University of Technology Sydney

99665 Chinese Medicine Foundations 1

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Life Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks


This subject introduces the basic theoretical concepts of Chinese medicine, providing a broad foundation to subject areas that are built on throughout the Chinese medicine degree. The basic theories presented in this subject underpin all aspects of Chinese medicine theory and practice.

Subject areas covered include the traditional Chinese medical view of health, aetiology (the origins of illness), diagnosis, principles of treatment, traditional physiology (the qi-functions of the 12 organs and 14 main channels), Chinese medical terminology, philosophical traditions and the canonical Chinese medicine text known as the Huangdi Neijing Suwen.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. apply their knowledge of Chinese history, especially the main social and political developments that influenced the development of Chinese medicine, to their understanding of CM basic theory (CMBA Course Accreditation Standard 6.5.3)
2. explain the importance of the Huangdi Neijing Suwen for the development of Chinese medicine theory, including key concepts such as qi, yin-yang and five phases (wu xing), and describe its applications in clinical practice
3. identify the general features and functions of the internal organs, channel system, and basic physiological substances (qi, blood, fluids, essence and spirit–mind)
4. describe and explain the general features of major acupuncture point categories and the main channel surface pathways, in order to outline some of the basic indications for their use in the treatment of disease (CMBA Course Accreditation Standard 6.6.1)
5. utilise their understanding of Chinese medical models to explain the origins and development of illness (pathogenesis and patho-mechanisms), and the Chinese medical approach to treating illness and maintaining health
6. recognise some simple Chinese characters relevant to the theory of Chinese medicine and demonstrate how the pin yin system is used for writing and pronouncing Chinese medicine terms (CMBA Course Accreditation Standard 6.5.1 & 6.5.2)
7. develop, understand and participate inequitable groupwork practices to devlop and reflect on their academic,professional and interpersonal communication skills
8. apply information retrieval, academic literacy and written communication skills to group learning activities and academic reporting

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Apply: Demonstrate expertise in Chinese medicine’s classical and contemporary theories, research, and clinical health practices to support patient health and wellbeing. (1.1)
  • Synthesise: Integrate information and data to inform health care delivery and monitor outcomes to support patients and the community. (1.3)
  • Apply: Develop effective problem-focused assessment skills to differentiate diseases and patterns, and apply clinical reasoning to make diagnostic and therapeutic judgements. (2.1)
  • Apply: Demonstrate the ability to make clinical judgements and decisions based on available evidence and practice. (4.1)
  • Synthesise: Integrate methods of inquiry to derive data and reflect on information to adapt innovatively to different and changing industry. (4.3)
  • Apply: Demonstrate a high level of writing, reading and speaking in English and an ability to engage constructively in conversation with health stakeholders, including community, other health disciplines, and policy makers. (5.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

1.0 Disciplinary knowledge:

  • Your CMF1 studies will establish a firm understanding of TCM basic theory and its applications for health care.
  • The subject will introduce you to the history of Chinese medicine, its philosophical assumptions and fundamental principles, and the importance of CM's historical and philosophical contexts for the practice of CM today.
  • CMF1 will introduce the fundamental concepts of Chinese medicine: the 14 main channels, the organ systems, the basic physiological substances, how to maintain health, causes of illness, and treatment methods.
  • Your learning of CMF1 content (disciplinary knowledge) will take place in the weekly pre-class learning activities, in-class quizzes and learning activities, and formative assessment tasks; we will assess your learning and application of CMF disciplinary knowledge in both the formative assessment tasks and the summative end of semester exam.

2.0 Research, Inquiry and Critical Thinking:

  • CMF1 learning activities and assessment tasks require that you read widely and critically on the topics to deepen your understanding of basic theoretical concepts,
  • CMF1 learning and assessment tasks require that you develop and practice information retrieval and academic literacy skills to investigate and report on topic areas.
  • For your CMF1 assessments, you will investigate and integrate relevant materials for the analysis of texts, and the understanding of basic theoretical concepts.

4.0 Reflection, Innovation, Creativity:

CMF1 assessment Task 1 involves review and reflection of your learning experience using the Learning resources folder on UTSOnline in the UTSOnline platform.

5.0 Communication:

Through in-class learning activities, including informal class presentations and group activities, and the written assessment tasks, you will practise and develop your interpersonal, professional and academic communication skills. Your practise of and proficiency in communication skills will be explicitly assessed as part of the Annotated Bibliography and Short Essay assignments (Tasks 2a and 2b).

Teaching and learning strategies

The learning within this subject is based around weekly pre-class online learning activities, interactive lectures and workshop sessions.

