Five Element Acupuncture Diploma

A new way to study acupuncture.

Join our one of a kind rolling study programme. Start any time and become an acupuncturist in 12 months.

Accredited by the Acupuncture Society
CMA Registered College

Your Tutors

Your acupuncture course tutors have 56 combined years of professional acupuncture experience. They have developed, designed and still deliver a range of online courses to students worldwide. Michael and Paul have both taught acupuncture in India, and Paul has taught in Japan. Michael studied under the eminent Professor J. R. Worsley, the founder of the College of Traditional Acupuncture (CTA) Leamington Spa.

MICHAEL BAKER Post Grad Dip (HPE) BAc. MFHT Dip in Life Coaching 2ND DAN


See Team


Michael Baker and Paul Adkins

What you’ll learn

  • Practical needling skills: guidelines, techniques and clinical application.

  • Anatomy studies: energetic geography, cun measurements and point location.

  • Clinical skills: moxibustion, blood pressure taking, three jiao and tongue diagnosis.

  • Five Element theory: the C.F.; colour, sound, odour and emotion, meridians and officials.

  • Pulse taking: the 28 qualities and how to feel them, deep and superficial pressure etc.

  • Case studies: how to carry out a traditional diagnosis and follow-up treatment planning.

  • Rapport: non-verbal communication, reflection, silence and mixed metaphors.

  • Energy blocks: establishing and identifying the points involved in treatment protocols.

Course Structure

Online Studies

12 Monthly Modules

The ICA training portal is where you complete each of the 12 acupuncture training modules.

Featuring practical video lessons (filmed in 4K), video presentations on acupuncture theory, course documents, online tests and five written assignments across the year.

Your assigned tutor is available for regular tutorials and a group Zoom class runs once a month for Q&As and alternating topics.

You will need to allow 7 – 10 hours a week for online study, assignments, pulse taking, needling practise into pads, and creation of an online seasons diary.

I’ve been very impressed with the course in general, but in particular with the e-learning platform, which is far superior to what was provided at university a few years ago!

Richard Jago

The tuition from Michael and Paul is exceptional; the course content is in-depth and set in a friendly and encouraging learning environment. The online learning platform for all the supporting learning material is remarkable and a real credit to the course, it also offers a network platform so you can keep in touch with both tutors and fellow students.

Kelly Richards

Practical Training

100 Hours

Our acupuncture workshops run every three months in Truro, Cornwall or Wantage, Oxfordshire. You choose which venue to attend each quarter.

They're scheduled on Fridays 9 am - 6.30 pm, Saturdays 9 am - 6.30 pm and Sundays 9 am - 6 pm. Jump in on the nearest workshop to your start date. You must complete all four workshops as part of your training.

Marking Acupuncture Points
Michael Baker Practical Workshop
Acupuncture Students Presenting Work

2024/2025 Dates

March Workshop

Cornwall: Completed

Oxfordshire: Completed

June Workshop

Cornwall: 7th, 8th, 9th

Oxfordshire: 21st, 22nd, 23rd

September Workshop

Cornwall: 13th, 14th, 15th

Oxfordshire: 27th, 28th, 29th

December Workshop

Cornwall: 29, 30 Nov & 1st Dec

Oxfordshire: 6th, 7th, 8th

March Workshop

Cornwall: 28th Feb & 1st, 2nd March

Oxfordshire: 7th, 8th, 9th

June Workshop

Cornwall: 6th, 7th, 8th

Oxfordshire: 20th, 21st, 22nd

September Workshop

Cornwall: 12th, 13th, 14th

Oxfordshire: 26th, 27th, 28th

December Workshop

Cornwall: 5th, 6th, 7th

Oxfordshire: 12th, 13th, 14th

Clinical Supervision, Point Location and Clinical Skills Assessment

Supervision and assessments are ongoing, forming part of your practical workshop provision.

Course Details

Why is Our Course Different?

Our one-year Five Element Acupuncture Diploma is a revolutionary new way of acupuncture training.

Unlike other acupuncture courses, our diploma is a rolling teaching programme. You can start at any time. We have no start dates, so you can begin when you are ready.

Our acupuncture blended learning programme is fully comprehensive, mixing four intensive three-day workshops and 12 interactive online learning modules. With access to your experienced acupuncture tutor throughout your training, we provide expert guidance in both practical and theoretical skills.

As it stands in the UK, acupuncture is not a statutorily regulated profession. In the past, the usual entry to acupuncture as a career has been by the way of a three-year degree. This can be time-consuming and also costly.

This Five Element Acupuncture Diploma is exciting in the way that it delivers exactly what the student requires – to be a safe and effective practitioner, at a cost that is affordable. And it enables you to carry on with your day job while also gaining your acupuncture qualification.

