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Complex Physics of Cooking


Admission Requirements


When we cook, we often take soft, biological materials and manipulate them to create taste and texture that we like to eat. The physics underlying these processes as well as the actual experience of the prepared food is very rich and at the same time fundamental in nature. In this course, we use the science of cooking to introduce students to these fundamental concepts in soft condensed matter and biological physics.

Specific topics include:

  • Sauces to Gels: Networks and percolation

  • Fractal structures

  • Texture: Elasticity and viscosity

  • Visco-elasticity

  • From mayonnaise to bread: emulsions and foams

Course Objectives

On completing this course, you will know how to:

  • Describe networks and percolated states

  • Determine the fractal dimension of a structure

  • Determine the viscosity and elasticity of simple materials

  • Be familiar with basic mechanical models and their viscoelastic features

  • Identify and create a mechanical diagram to represent a material

  • Analyze basic structural characteristics of foams and emulsions


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of Instruction

See Brightspace
Lectures, tutorials (exercise classes) and homework assignments. The lectures, exercises and exam are in English.

Assessment Method

Written exam at the conclusion of the course.

There will also be homework assignments. Participation in the problem sessions and handing in homework assignments can earn you a bonus of maximally 1 grade point on top of the exam grade.

Reading list

Textbook: Science and cooking by Brenner, Sörenson and Weitz


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. An exemption is the fall semester for 1st year bachelor students, the student administration will enroll this group.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Dr. Louise Jawerth


You will learn to allocate your time to accomplish problem sets within their deadlines.