Molecular and Functional Properties of Milk

Course content

 The course primarily deals with the following subjects:

Introduction: The chemistry of milk components such as lactose, milk proteins and peptides and lipids.

Milk production and its effects on milk: Milk secretion, the influence of housing and feeding regimes, milking technologies and their influence on raw milk quality, organic production of milk.

The colloidal system of milk: The properties of the casein micelles and the interplay with milk serum (whey) proteins and lipids:

The effects of heat treatment of milk: Denaturation and aggregation reactions, the Maillard reaction, milk proteolytic enzymes and analytical separation processes, such as chromatography, used to characterise these. The effects of processes involving mainly heat treatment on the bioactivity of milk ingredients.

Functionality of milk constituents and methods applied for characterization of functionality: Solubility, interfacial properties, gelation properties, rheology, scattering techniques, microscopy, design of model systems and tests for functional properties.

Health functionality/bioactivity of milk constituents.


MSc Programme in Food Science and Technology

Learning outcome

This course has the overall aim of providing students with a detailed knowledge of both theoretical and practical aspects of the molecular, colloidal and functional properties of milk and milk production. In addition, the functionality of food ingredients derived from milk will be covered.

After completing the course the student should be able to:


  • Describe in detail the composition of milk
  • Describe the colloidal interactions governing stabilization and destabilization of milk and dairy products
  • State the major factors influencing milk production and raw milk quality, including milk storage
  • Outline the factors affecting milk ingredient functionality in food systems and how they can be analysed
  • Appreciate the effects of dairy production and processing on milk at a molecular level


  • Apply the principles of colloid science to milk processing and milk ingredient functionality
  • Structure a scientific presentation and produce a condensed synopsis


  • Understand the effects of basic thermal processes on milk components and the effects of the feed
  • Discuss the factors influencing milk ingredient functionality
  • Reflect on the health functionality/bioactivity of milk constituents
  • Recognise the importance of working effectively in a group during laboratory practicals

The course consists of lectures and tutorials (4-8 hrs/week) and laboratory practicals (4-8 hrs/week), as well as e-learning, and field trips.
Lectures and tutorials provide an overview of milk quality and thermal processing on the fuctionality and bioactivity of milk and milk ingredients. Laboratory practicals dealing with aspects of milk as a colloidal system and milk protein functionality are also included as well as excursions. Part of the module (two days during one week) will take place at The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Jutland. Minor costs for this excursion are payed by the students

See Absalon for a list of course literature.

Knowledge equivalent to a dairy internship is recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
Assessment will be based on the preparation of a synopsis of a subject within the curriculum and an oral examination. One week prior to the actual exam, students draw a subject and prepare a written synopsis (1-4 pages), which will be given to the examiners and then presented orally. Questions can cover all of the curriculum. The presentation should take no more than 10 minutes. Following the presentation the internal examiners will ask questions for 5-10 minutes.
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
  • 26
  • Preparation
  • 90
  • Theory exercises
  • 15
  • Practical exercises
  • 32
  • E-Learning
  • 3
  • Excursions
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 10
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
Excursion is outside the module structure
No limitation
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Food, Human Nutrition and Sports
Contracting department
  • Department of Food Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Anni Bygvrå Hougaard   (4-7273797851778080753f7c863f757c)
Anni Bygvrå Hougaard <> will also co-responsible for this course.
Saved on the 28-11-2022

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Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students