Determinants of Food Consumption

Course content

The course has its focus on the different factors underlying consumers’ food behaviours. Central to the course are theories on determinants of food consumption, strategies to change behaviour, and the social significance and meaning of food. Social, cultural, cognitive, developmental, psychophysiological and neuroeconomic approaches as well as theories of human action and of decision making processes are discussed.

Factors influencing food acceptance throughout life, the relationships between choice, consumption of foods and the sensory, psychological, and physiological responses in the human body are presented and discussed. The course also adresses topics such as:

  • Food culture
  • Eating habits
  • Meal structures and patterns
  • The importance of food and meals in everyday life
  • Social and cultural influences on food preferences
  • Food acceptability and habits
  • The role of health in ordinary eating habits
  • Food security
  • Strategies for influencing acceptance of sustainable foods, including repeated exposure, conditioning, nudging and choice architecture
  • Public health nutrition and nutritional health disparities.

The students will work in groups on a curriculum related topic, and hand in a project report towards the end of the course. The report will be a literature review.


MSc Programme in Food Innovation and Health

Learning outcome

The course aims at introducing students to key determinants of food consumption from different perspectives.



  • List the most important determinants that play a role in food consumption
  • Express knowledge about the meanings associated with food and meals
  • Describe social and cultural variations in people's relationship to food
  • Describe different scientific review types.


  • Explain the coupling between sensory and physiological effects on food intake
  • Analyse and discuss formation of food preferences and habits and how these are related to social life, cultural meaning, sensation, perception, cognition, emotion and physiological process
  • Understand the central social and cultural aspects of people’s relationship to food
  • Explain basic principles in public health nutrition and food access
  • Understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods in the scope of the course materials
  • Design and reflect on solutions to handle scientific as well as everyday life problems in breaking and/or establishing new food habits
  • Compare and explain how different scientific disciplines work with food consumption.



  • Evaluate and critically review scientific work related to changes in food consumption and transitions towards more sustainable behaviours
  • Collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams
  • Assess food and nutritional related issues from a social and cultural perspective
  • Critically assess study designs and scientific literature
  • Write scientifically in the form of a literature review.

Lectures, exercises and project work, including discussions of projects. Theoretical concepts are introduced in the lectures that will include highlights of research linked to the subjects presented. Students will work with problems within these concepts in the theoretical exercises and will learn to apply or reflect on the theories.

See Absalon for a list of course literature

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

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
The exam grade is comprised of two parts:
1. Individual assessment of the group report during the first part of the oral exam (30% of grade)
2. Individual assessment of the student's knowledge, skills and competences regarding the course curriculum during the second part of the oral exam (70% of grade).

No preparation time and no aids allowed, but the student can bring a paper version of the project report to the oral exam.

Both parts must be passed for the student to pass the course.
Exam registration requirements

Hand in and presentation of the project report. 

Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as ordinary exam.

A failed project report has to be edited and re-submitted at least two weeks before the date of the re-examination.

Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 62
  • Preparation
  • 78
  • Theory exercises
  • 10
  • Project work
  • 55
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
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
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Annemarie Olsen   (3-717e7f50767f7f743e7b853e747b)
  • Bodil Helene Allesen-Holm   (4-7379727951778080753f7c863f757c)
    (Course coordinator)
  • Wesley Dean   (10-7c6a78716a7e696a6673456e6b777433707a336970)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

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