The pre-class learning activities can be found in UTSOnline under the tab titled “Pre-class activities” and need to be completed prior to the lectures each week. These activities include readings, quizzes and practice exam questions designed to prepare you for the in-class group discussions, quizzes and in-class presentation activities.

Classes for this subject are comprised of two-hour interactive lectures each week followed by two-hour collaborative workshops. New topic areas are covered in these sessions and you are encouraged to discuss and explore the topics in a collaborative group environment. The online learning and pre-class learning activities are briefly discussed in the lectures and tested through weekly activities including group-work, quizzes and short in-class presentations in the workshops.

During the workshops, from week 2, you will receive feedback from your peers and teaching staff when you are completing the groupwork activities, individual quizzes and practice exams. The content for this subject is delivered in two components which run concurrently throughout the semester, and are divided into a series of Lesson topics. The ‘Lessons’ are designed sequentially so that your understanding of the concepts and knowledge gained in preceding topics can develop and deepen as you progress through the subject.

An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills to succeed at university and in the workplace. To determine your current academic language proficiency, students in the Chinese Medicine program will complete an online language screening task, OPELA (information available at The OPELA will be used to help us identify students who need extra help with English language. If you receive a Basic grade for OPELA, you must complete additional Language Development Tutorials (LDTs), as advised, in order to pass the subject. These tutorials are designed to provide personalised support and enhance students’ English language skills. They focus on developing your communication skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and your independent learning skills, which will help you to prepare for the subject assessment tasks and for professional workplace communication tasks. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not complete 80% of the language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

In this subject, the OPELA will be scheduled in Week 1 on Tuesday 10/03/20 at 3.30 pm in room CB04.04.320-c-pc. Only those students enrolled in the Chinese Medicine program are required to attend. If you are taking this subject as an elective in another program you do not need to attend the OPELA session.

Component 1 (C1): Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine

C1 covers the basic theoretical foundations of CM including yin/yang, wuxing, CM physiological substances, and the causes of disease within the CM framework.

The learning in C1 is based around the CMF1 Course Notes, (provided in Week 1), and the weekly interactive lectures. Pre-reading of the course notes and completion of pre-class activities is expected prior to attending the lectures. The CMF1 Course Notes present the information on the weekly C1 ‘Lessons’, as well as guided summaries, suggested readings, and focus questions.

Suggested readings are given as part of the pre-class learning activities for the CMF1 Lesson topics. These are available in the "Selected Readings" folder in UTSOnline. In addition, you should read as widely as possible on assigned and related topics. Wider reading, with the focus questions in mind, will help you broaden and consolidate new concepts, and relate these to other areas of the subject and the course.

Component 2 (C2): Introduction to Chinese Medicine’s Channel and Organ Systems

C2 covers the basic pathways and functions of the CM channel and organ systems. The learning in C2 is presented through the UTSOnline platform under the “Component 2” tab and is reinforced through the workshop activities. You should access these learning materials and readings weekly, as part of your pre-class preparation and study for the subject. The readings contain relevant information for completing the C2 aspect of the pre-class learning and preparation.

A pair of channel-organ systems are introduced each week, and organised according to the theoretical and practice frameworks discussed in C1. For those students enrolled in the Chinese medicine degree course the C2 material on the organ–channel systems should coincide somewhat with your study of channels and acupuncture points in Point Location 1.

It is expected that you set time aside each week to work through the lessons and related materials and complete the required pre-work in preparation for your class activities. You should expect to spend a minimum of six to eight hours per week on your independent study and reading, in addition to attending the classes for this subject.

Learning Development Tutorials

Chinese Medicine students who score a “Basic” grade in the OPELA task are required to complete the Language Development Tutorials. Chinese Medicine students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not complete 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade. The details for these tutorials will be available soon after the beginning of term, and further information will be provided for those students affected by this.

Content (topics)

  • A broad historical overview of the development of Chinese medicine
  • An introduction to the Neijing Suwen
  • An introduction to Chinese medical terminology
  • Key philosophical, scholarly, political and social influences on the evolution of Chinese medical thinking
  • Chinese medicine’s conceptual frameworks (qi, yin-yang, wuxing, Heaven-Earth-Humanity) and their applications in clinical practice
  • An introduction to jing, qi, shen, xue, jinye (Chinese medicine’s vital substances), the zangfu (functional areas and their associations), the jingluo (the channel system, and specifically, the main surface pathways and major point groupings), and the systematic correspondences
  • Chinese medicine’s perspective on physiology, aetiology, diagnosis, treatment, and maintaining health