Acupuncture Students Complete 100 Hours Practical

The Five Element Acupuncture Diploma is accredited by The Acupuncture Society and we are a registered College with the Complementary Medicine Association (CMA).

Upon successful completion of the course, and receiving your permission to practise, you will be eligible for our insurance scheme. You will also be able to join the CMA and/or The Acupuncture Society and receive all the benefits that membership offers.

Accredited by the Acupuncture Society
CMA Registered College
Entry Requirements

The course is open to anyone looking to become an acupuncturist. Maybe you are:

  • Unfulfilled in your existing employment and looking for a change of career.
  • Someone who is looking for a part-time business that fits in with your lifestyle.
  • Perhaps you are retired and looking for a new challenge and extra income.
  • You're already a health professional wanting to expand your knowledge.
  • A therapist who wants to add an exciting form of Chinese medicine to your practice.
  • An acupuncturist from another background, perhaps western acupuncture trained, looking to learn the Chinese  Five Element style of treatment.

The only prerequisites are that you have a desire to help people, and can commit yourself to the study of this fascinating form of medicine. Contact us for an informal chat to see if what we offer if the right fit for you.

What Can I Earn as an Acupuncturist?

A qualified acupuncturist can earn a very good living from their practice. An average cost of a treatment can be £40-£50 depending on geography and location. If you are dedicated to growing your practice, you can generate a healthy monthly income. Business and marketing guidance for professional practice forms part of our ongoing monthly Zoom calls.

Course Fees

One Year Five Element Acupuncture Diploma: £4995

Upon acceptance on to our Five Element Acupuncture Diploma training programme, payment can be made using the bank details below. There are two ways to pay:

One Initial payment: £4995.00


Deposit: £195 Followed by 12 Monthly Standing Order Payments: £400 Per Month

Account Name International College of Acupuncture

Account No. 22000350 Sort Code 40-44-34

It is very important to note that you need to complete all 12 modules, four workshops, clinical supervision, assessments and assignments and receive a pass to gain your permission to practise.

We provide needles and supplies throughout the course. Extra costs students need to be aware of:

  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Food for weekends
  • Books and study material
  • Insurance and registration fees
  • First Aid course (Booked Independently)
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Acupuncture needles for home use
  • Needle pad

We will provide a detailed list of books and materials upon enrolment.


Does a professional body regulate this course?

Acupuncture is not statutory regulated in the UK. Although we are unable to guarantee that this will always be the case, there are self-regulating bodies that provide support and recognition to acupuncturists. The Acupuncture Society accredits the Diploma. Upon passing the course, our students can join this organisation. The ICA is also accredited by the Complementary Medical Association.

You would not be able to join the British Acupuncture Council as they only recognise degree-level courses.

Can I be sure that the one year Diploma course is to a good academic and clinical standard, and is not a watered down program?

The course has been carefully structured to ensure a balance of both academic and clinical excellence. 

The academic structure has been designed using a combination of blended and spiral learning supported with an eLearning platform and personal tutor guidance.

The clinical skills along with supervised patient consultations and treatment planning are conducted face to face with very experienced clinicians during the clinical weekends.

All in all, we have ensured the course delivers the essence of Five Element Acupuncture to the standard required by the accredited professional bodies.

Are we insured to practise acupuncture when we complete the course?

ICA has its own insurance scheme set up with a company called Balens, which is a leading insurer. You can take out student insurance as you study and convert that to practitioner status when you qualify. N.B. If you are based outside of the UK, please check with Balens before you enrol regarding student insurance cover for the UK practical workshops. Balens do not provide acupuncture cover for qualified practitioners outside of the UK.

Can I practise abroad when I qualify?

Unfortunately, this is impossible to answer. Most countries have their own regulatory requirements for acupuncture practice, so it is really down to the country you are looking at and its requirements. As it stands, the Diploma course will cover you to practise in the UK.

How long do I have to complete the course?

You have a year's access to the eLearning platform to complete the 12 monthly modules. Should you take longer, due to circumstances discussed with your tutors, you will need to pay a £75* administration fee, which will grant you access to the eLearning material for the agreed extension period. The course documents are printable, so we would recommend that you print these as you work through the eLearning modules. The videos will only be viewable inside the platform.

*This amount may be subject to change.

Can I take a break from the course?

Yes, it is possible to take up to a three-month deferral. However, it is important to note that any deferral constitutes a break in tuition but does not constitute a break in the 12-month financial agreement. It would be best to discuss this, should it arise, with your personal tutor, as if the break is too long, it may be necessary to restart the course from the beginning* to refresh your knowledge. N.B. See above for information about the additional administration fee. *If restarting, there may also be additional tuition fees required to cover the extra teaching time you will require on top of what you have already received.

