining context, history, philosophy, practice, diagnostic approaches, clinical governance and regulation of a range of therapies within the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Therapies include chiropractic, acupuncture, homoeopathy, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, osteopathy, Chinese medicine and western herbal medicine.
Exploring the meaning of concepts used in CAM: holism, energy, vibrational medicine,
balance and imbalance, healing and somatisation.
Examining CAM from different perspectives, as scientific, traditional, complementary and
alternative practices.
Exploring contextual understanding of CAM in relation to sociology, biomedicine and
scientific knowledge.
Developing students’ skills of, evaluating different sources and communicating through
structured and coherent debate.
Students will have the opportunity to work in the University’s Polyclinic Dispensary and site visits will take place.


Lectures: 17 hours
Tutorials: 5 hours
Group work: 10 hours
Practical demonstrations: 4 hours

The Leaflet will enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the history,
philosophy and practice of a therapy or therapies in a manner suitable for the general public.
Through this assessment the skills of creative and innovative thinking will be developed and assessed. Students will also gain experience of group working and peer assessment.
Essay will enable students to search and evaluate different sources of literature, to
formulate argument and demonstrate their understanding of the principles and practices of the CAM covered in the class. Students will discuss whether a key concept in CAM is
embodied within the practice of two therapies of choice.


A leaflet 50%
Essay 50%


A Leaflet - (50%) – this is to be produced as a group project. Each student group, using
creative and innovative thinking, will be responsible for designing and producing a leaflet
describing a chosen therapy or therapies. The leaflet must cover two sides of A4 and
include details of the history, philosophy/principles and practice of a therapy or therapies.
The leaflet will be peer and tutor assessed.
The leaflet will be assessed against the following criteria:
· accuracy of information
· appropriateness of information for the general public
· accurate grammar and spelling, and clarity of text
· creative presentation and visually engaging way of conveying information
· ability to work in a group
LOs 1, 2, 5 and 6.
Essay (50%) – Students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of a range of
complementary therapies.
The essay will be assessed against the following criteria:
· knowledge of the philosophy and principles of two CAM therapies
· comparison of practice and diagnostic methods used in two CAM therapies
· ability to distinguish between holistic and reductionist approaches
· ability to determine whether the principles of the CAM therapies are embodied in
the practice of the therapies
· understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach to each CAM
· use of appropriate scientific sources of literature.
LOs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.


Essential Texts
Rankin-Box, D (ed.) (2001). The nurse’s handbook of complementary therapies. 2nd ed.
London: Bailliere Tindall
Recommended Texts
Blackie, M., (1986). Classical homoeopathy. Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers.
Brown, L., (1994). Working in complementary and alternative medicine – a career guide.
London: Kogan Page Ltd.
Buckman, R. and Sabbagh, K., (1994). Magic or medicine? an investigation of healing &
healers. London: Macmillan.
Cant, S., and Sharma, U., (1996). Complementary and alternative medicines: knowledge in practice. London: Free Association Books
Cash, M., (1996). Sport and remedial massage therapy. London: Ebury Press.
Gold, R.M., (1998). Thai massage: a traditional medical technique. London: Churchill
Jamison, J., (2003). Clinical guide to nutrition & dietary supplements in disease management.
Australia: Churchill Livingstone.
Lee-Treweek, G. et al., (2005). Perspectives on complementary and alternative medicine: a
reader. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lee-Treweek, G. et al., (2005). Complementary and alternative medicine: structures and
safeguards. Abingdon: Routledge in association with Open University.
Leggett, D., (1999). Recipes for self-healing. Totnes, England: Meridian Press.
Micozzi, M.S., (2001). Fundamentals of complementary & alternative medicine. 2nd ed.
London: Churchill Livingstone
Mills, S., (1994). The essential book of herbal medicine. London: Viking.
Saks, M., (1992). Alternative medicine in Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press
Shapiro, D., (1994). The bodymind workbook. London:Vega.
Vithoulkas, G., (1986). The science of homoeopathy. London: Thorsons.
Zollman, C. and Vickers, A., (2000). ABC of complementary medicine. London: BMJ Books.
Electronic resources
The Research Council for Complementary Medicine has an extensive list of websites of
professional bodies and organisations and other useful links
Databases and electronic journals: via Infolinx ->Databases by type -> Integrated Health:
Complementary Therapies
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialist Library of the NHS National Library for Health
For further information see: Mac Beckner, M. and Berman, B., (2003). Complementary
therapies on the internet. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

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