Fundamental Theory of TCM & TCM Terminology

July 22, 2019

General Information
Duration 1 semester (14 teaching weeks)
Level Year 1, Semester 1
Unit Weighting Unit Credit Points: 10 credit points
Total Course Credit Points: 320 credit points
Student Workload Number of timetabled hours per week: 4
Number of personal study hours per week: 6
Total workload hours per week: 10
Prerequisites None
Academic Details
Description This unit of study provides students with a foundation in the theories of Chinese medicine and a introduction to TCM terminology required for the further study of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine. The content will include the history, development, strengths and limitations of CM, Yin Yang and Wu Xing theory; the structure and function of the body (organs, channels, and vital substances); the Channel system and its role in human physiology; the Chinese medicine theory of the causes, development and progression of disease; the approaches to the prevention and management of diseases; and the therapeutic principles and methods employed in traditional Chinese medicine practice. The use of the Pin Yin system of Romanisation will be also included to enable students to accurately spell, pronounce, write, and understand common CM terms used in their study of CM. Students will also learn to use a Chinese-English Pin Yin dictionary of Chinese medicine terminology. TCM treatment will be explored and examined in awareness of Australia’s multi-cultural and multi-racial context and in accordance with seasonal conditions, local conditions, and the patient’s individuality.
Upon completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Discuss the history, philosophy, development, strengths and limitations of Chinese medicine and the necessity to refer to peers, or other medical and health professional when appropriate.
  2. Define the concepts and describe Yin Yang and Wu Xing Theory, Zang Xiang theory, Jing Luo system, vital substances, and Shen.
  3. Explain the pathogenesis, disease mechanism, treatment principle, prevention from the TCM perspective in appreciation of the multi-cultural/multi-racial context of Australia.
  4. Demonstrate the use of the Pin Yin system of Romanisation in writing Chinese medicine terminology, the writing of commonly used simple Chinese medicine characters, the reading and pronunciation of commonly used medicinal terminology relevant to the practice of Chinese medicine.
  5. Demonstrate the use of a Chinese-English Pin Yin dictionary.
Unit requirement To successfully complete the unit, students must: attend 80% of all the lectures and tutorial classes; attempt all assessment tasks including summative and formative assessments and achieve at least 50% of the total marks; and achieve a mark of at least 40% in the final examination.
Assessment Assessment 1: Flow Chart (35%)

Assessment 2: Terminology Quiz (15%)

Assessment 3: Final examination (50%)

Prescribed text * The prescribed and recommended readings are subject to annual review.

Maciocia, G. (2015). The foundations of Chinese medicine: A comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists (3nd ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. (eBook is available)

Recommended readings Kaptchuk, T. J. (2000). Chinese medicine: The web that has no weaver (Rev. ed.). London: Rider.

Liu, Y., Eckman, P., &Vian, K. (1996). The essential book of traditional Chinese medicine. New York: Columbia University Press.

Marchment, R., & Wu, G. (2005). Chinese for TCM practitioners. Forest Hill, Vic.: Ji Sheng Chinese Herbs.

Unschuld, P. U. (2003). Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medicine. Berkeley: University of California Press.

World Health Organization. (2007). WHO international standard terminologies on traditional medicine in the Western Pacific Region. Retrieved from