Assessment task 1: Task 1. Learning Resources


This assessment item addresses the following graduate attributes:

1.0 Disciplinary knowledge

2.0 Research, Inquiry and Critical Thinking

4.0 Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5.0 Communication


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.3, 2.1, 4.3 and 5.1

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 10%

The written review should be approximately 300 words in length


Task 1 requires that you

  • Demonstrate your ability to navigate UTSOnline platform. Demonstrate your engagement with the subject and the field of Chinese medicine
  • Demonstrate your engagement with academic and professional communication skills

Assessment task 2: Task 2a & 2b. Annotated Bibliography & Essay


This assessment item addresses the following graduate attributes:

1.0 Disciplinary knowledge

2.0 Research, Inquiry and Critical Thinking

4.0 Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5.0. Communication


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.1, 2.1, 4.1 and 5.1

Type: Essay
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

2a – This task should include an introductory paragraph and four (4) annotated bibliography entries.

2b – minimum 1000 words, maximum 1500 words.


2a: To successfully complete Task 2a, you will demonstrate your ability to:

  • apply information retrieval skills to select appropriate sources
  • compile well written annotations that show your ability to extract, describe and summarise key relevant information from your sources
  • compile well written annotations that evaluate the credibility of your sources, and that demonstrate your written communication skills
  • write reference list entries accurately and correctly using the Harvard-UTS referencing style **

2b: To successfully complete Task 2b you will demonstrate your ability to:

  • effectively communicate your knowledge of Chinese Medicine theories effectively.

For further information on assessment criteria, see the assessment rubric found in UTSOnline.

This assessment will be assessed for English language proficiency. You may be guided to further language support after the completion of this subject if your results in this milestone task indicate you need more help with your language skills.

NOTE: All submitted papers and all online contributions making use of published materials, should be properly referenced and include a properly completed references list. Referencing is a basic requirement of academic writing. If your work does not properly reference the sources you have consulted, this constitutes plagiarism. To make sure you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, please go now to:

You will be able to check your Essay submissions for plagiarism using the Turn-it-in facility in UTSOnline.

In CMF1, plagiarized and copied assignment submissions will attract a zero mark.

** The UTS Faculty of Science uses Harvard UTS style for referencing.

For information on referencing, referencing software, and using the Harvard UTS style, go to:

For video tutorials on referencing, go to:

Assessment task 3: Task 3. End Semester Exam


This assessment item addresses the following graduate attributes:

1.0 Disciplinary knowledge


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3, 4 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):


Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Length: 2 hours + 10 minutes reading time

Adequate knowledge of content areas

Minimum requirements

To successfully complete CMF1 you will need to gain 50% or more in your overall marks for the assessments listed above.

Any assessment task worth 40% or more requires the student to gain at least 40% of the mark for that task. Assessment task 3, the end of semester exam, is worth 40%. You must achieve at least 40% in this final exam. If 40% is not reached, an X grade fail may be awarded for the subject, irrespective of an overall mark greater than 50.

It is a requirement of this subject that all Chinese Medicine students complete OPELA. Students who receive a Basic grade in the OPELA task are required to complete the Language Development Tutorials (LDTs). The Faculty of Science expects that you complete at least 80% (and ideally 100%) of the LDTs. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not complete 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Required texts

Chinese Medicine Foundations 1 - Course Notes

Recommended texts

For Chinese Medicine Basic Theory:

  • Ellis, A. & Wiseman, N. 1996, Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, Paradigm Publications, Brookline, MA.
  • Kaptchuk, T. 2000, Chinese Medicine - the Web That Has No Weaver, Rider, London.
  • Kong, Y. 2005, The Cultural Fabric of Chinese Medicine: How to Know Your Body Through Chinese Medicine, The Commercial Press, Hong Kong.

For an edition of the Neijing Suwen:

  • Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation 2005 (originally c. 100 BCE), trans. Z.G. Li, vols. 1-3, World Publishing Corporation, Xi'an.
  • Kong, Y.C. 2010, Huangdi Neijing: A Synopsis with Commentaries, The Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.
  • Lu, H.C. 1990, A Complete Translation of Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine (Nei-jing and Nan-jing) Academy of Oriental Heritage, Vancouver.
  • Ni, M. 1995, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary, Shambhala, Boston.
  • Unschuld, P.U. & Tessenow, H. 2011, Huangdi Neijing Suwen, vols. 1 and 2, University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Veith, I. 1972, Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen - the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, trans. I. Veith, University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Wu, N.L. & Wu, A.Q. 2005, Yellow Emperor's Canon Internal Medicine, China Science and Technology Press, Beijing.
  • Zhu, M. 2001 The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing.