Will I receive a certificate at the end of the course?

Upon passing the course, you will receive certification that you can proudly display on your wall. Following this, you can then apply for your license to practise from your local authority.

Are there any additional costs other than the course fee?

A few outlined above are things like student insurance, a recognised first aid course (booked independently), a blood pressure monitor, reading material, acupuncture needles, a needle pad and supplies. Also, accommodation and travel that you require to attend the weekend workshops.

Can I get a refund of my fees if I decide to stop the course?

You have the option to withdraw from the course after the first practical weekend. Notice of intention to withdraw must be provided within at least 5 business days of the end of the first practical weekend. If your fees are paid monthly, then no further payments will be due (except for any outstanding balances) and no refunds will be issued for payments already made regardless of your start date.

Tuition fees paid in full upfront will be eligible for a partial refund if the Student chooses to withdraw after the first practical weekend. The refund amount will be calculated based on the tuition already received, and deductions will be made accordingly.

What if I miss a quarterly practical training weekend?

We understand that in exceptional circumstances, you might need to miss a training weekend. Students are required to complete 100 practical hours, so a missed weekend must be made up. One missed weekend can be made up on the subsequent quarterly practical weekend in Cornwall or Oxfordshire at the end of the 12-month period, subject to availability and scheduling arrangements.

Excessive absences, regardless of reason, may necessitate repeating parts or all of an academic year. Missing consecutive workshops, for instance, creates a significant gap in training, potentially affecting skill proficiency. A member of faculty will work with you to find suitable solutions, which may include adding extra additional practical weekends, subject to availability and scheduling arrangements, with associated costs passed on to you.

What if I miss one day or a few hours of the required practical training?

As outlined above, the course requires 100% attendance, but we appreciate that this is not always possible. We have introduced regular additional morning workshops in Oxfordshire and Cornwall for students who wish to avail of extra tuition. These workshops are optional for students to attend, so there is an additional cost. They cannot be used for banking hours in place of the four practical three-day weekends, but if some training hours are missed, due to unforeseen circumstances, these can be made up by attending an additional morning workshop, with costs borne by the Student.

Please note: Additional morning workshops need a minimum number of students to run, so places are not guaranteed.

Can I start studying straight away?

Yes, absolutely! That is what is so exciting about the Diploma. Subject to the application form and a brief zoom or telephone chat, you can be online straight away.

Can I really become an acupuncturist in only 12 months?

Yes, which is one of the most exciting aspects of this course! The Diploma is the first of its kind. We are using a mixture of blended learning with material written and presented by two senior acupuncturists with over 50 years of experience between them. We are confident that the standard of tuition on this course will be second to none. Between them, our tutors have taught hundreds of practitioners, both in the UK and worldwide and are highly recognised as leaders in their field. You can be confident that we will equip you to become a successful acupuncture practitioner by the end of your Diploma course.

What assignments and assessments will I need to undertake to complete the course?

As outlined in the 'Course' Structure' above, we assess students in a range of ways.

Online Tests (Modules 1-12): A mini test is found at the end of each of the 12 eLearning modules. These tests require a 100% pass rate and will be marked by one of our tutors. Should you answer any of the questions incorrectly, you will be able to retake them. This process helps to cement the theoretical content of each module.

5 Written Assignments (Modules 2, 6, 7,8, 10): There are five marked essays to complete within the eLearning Platform. The assignments must be submitted by the deadline and receive a minimum pass mark of 40%.

3 Case Studies (Modules 7, 8, 9): These assignments provide you with the opportunity to look over an example of a typical preface sheet and to explore/unpack the gathered information and to collate it in a manner that guides you to the formulation of a treatment plan. The tutors will provide feedback and a summary of each case study and the assignment must be submitted by the deadline to receive a pass.

3 Home Traditional Diagnoses (Modules 8, 9, 10): The Traditional Diagnosis (TD) is a crucial part of your practice. Therefore, we ask students to complete three home TDs. There are detailed guidelines within the eLearning modules on how to conduct these sessions. Important: Needling and moxibustion are forbidden without supervision outside of the College. This assignment is purely diagnostic in nature.

Seasons Diary (All Year): This is an ongoing personal, creative, reflective piece of work that records your observations and feelings about the Five seasons. This project must receive a minimum pass mark of 40%.

Manual of Learning Portfolio (All Year): It is important to collate your learning for ease of reference and professional development. This is unmarked, but must be submitted as part of your overall coursework requirement to receive a pass.

