Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

Life Cycle Assessment within Biological Production Systems

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017
Block 4
Programme level Full Degree Master
Course responsible
  • Sander Bruun (3-7765664474706972326f7932686f)
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Course number: NPLK14004U

Course content

Life cycle assessment is a multi-disciplinary tool that is used to assess all the environmental impacts associated with the production of a product or a production system. The tool is increasingly applied as an aid in political decision making and knowledge about the tool is therefore highly relevant to students interested in environmental science and management.

The course covers general LCA theory:
1. Goal and scope definition
2. Inventory analysis
3. Life impact assessment
4. Interpretation of results

This include important subjects like definition of functional unit, system boundary delimitation, allocation, system expansion, change-oriented versus accounting LCA, consequential versus attributional modeling. Impact assessment methodology and sensitivity analysis.

Special emphasis will be given to various environmental and resource conservation problems that arise in conjunction with products of biological production systems (e.g. horticultural crops, field crops, production animals, aquaculture, food industry, pharmaceutics). The students are also introduced to the concept of cost benefit analysis (CBA) and illustrative examples of CBA based on value transfer will be given.

Learning outcome

The objective of the course is to learn the theory behind, and to gain experience with applying life cycle assessment to biological production systems. The course will teach the students the basic principles for conducting an LCA and to evaluate environmental impacts of biological production.

Upon completion of the course the students should be able to:

- Identify major environmental impacts of biological production systems - Show overview of the theory of life cycle assessment (LCA)
- outline the definition of scope, goal, inventory analysis and impact assessment - Describe how LCA can be used for improving production systems
- Reflect about pros and cons of LCA software.
- Summarize the transfer of LCA results to economic cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
- Describe alternative environmental assessment tools and their applicability

- Use LCA software and apply it to practical cases
- Apply LCA on different kinds of products of biological production systems - Analyse factors that influence the environmental impact of biological systems directly or indirectly
- Assess the conclusions in LCA-reports

- Discuss environmental problems associated with biological production systems
- Present an understanding of potential consequences of the results of an LCA
- Suggest improvements to biological production systems in terms of environmental impact with the aid of LCA
- Link LCA-outcomes with the CBA of economists and discuss the implications of this.

Recommended prerequisites

Basic course/background in environmental science

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MSc Programme in Agriculture
Bacheloruddannelsen i naturressourcer
MSc Programme in Environmental Science


Study Board of Natural Resources and Environment

Course type

Single subject courses (day)


Bo Jellesmark Thorsen
Niclas Scott Bentsen


1 block


---- SKEMA LINK ----

Teaching and learning methods

The course is divided in two major parts:

1. Introduction to the theory, principles and application of LCA;
2. Use of the acquired LCA competences on a self-chosen case-study of a product or process of a biological production system.

In the first part, the general theory of life cycle assessment will be presented the form of lectures and exercises and the students will be acquainted with life cycle thinking. In addition, the students will get hand-on experience with LCA software and acquainted with the possibilities of its use through exercises. A case study and several small exercises will illustrate the principles relevant to biological production systems such as land use, eutrophication, global warming etc.

In the second part the students will choose a case among a limited number of possibilities from a biological production system according to their interests. An expert in the area will act as a client requesting a LCA, while the student will act as LCA experts carrying out the assessment. This will be done in study groups, but the students will each write an individual discussion of the results. This case will serve to illustrate some of the practical problems with LCA in more detail and train the use of LCA software. In addition, lectures given by specialists of relevant fields, real life LCA application will be illustrated.






Course material will mainly be the book: - Henrikke Baumann and Anne-Marie Tillman: The hitch hiker's guide to LCA. Studentlitteratur, Lund, Sweden. In addition papers with background information for the cases and notes on CBA will be distributed during the course.


Category Hours
Lectures 39
Project work 93
Preparation 44
Practical exercises 30
English 206


Type of assessment

Oral examination, 20 min. under invigilation
Written assignment
The oral examination is weighted 60% and the written assignment 40%.


All aids allowed

Marking scale

7-point grading scale

Criteria for exam assessment

The assessment is based on the fulfillment of the learning outcome for the course in relation to the criteria in the 7-scale grading system

Censorship form

No external censorship
One internal examiner


A perquisite for the reexamination is that the group report and individual discussion of case 2 has been submitted at least two weeks before the student signs up for the reexamination. This can be submitted individuel.

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