FBMSSC-Sensory Science

Module Provider: Food and Nutritional Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Stella Lignou

Email: s.lignou@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module aims to prepare postgraduate students with the necessary skill to conduct sensory evaluation within the food industry or further academic research. This will be achieved by developing an understanding of the underpinning factors which influence perception and behaviour; from the physical stimulant to psychological factors. Students will be able to select, design and conduct sensory analyses of food based on different hypotheses; and to analyse, interpret and report the results in a scientific manner. The student will develop the knowledge required to act as a sensory panel leader, including learning how to screen and train panellists, and how to successfully maintain a panel.


  • Provide a comprehensive understanding of sensory science, its application to the assessment of food, and the underlying physiology and psychology behind perception.

  • Develop the skills required to design, conduct and report sensory analyses through laboratory-based sensory methods, to enable students to be able to use sensory panels in industrial and academic research.

Assessable learning outcomes:

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Explain the physiological and psychological mechanisms which drive perception of food, from the physical stimulant to the response outcome.

  • Select design and conduct  appropriate sensory methods for specific hypotheses

  • Statistically design and analyse sensory data in order to interpretsensory panel performance and demonstrate impact for an industrial or academic research application.

  • Explain the process of recruiting a sensory panel and be able to discuss appropriate training and monitoring of the panel.

  • Critically asses the validity of sensory methodologies and sensory science.

Additional outcomes:

Students will:

  • Have the opportunity to take the IFST (Institute of Food Science and Technology) Certificate for Sensory Training at Intermediate level (this is not compulsory or part of the module mark).

  • Enhance their skills in statistical analysis.

  • Increase their experience in scientific communication.

  • Have the opportunity to enhance teamwork skills.

  • Gain the skills to apply these concepts to the sensory evaluation of non-food items (cosmetics, personal healthcare, pharmaceuticals, etc).

Outline content:

The module is designed to be delivered as an intensive course over 2 weeks and is structured around:

  1. The science behind sensory perception: the senses and cross-modal interactions

  2. Sensory methods

    1. Discrimination tests

    2. Descriptive techniques

    3. Temporal methods

    4. Rapid descriptive methods

    5. Consumer methods

  3. Running sensory panels

    1. Recruitment and screening

    2. Training

    3. Maintenance

    4. Ethics, health & safety

With a goal of being able to conceive, design and conduct sensory analyses for a given question.

Global context:

The sensory properties of foods have a major role in food choice and diet as well as in the commercial success of manufactured food products. This module equips students with the knowledge and skills to carry out relevant sensory evaluation of foods as well as the ability to discuss individual differences in perception which may impact on food choice and therefore have global health implications.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will utilise dynamic online learning to deliver material regarding the sensory panel.

Practical classes will be used to give a sensorial learning experience and coupled with lectures and seminars to build understanding on all aspects of sensory science.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8
Seminars 4
Practicals classes and workshops 16
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 6
    Wider reading (directed) 8
    Peer assisted learning 4
    Advance preparation for classes 5
    Preparation for presentations 15
    Preparation of practical report 8
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 8
    Group study tasks 10
    Reflection 8
Total hours by term 0 100 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 30
Oral assessment and presentation 50
Practical skills assessment 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students critically evaluate recent advances in sensory perception of foods and disseminate their learning though an oral peer reviewed presentation (30% module mark).

As part of a team students will design and undertake a sensory evaluation method; this will evaluated through assessment of practical skills (20% module mark), a group presentation of the sensory data related to product differences (20%). Individually students will assess and interpret the performance of the sensory panellists and submit a panel feedback document (30%).

Formative assessment methods:

A formative assessment in the form of a Blackboard test develops an understanding or sensory panel performance.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Students have the option to take the IFST intermediate certificate in sensory science. This test costs £15 per person (payable to the IFST).  This test does not contribute to the module mark and can be taken after the 2 week module period.

Last updated: 14 May 2019


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