Professional Course 3-year route

This 3-year online course offers an in-depth education in Herbal Medicine accredited by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and consisting of approximately 3,600 hours of taught and directed study over 3 years, divided into 12 modules. It is rooted in the understanding that an authentic herbal medicine course must transcend the biomedical model, and support the growing body of knowledge of the healing power of plants.
The three Herbal Tradition modules are deeply integrated to ensure that the learner develops breadth and depth in the understanding of both the therapeutic repertoire of contemporary plant-based medicine, and the philosophical and historical traditions that underpin its use in holistic practice. The Human Science and Clinical Methods modules adopt a systems-oriented approach, based on the principles of Functional Medicine, in which emphasis is placed on the fundamental balances and processes that determine health. The student learns to embody a process of open inquiry, moving from pattern to detail and back again – a practice at the heart of the art of all medicine.

The inclusion, in years 2 and 3, of Integration Modules – in which all lectures have a patient-centred focus, with students completing clinically-oriented small-group tasks each week – allows the introduction of inquiry-based learning (IBL) techniques proven to have beneficial effects on student satisfaction, and on the successful achievement of learning outcomes.

Students who wish to practice professionally are required to complete a 500-hour Heartwood Clinical Training Scheme during Years 2 and 3 of their studies on the Professional Course, in addition to their online studies.

To find dates, fees and general information, please click "3-Year Course at a glance".

Curriculum outline:

Year & Module Course Title Course Content
Year 1 PC101 The Herbal Tradition 1 Herbal medicine philosophy and materia medica
Year 1 PC102 Plant science Pharmacology; pharmacognosy; pharmacy and dispensing; ecology
Year 1 PC103 Human science 1 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Year 1 PC104 Practitioner development 1 Research methods, medical ethics
Year 2 PC201 The Herbal Tradition 2 Materia medica; the manufacture of herbal medicines
Year 2 PC202 Clinical Methods 1 Case taking; differential diagnosis; medical tests; counselling
Year 2 PC203 Human science 2 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Year 2 PC204 Integration 1 Case-based IBL, with a focus on herbal medicine
Year 3 PC301 The Herbal Tradition 3 Plants in practice; toxicology and safety
Year 3 PC302 Clinical Methods 2 Clinical examination, safeguarding, restorative nutrition
Year 3 PC303 Practitioner development 2 Business skills; practice management and development; research project
Year 3 PC304 Integration 2 Case-based IBL

Study methods:

The delivery of this course takes place through a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) called Moodle.

A range of learning and teaching activities take place via this online delivery platform including -

  • Substantial weekly lessons embedded into the delivery platform, featuring filmed tuition by expert practitioners from around the world, underpinned by text, graphics, and additional learning resources
  • Signpost sessions comprising film and text guidance on the learning journey, including progression through the course and assessment tasks and methods
  • Regular one-to-one tutorial guidance on all matters relating to the course (including student welfare)
  • Exclusive masterclasses comprising bespoke filmed interviews supporting the learning aims of the course
  • Online conferencing, real-time events, group tasks and discussions

All video materials are accompanied by slide presentations, detailed notes and other break-out materials, as well as carefully targeted external links to photos, public domain audio, and relevant video snippets.

There are two students entries to the Professional Course each year - in April and September - and course modules are divided into 3 terms per year to allow for summer, Christmas and spring breaks.

Herbal Tradition lll Module Leader, Chanchal Cabrera, says:

It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of designing, developing and delivering a really holistic online education program in clinical herbalism. Making use of modern technology to bring together experts from around the world, and opening this expertise to students all over the world, is innovative and exciting. It creates opportunities for teachers and students to build an international herbal community of practicing medical herbalists and life time learners.


Human Sciences Module Leader, Nicole Freris, says:

I feel honoured to be part of Heartwood. It is an initiative that the world is ripe for! The rich tradition of western herbalism, and the ever-present power of plant medicine, is in its re-emergence. Supported by the young science of Functional Medicine, this course will create a wonderful synergistic integration of the best of the old and new. The mix of online lectures and apprenticeships will offer both flexibility and support, freeing the learning from the usual institutional constraints. I trust it will serve for all those called to support our journey back to health and vitality.