Bertschinger, R. 2015, Essential Texts in Chinese Medicine: The Single Idea in the Mind of the Yellow Emperor, Singing Dragon, Philadelphia PA.

Buck, C. 2015, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: Roots of Modern Practice, Singing Dragon, London.

Chace, C. & Zhang, T.L. 1997, A Qin Bowei Anthology: Clinical Essays By Master Physician Qin Bowei, trans. C. Chace & T.L. Zhang, Paradigm Publications, Brookline.

Farquhar, J. 1994, Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine, Westview Press, Boulder.

Farquhar, J. & Zhang, Q.C. 2005, 'Biopolitical Beijing: Pleasure, Sovereignty, and Self-Cultivation in China's Capital', Cultural Anthropology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 303-27.

Garvey, M. 2015, A Clinical Guide to the Body in Chinese Medicine: History and Contemporary Practice, Paradigm Publications, <>.

Garvey, M. 2011, 'The Transmission of Chinese Medicine in Australia', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 8, no. 2,p. 13, viewed December 2011.

Garvey, M. & Qu, L.F. 2001, 'The Liver’s Shuxie Function', European Journal of Oriental Medicine, vol. 3, no. 5,pp. 32-37.

Harper, D. 1998, Early Chinese Medical Literature: The Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts, Kegan Paul International, London.

Hill, S. 2014, Chinese Medicine from the Classics: A Beginner's Guide, Monkey Press, London.

Hinrichs, T.J., and Linda L. Barnes, eds. 2013. Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Kohn, L. 2004, Cosmos and Community: The Ethical Dimension of Daoism, Three Pines Press, Cambridge.

Kuriyama, S. 1999, The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine, Zone Books, New York, London.

Lao-Tzu 1993, Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching, trans. R.G. Henricks, The Modern Library, New York.

Lau, D.C. 1988, Tao Te Ching, Penguin Books, London.

Liu, Y. 1998, Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy Press, Beijing.

Lloyd, G. & Sivin, N. 2002, The Way and The Word: Science and Medicine in Early China and Greece, Yale University Press, New York, London.

Loewe, M. & Shaughnessy, E.L. 1999, The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Long, Z. 1995 Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy Press, Beijing.

Maciocia, G. 2005, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists, second edn, Elsevier Churchill Livingston, London.

Morley-Warner, T. 2000, Academic Writing is…: A Guide to Writing in a University Context, CREA/UTS, Sydney.

Qu, L.F. & Garvey, M. 2001, 'The Location and Function of Sanjiao', Journal of Chinese Medicine, no. 65,pp. 26-32.

Qu, L.F. & Garvey, M. 2006, 'Shen-zhi Theory: Analysis of the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Disorder', European Journal of Oriental Medicine, vol. 5, no. 2,pp. 4-17.

Qu, L.F. & Garvey, M. 2008, 'Exploring the Difference Between Chinese Medicine and Biomedicine Using the Yi Jing’s Epistemic Methodology', Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, vol. 3, no. 1,pp. 17-24.

Qu, L.F. & Garvey, M. 2009, 'On the Psychological Significance of Heart Governing Shen Ming', Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, vol. 4, no. 1,pp. 14-22.

Qu, L. & Garvey, M. (eds) 2015, Anecdotes of Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Bilingual Extracurricular Reader for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai Science and Technology Press, Shanghai.

Rochat de la Vallee, E. 2006, A Study of Qi, Monkey Press, London.

Rochat de la Vallee, E. 2006, Yin Yang, Monkey Press, London.

Rossi, E. 2007, Shen: Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, London.

Sivin, N. 1987, Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China: A Partial Translation of the Revised Outline of Chinese Medicine (1972): With An Introductory Study On Change in Present Day and Early Medicine , Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.

Unschuld, P.U. 1985, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Unschuld, P.U. 1986, The Chinese Medical Classics: Nan-Ching, The Classic of Difficult Issues, University of California Press, Berkeley.

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

Unschuld, P.U. 2005, Chinese Life Sciences: Introductory Readings in Classical Chinese Medicine, Paradigm Publications, Taos, New Mexico.

Wang, H. 1999, Diseases, Symptoms, and Clinical Applications of the Yellow Emperor’s Canon on Internal Medicine, New World Press, Beijing.

Wiseman, N. & Feng, Y. 1998, A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine, Paradigm Publication, Brookline.

Wu, C. 2002, Basic Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Publishing House of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Shanghai Zhong yi yao da xue chu ban she), Shanghai.