NFOK17002U Molecular and Functional Properties of Milk

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Food Science and Technology


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. 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, Maillard reactions, 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, gelation properties, rheology, microscopy, design of model systems and tests for functional properties. Biological activity of milk components.

Learning Outcome

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.

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.
The course consists of lectures and tutorials (4-8 hrs/week) and laboratory practicals (4-8 hrs/week), as well as e-learning, and excursions.

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.

Minor costs in relation to excursions are payed by the students.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 26
  • Preparation
  • 90
  • Theory exercises
  • 15
  • Practical exercises
  • 32
  • E-Learning
  • 3
  • Excursions
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 10
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
One week prior to the actual exam, the student draws a subject and prepares an oral presentation in this subject. Assessment will be based on the oral presentation and following questions within the course curriculum. The presentation should take no more than 8 minutes. Following the presentation the student will be asked questions for approx. 7 minutes.
Exam registration requirements

Approval of reports from practicals.

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

Same as ordinary exam.

The student draws a new subject a week before the re-exam and a new presentation is prepared and given at the examination. If the student has non-approved reports from the practicals, these must be handed in for approval at least two weeks prior to re-examination.



Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome