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Life Cycle Assessment and Beyond

Life Cycle Assessment and Beyond

Release Date: June 2021

Professional Accreditation: IEMA (as part of MSc)

Lead Organisation: IBERS, Aberystwyth University

Evaluating environmental impacts: do your assessments measure up?

Life Cycle Thinking is at the heart of attempts to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of production. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approaches are widely used to quantify the impacts of production, identify hot spots, and analyse the consequences of change. The use of LCA has broadened over time, from an initial focus on quantifying environmental impacts to the exploration of social impacts via Social LCA, the analysis of economic costs through Life Cycle Cost Assessment, and the development of integrated Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments. The scope of LCA studies has also increased, with the advent of the Circular Economy requiring assessments capable of incorporating reuse and recycling into ‘cradle to cradle’ studies.

This module is designed to introduce Life Cycle Thinking and to provide a holistic understanding of LCA approaches and their application, giving students the knowledge they need to critically engage with LCA studies, from choosing the most appropriate types of study for specific contexts, to interpreting results and identifying limitations.


The course will consist of a series of lectures and guided learning focused on:

List of Units

Introduction to Life Cycle Thinking

Introducing LCA approaches, their context and use

LCA: Goals, Scope and Inventory Analysis

Attributional and Consequential LCA and an exploration of LCA studies from the setting of goals to the collation of an inventory of production effects

LCA: Impact Assessment and Interpretation

Examining the LCA process from the classification of inventory data to their transformation into impact indicators and the interpretation of findings

Evaluating LCA Case Studies

Evaluating a range of LCA studies to identify their strengths and weaknesses  

The Global Carbon Cycle Farming and GHGs

Modelling the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of food production

Carbon foot-printing: the impacts of livestock farming

The first part of an exploration of livestock farming and its emissions

Carbon foot-printing: Evaluating the models

The second part of the exploration of livestock farming and its emissions and a hands-on carbon foot-printing exercise

Ecolabelling and implementing

What comes after the identification of environmental issues? LCA as a basis for Eco-labelling and the challenges to implementing change in farming

Introduction to Social LCA

How does S-LCA work, what are its challenges and how has it been applied?

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

Integrating the quantification of Environmental, Social and Economic impacts of production – where are we up to and where is LCA heading?


Tutors Name
Dr Richard Kipling