Pulse Taking (All Year): We expect students to take and record at least 200-240 pulses throughout their year of study. Your records will be examined by the tutors as part of your overall coursework and will need to be accurate and complete to receice a pass.

Annual Clinical Skills (All Year): Your tutors continually assess your clinical skills as part of your practical provision to ensure each aspect meets the high standard of safety and competence required to practice.

2 Supervised Traditional Diagnoses and Treatments (Weekend 4): Your two supervised TDs and treatments are held on your fourth clinical weekend. If you are local to the campus, you will need to provide two patients. For students that need to travel a long distance, the College will endeavour to supply two patients. Your supervised TDs will be marked and if any aspect is failed, provision for a resit of that aspect will be provided during the weekend. N.B. If the assessment receives an overall fail, then the student will be required to take a full resit, this will necessitate a revised date and will incur an additional fee. The College reserves the right to decide the suitability of a student to undertake future resits. Options will be discussed with the student as to whether additional training will be required, the cost of the latter to be borne by the student.

The College makes provision for students to be assessed on their fourth weekend, so attendance is expected. However, should you be unable to complete your TDs on this weekend, you will need to discuss this with your tutor and the College Registrar to reschedule your assessment on the Saturday (or in some cases, the Sunday) of the next quarterly practical workshop in either Cornwall or Oxfordshire.

Please note: There will be a charge of £130* for attending a Supervised TD Assessment outside of your four three-day weekends.

*This amount may be subject to change.

Are there any future study options after I finish the course?

The International College of Acupuncture are continually developing training courses and CPD in specialist subjects that will be of benefit should you wish in your future career. You are joining a family when you start working with the ICA, and we hope that relationship will last for many years.


Ciaran Ryder

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in health and well-being, either professional or personal, to enquire further with the team at ICA and discover the range of learning and opportunities available.

The delivery and content of the 5 Element Diploma has been beyond expectations with tutors readily sharing their vast experiences and resources.

Also, when participating in the course you may find yourself starting to view daily situations from a new and exciting perspective, this has proven to be rewarding and beneficial on many levels.

Kelly Richards

Having the opportunity to train in something I have wanted to do for a long time under both Michael and Paul is such an incredible privilege and a valued opportunity. The course is delivered with a passion and breadth of knowledge that can only come from their years of experience; their enthusiasm for the subject has enhanced my own leaning experience. I always look forward to the monthly weekend training sessions, these weekends are very hands on with the practical aspects of acupuncture, I also look forward to meeting everyone in the group who are all amazing friends.

The online material is without doubt superb, so much detailed information and content has been put in to the resources, the online material is also very accessible. The study at home is achievable and I have managed to fit it around a full time job and family life.

Sarah Phillips

Being part of the ‘family’ at ICA and looking back on our first weekend, it helps me appreciate the huge amount of learning that we have already done, even though it hasn’t felt so overwhelming due to the support of our tutors and each other as a group.

The course is delivered in a spiral of bitesize chunks, making it easy to digest as well as link together, and includes a starter pack of materials to start you off on your journey in practising your skills.

The course is thorough and extensive, covering a wide variety of acupuncture aspects from its history all the way to present day practices.

If you apply to join this professionally delivered course, you won’t be disappointed.

Richard Jago

This is a really marvellous course. The knowledge, skills and manner of both Michael and Paul really put you at ease, especially if, like me, this is a leap into something new for you. The practical support and guidance from Stacey also bears a mention, as does the brilliant online resources – something that genuinely surpasses what was available at university a few years ago.

Finally, if you’re wavering about joining the Sept cohort on account of Covid-19, I wouldn’t be deterred – they’ve mastered that too with Zoom meetings that replicate the college brilliantly. When this is all over you’ll be more than ready for the practical side of the learning, and think of the positive effect we’ll be able to have on the health of our loved ones and wider communities in the future. You won’t regret it.

Kathy Hitchens

Over half way through the first year and this course has surpassed my expectations. The knowledge and enthusiasm is obvious from Paul and Michael and they always have encouraging words when any of us struggle for time or motivation with coursework between teaching weekends. Even during the coronavirus restrictions, they have adapted to ensure we can still all meet up virtually online every month so that our learning journey continues uninterrupted. Deciding to study this course pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I’m very glad I made the first step.

Mike Noone

I decided on this course as it’s local and efficient over one year. What I found was three devoted very experienced staff/practitioners that run a very smooth and thorough programme that gives confidence and a deep understanding of Qi, the origins of acupuncture and with a wholistic paradigm treating the Causative Factor, the original dysfunction, ie. a system that doesn’t chase symptoms.

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