Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Life Cycle Assessment and Beyond
Academic Year
Distance Learning
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Carbon Footprinting Report  Report on a given Carbon Footprinting tool 2000 Words  35%
Semester Assessment Forum Reoprt  You are asked to contribute to a forum discussing a specific topic, and subsequently to write a 1,500-word report addressing that topic, based on the inputs to the forum. This assignment has two parts. In the first part, you should contribute to the forum while it is open (from Week 1 to Week 8). The evidence and perspectives which you and your fellow students present in the forum, are the material you should use to write your assignment. So the forum represents a joint effort to produce good assignments by exploring the topic and identifying relevant arguments and evidence from the literature. Once the forum is closed, you will receive a word document containing all the material posted, for you to use in writing your report. In the second part of the assignment, your task is to draw together a report which answers the forum topic question, using only the perspectives and evidence (including reference sources) presented by yourself and others in the forum itself (part 1). In other words, the quality of discussion in the forum will to some extent determine how good your report can be – if key aspects are not raised or discussed in the forum, they will also be missing from your submitted piece. You will need to draw out the main arguments/perspectives raised in the forum posts, summarise the evidence presented, and come to a conclusion based upon it. The conclusion you reach can be a perspective that wasn’t in the forum. To avoid ‘free riding’ (people not contributing but using the discussion to produce their answer) up to 30% of marks may be deducted for limited or poor quality engagement in the forum (although individual posts will not be marked).  25%
Semester Assessment Literature Review  Review the LCA literature on how the primary production end of a given supply chain (e.g. Beef, milk, lamb etc.) affects the environment, and the measures that might reduce such impacts. You are expected to do more than list findings; you need to summarise and synthesize the literature to draw out the underlying research stories such as, what are the big issues, what are the most effective types of solution, what is the future outlook? 2500 Words  40%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Describe and assess life cycle thinking and life cycle assessment as approaches to improving the sustainability of production systems

Evaluate the key characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the four stages of environmental LCA

Apply life cycle thinking to food production systems

Critically assess online agricultural carbon footprinting tools used to evaluate food production systems

Brief description

Life Cycle Thinking is at the heart of attempts to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of production especially given the importance of transition to zero carbon. 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, such as climate change mitigation and adaption, 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.


- 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 LC - 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?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Numeracy will be demonstrated in the assessed case study task using published and datasets to determine economic viability of a process.
Communication Students will be expected to communicate complex research outputs to their peers in the online forums and also through written assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Detailed feedback will be given for assignment work. This will be assessed through the feedback providing general guidance towards the student’s next assignment.
Information Technology Students will be required to source information from a variety of scientific publication data bases and to use Blackboard for all aspects of the module. Creation of their digital story assessment requires the use of technology.
Personal Development and Career planning ​This module will provide the students with the latest research with sustainable accreditation of a bioproduct of process to help them to develop their business or provide the most up-to-date information/advice to their colleagues/clients in the food and agricultural Industry.
Problem solving Problem based learning challenges alongside online forum posts will be used throughout the module to help develop and improve student’s problem-solving skills.
Research skills Students will be required to undergo directed self-study, so will develop their literature research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts relating to LCA and CVORR will be developed and assessed throughout the module.
Team work Online assessments will require students to debate among themselves to develop a consensus of opinion.


This module is at CQFW Level 7