NFOK14025U Quantitative Bio-spectroscopy

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Food Science and Technology
MSc Programme in Biotechnology


The Danish food, pharma and biotech industries have in recent years shown a steadily increased interest in developing and adapting spectroscopic measurement techniques for rapid quality control and 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. It is endorsed by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for use in the pharmaceutical industry as a key technology in Process Analytical Technology (PAT). Spectral sensors in combination with multivariate data analysis have the potential to minimize raw material use, energy and waste in most manufacturing processes. This has the potential to provide a major contribution to the future sustainable production. These tools are some of the most important elements in the future transition to digital food manufacturing and industry 4.0 manufacturing solutions.

Spectroscopic methods have several advantages over classic chemical and chromatographic measurement techniques for quality control and process monitoring:

  • Rapid: This is an advantage for at-line Quality Control (QC) and for monitoring process dynamics
  • Non-destructive: This facilitates measurements on intact samples which is a requirement for on-line and in-line measurements
  • Green analytics: In contrast to chromatographic methods, spectroscopic methods require no sample preparation and thus use no chemicals and make no harm to the environment
  • Multivariate: Typically, a large number of wavelengths are measured simultaneously, which makes it possible to exploit the first order data advantage and to measure several quality parameters simultaneously
  • Remote: This is an advantage which allows for non-contact and 'through packaging' measurements.

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 visual (VIS) , 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 an 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).

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 VIS/UV/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, and hands-on experience on how to work with spectroscopic data in a practical way (i.e., data pre-processing and multivariate data analysis).

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 for quality control and/or process monitoring



  • 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).

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.
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.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 25
  • Preparation
  • 40
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Practical exercises
  • 35
  • Project work
  • 70
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral exam on basis of previous submission, 20 min
Type of assessment details
Individual oral exam

The student will be evaluated on basis of the written project-report with clear indication of individual contributions and the individual oral examination based on a presentation and discussion of the project-report and the course curriculum.

In order to acces the oral exam the submission (project report) must be submitted during the course.
Exam registration requirements

Theoretical exercises approved.


All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The same as the ordinary exam.

Possibility to re-submit missing theoretical exercises and/or missing group report two weeks before the re-examination. Handing in of corrected group reports (passed) from the ordinary exam is not accepted.


Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome