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Principles of Sensory Science


Subject Area Agriculture & Food Science
Credits 5
Start Date 20 January 2025
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Course Leader (opens in a new window)Dr. Emma Feeney


50% Learner Fee Subsidy

Application Deadline 06 January 2025

Understanding the food we eat and the impact it can have on our health is at the core of Food and Nutrition Science. Taste and flavour are consistently rated as the greatest influence on food choices, impacting what, and how much of, that food we will consume.

In this micro-credential, you will learn all about the science that underpins our understanding of flavour and taste perception in food, and many of the different techniques available for the different types of research questions in this area. These methods can be applied to a huge variety of situations such as in reformulation to reduce sugar and salt while maintaining sensory appeal, to assess the popularity and customer taste satisfaction of a new food product, or even to develop strategies for increasing the palatability of food, for example, to enhance vegetable consumption in children or improve consumer perception of hybrid meat.

This micro-credential is designed to give you the essential tools to understand and use the key principles of sensory science in food-related research. It will focus on techniques used in industrial sensory evaluation. In particular, sensory principles will include aspects of panellists, both trained and naive; requirements of test area equipment and facilities; analytical and subjective tests including difference testing, methods for consumer testing and statistical approaches. 

The content will comply with ISO standards for sensory testing, accessed via The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) Database.

Key Features

This micro-credential is relevant to professionals who are currently working in the food and beverage industry, start-ups and SME’s who would like to run in-house sensory evaluations, anyone involved with new product development or reformulation projects, technical and quality assurance staff, food technologists, those working in product development, researchers, sales and marketing staff, and health professionals seeking to understand the role of sensory science in consumer behaviour and food intervention strategies.

On successful completion of this micro-credential students will be able to:

  • Describe the human sensory systems and understand how we perceive stimuli in our environment, and how this is related to our interaction with, and enjoyment of food.
  • Know the ways in which we can measure individual differences in taste, smell and flavour.
  • Understand the underlying theory of detection and recognition thresholds.
  • Understand the difference between consumer (liking/ hedonic) and difference tests, and be able to choose the appropriate one for a given situation.
  • Know some of the key methodologies in sensory science and when to use them.
  • Know where to find information on standard sensory methodology (ISO standards).
  • Apply your knowledge to answer key questions in sensory and consumer science.

Lectures will cover how we perceive taste, smell, touch, sound and sight, and the role these senses play in our food flavour perception and in our food choices. You will also learn about the underlying theory of how we measure these percepts and the many types of sensory tests used in consumer and sensory science.

Completing this micro-credential will give you the confidence to discuss the topic based on sound reliable information delivered by UCD experts and have access to the latest research in the field of sensory science and its critical role in food product development, consumer behaviour, consumer perceptions, and food choice.

You will gain practical skills in choosing methods and developing tests for a variety of situations and will be able to apply your knowledge to a range of different contexts. The continuous assessment strategy seeks to develop scientific writing and report writing and presentation skills in addition to discipline knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

This micro-credential is delivered through the UCD online learning platform (Brightspace). This is a self-directed, project-based micro-credential designed for you to work through the material at your own pace as much as possible. You will need to meet the key assessment dates, but you can read the material and engage with the lectures as and when fits your schedule. 

You will learn in a variety of ways, through a mixture of autonomous learning, tutorials, peer review and feedback, and project-based learning.  A discussion forum will enable peer-to-peer interactions and discussions.

A repository of resources will be available to support your learning, and as a UCD student, you will have full access to the library. 

This is a 5 ECTS micro-credential and involves approximately 100 hours of learner effort.

Applicants are required to hold an NFQ level 8 Honours degree (minimum 2nd Class Honours Lower) or equivalent.

Applicants who do not meet this requirement may be admitted on the basis of considerable relevant experience.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proof of English proficiency as per UCD's minimum English language requirements.

All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Assessments will be scheduled at times that vary over the trimester and will be submitted remotely through Brightspace. The assessment elements may include:

  • Essay plan; peer review of the essay plan and the final version of the essay -50%
  • Mind map; rationale/project proposal; detailed experimental design report - 50%

You will choose your own topics and you can also decide on which format you prefer to conduct your second assignment in (i.e. you may decide to submit a Word document or make a recorded PowerPoint presentation). The activities and tasks are designed to promote active learning as you navigate through this exciting new topic.

Feedback will be provided on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment and post-assessment guided by rubrics. You will also have opportunities to peer review a range of different works from fellow students from various backgrounds.

Please note: Learners can avail of only one form of funding per application. 

Micro-Credentials Learner Fee Subsidy-Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3

The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy has been introduced to enable more learners to address critical skills gaps and engage with lifelong learning through micro-credentials. The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy is funded by Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

HCI Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidies are available on identified micro-credentials only and in fixed numbers from March 2024 until October 2025.  

Please see Eligibility Criteria for further information.