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Designing and handling experiments in food science (2016)

ECTS credits:


Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD Course
Time of year: June 2016
No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation: 25 hours preparation, 25 hours teaching.
Capacity limits: max 15 participants, min 5


Objectives of the course:
The purpose of the course is to give an introduction to some of the basics of designing experiments in food science.


Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Construct an experimental design to cover a scientific question
  • Choose appropriate treatments, units/samples, responses to a food experimental design
  • Distinguish between controlled experiments and observational studies
  • Predict and be aware of the compromises of your design
  • Make use of controls in design of experiments
  • Describe the concept of confounding
  • Consider replicates and sampling when planning experiments
  • Make use of preliminary graphical analysis to explore data before statistical analysis
  • Plan full and fractional factorial designs to food experiments

Compulsory programme:

  • Read material
  • Consider a question or hypothesis in your project that you would like to design an experiment to answer/test

Day 1:

  • Correlation vs. Causality
  • Factors, experimental units and responses
  • Concept of experimental unit versus measurement unit
  • Confounding, randomization, factorial designs, fractional factorial designs
  • Finding the right levels of factors
  • Exercise: Planning a screening experiment - conducting screening experiment, analyzing results (optimize microwave treatment of corn to produce high quality popcorn)

Day 2:

  • Catch up
  • Use of controls in experiments
  • Blocking (96-wells, animals, batches etc.)
  • Sources of error – introduction to sampling theory
  • Exercise: Using screening experiment to design experiment, conduct experiment, analyzing results

Day 3:

  • Examples of experimental designs by PhD students at the end of their study
  • Work with your own experimental design
  • Present and discuss the individual experimental designs

Course contents:
Designing good experiments is a key concept of a successful PhD study.

We can easily discover correlations in data; however correlation does not imply causality. A well-planned experimental design can reveal causality (and then you can start to wonder about the mechanisms behind the causality – that will not be covered during this course). Conducting experiments can demonstrate consistency and responsiveness of your factors. Well-planned experiments should avoid systematic error, increase precision, estimate error and will widen the validity of your conclusions. Some basic concepts of planning food experiments will be covered during the course using examples and hands-on experiments including randomization, use of controls, considering choice of factors, samples and measurement methods, as well as awareness of the compromises that will be an effect of your choices of experimental design.

This course is more about planning the experiments than analyzing the results; however the effect of choices during planning will always be seen in the results.


Enrolled in a science based PhD programme. Master students can participate as a part their master project in agreement with the supervisor. The course fit best in the beginning of the PhD study.


Name of lecturer:
Postdoc Mette Marie Løkke


Type of course/teaching methods:
Reading selected material
Lectures and exercises
Design own experiment


Selected chapters and papers will be announced later. During the course Excel and Modde will be used ( 

Course literature: G.W.Oehlert. 2010. A First Course in Design and Analysis of Experiments. The book is freely available at


Course homepage:


Course assessment:
Active participation in all course elements including presentation of own experimental plan and commenting on experimental plans of fellow students. Passed/not passed.


Department of Food Science, Aarhus University


Special comments on this course:


6-8 June 2016




Deadline for registration is Tuesday, 17 May 2016.

For registration:

If you have any questions, please contact Mette Marie Løkke, e-mail:

The course has no fee for Danish PhD students and employees at Department of Food Science at AU. For others the fee is 3000 DKK.

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Revised 05.11.2018