Quantitative Bio-spectroscopy

Course content

Spectroscopic measurement techniques have a number of advantages to classic chemical and chromatographic measurement techniques:

  • Rapid (can be used to monitor process dynamics and is an advantage for Quality Control (QC) logistics)
  • Non-destructive (facilitate measurements on intact sample structures and a requirement for on-line measurements)
  • Environmentally friendly (no use of chemicals and no harm to the environment)
  • Multivariate (exploit first order data advantage and gives the possibility of measuring several quality parameters simultaneously)
  • Remote (allow for volumetric measurements and 'through packaging' measurements)

The Danish food, pharma and biotech industries have in recent years shown a steadily increased interest in developing and adapting spectroscopic measurement techniques for on-line monitoring of their processes in real time. The advantages of using non-destructive spectroscopic measurement techniques may give significant improvements in raw material grading, product and process knowledge, quality and safety and is endorsed by the FDA for use in the pharmaceutical industry as 'Process Analytical Technologies, PAT'. It is therefore almost certain that future food, pharma and biotech candidates will find themselves with problems that best can be solved by using spectral sensors. The spectral sensors can also be used in the food process industry as well as in food legislation bureaus.

Through lectures and hands-on laboratory exercises, the course will introduce and familiarize the students to/with the most widely used spectroscopic techniques spanning a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum including fluorescence, near infrared (NIR), infrared (IR), Raman and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

Course relevance
The course is of prime importance to the food, pharma and biotech candidate education as on-line process monitoring becomes more and more widespread in the advanced segment of the industry and because spectroscopy constitutes a new efficient tool for investigating biological processes in industry, humans and plants. Furthermore, the methods have the potential to ensure a sustainable production, since they can optimize processes and hereby reduce the raw material need together with reduction in the energy and water use (targeting especially the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, but also SDG 3: Zero Hunger).


MSc Programme in Food Science and Technology
MSc Programme in Biotechnology

Learning outcome

The main objective of this course is to make the student familiar with the basic concepts and physics of the most abundant non-destructive spectroscopic techniques utilized for on- or at-line process monitoring and quality control in the modern food, pharma or biotech-industry. The course is designed to give the student basic theoretical background and hands-on experience with fluorescence, NIR, IR, Raman and NMR spectroscopy. The course will emphasize practical use of spectroscopy and discuss problems, pitfalls and tricks of the trade in relation to quantitative use of spectroscopy including, for example, spectroscopic calibration and optimal sample presentation to spectrometer.

After completing the course the student should be able to:


  • Describe various spectroscopic methods (electron spectroscopy, vibrational spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance)
  • Define how to present a theoretical or practical spectroscopic result
  • Perform spectroscopic measurements and data analysis (qualitatively and quantitatively) on selected biological mixture problems



  • Suggest and apply spectroscopic monitoring equipment and sampling to solve specific problems, including on-line real-time applications
  • Operate selected spectroscopic equipment and application to complex biological matrices
  • Understand and communicate spectroscopic expert and research literature to fellow students
  • Reflect on advantages and disadvantages of spectroscopic measurements and their applicability in an on-line setting


  • Carry out selected spectroscopic measurements on complex biological samples
  • Interpret selected spectroscopic data from biological samples and process streams
  • Evaluate spectroscopic data quantitatively with basic chemometrics (PCA and PLS)

The course will be taught in a combination of lectures, theoretical exercises and practical laboratory exercises. The different spectral measurement techniques will be taught through lectures and examples on specific applications in the industry via selected guest lecturers. The laboratory exercises will be performed in small groups of maximum four students. Each group of students will be assigned a quantitative sample series using a mixture of complex substances of biological origin to be investigated. The data has to be evaluated and presented in a written group report followed by an oral individual examination.

See Absalon for a list of course literature.

Fundamental qualifications within analytical food quality control methods and within exploratory data analysis / chemometrics (similar to the course NFOB16000U Exploratory Data Analysis / Chemometrics) are highly recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, during course
Oral examination, 20 min
The students will be evaluated on basis of a written group report with clear indication of individual contributions (50%) and a following final individual oral examination based on a presentation and discussion of the report and the course curriculum (50%). Both the group report and the oral examination must be passed in order to pass the course.
Weight: Project report 50%, Oral examination 50%.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 25
  • Preparation
  • 40
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Practical exercises
  • 35
  • Project work
  • 70
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
Study Board of Food, Human Nutrition and Sports
Contracting department
  • Department of Food Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Søren Balling Engelsen   (2-75674268717166306d7730666d)
  • Klavs Martin Sørensen   (6-766b7e3d413a4869747d75767136737d366c73)

Local teachers from FOOD and invited industrial guest lecturers.

Saved on the 01-03-2021

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