Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Footprinting Principles

The concept of life cycle thinking and its application to support decision-making for product systems. The course will provide an overview of the principles and methodology for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) according to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, and introduce related environmental footprinting approaches (carbon and water footprinting).

Course code

Qualifications are made up of courses. Some universities call these papers. Each course is numbered using six digits.



The fourth number of the course code shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).



Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.




Course planning information

Course notes

Students are required to use their own computer to download a software programme and do some modelling.

Expected prior learning

Maths studied up to NCEA Level 3

General progression requirements

You may enrol in a postgraduate course (that is a 700-, 800- or 900-level course) if you meet the prerequisites for that course and have been admitted to a qualification which lists the course in its schedule.

Learning outcomes

What you will learn. Knowledge, skills and attitudes you’ll be able to show as a result of successfully finishing this course.

  • 1 Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Footprinting methods - differentiate and explain the concept of life cycle thinking as distinct from other concepts in environmental management.
  • 2 Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Footprinting methods - recognise the underlying principles and assumptions in LCA methodology.
  • 3 Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Footprinting methods - evaluate the role of alternative life cycle-based approaches in environmental management.
  • 4 Undertaking a Life Cycle Assessment study - conduct an LCA study using an LCA software program.
  • 5 Undertaking a Life Cycle Assessment study - evaluate the results of an LCA study in order to provide information to support decision-making.
  • 6 Use of LCA studies to support decision-making - critically examine the role of LCA and/or footprinting studies in contributing to development of more sustainable value chains.

Learning outcomes can change before the start of the semester you are studying the course in.


Assessment Learning outcomes assessed Weighting
Written Assignment 1 11%
Written Assignment 2 11%
Test 1 2 3 12%
Written Assignment 4 5 33%
Written Assignment 6 33%

Assessment weightings can change up to the start of the semester the course is delivered in.

You may need to take more assessments depending on where, how, and when you choose to take this course.

Explanation of assessment types

Computer programmes
Computer animation and screening, design, programming, models and other computer work.
Creative compositions
Animations, films, models, textiles, websites, and other compositions.
Exam College or GRS-based (not centrally scheduled)
An exam scheduled by a college or the Graduate Research School (GRS). The exam could be online, oral, field, practical skills, written exams or another format.
Exam (centrally scheduled)
An exam scheduled by Assessment Services (centrally) – you’ll usually be told when and where the exam is through the student portal.
Oral or performance or presentation
Debates, demonstrations, exhibitions, interviews, oral proposals, role play, speech and other performances or presentations.
You may be assessed on your participation in activities such as online fora, laboratories, debates, tutorials, exercises, seminars, and so on.
Creative, learning, online, narrative, photographic, written, and other portfolios.
Practical or placement
Field trips, field work, placements, seminars, workshops, voluntary work, and other activities.
Technology-based or experience-based simulations.
Laboratory, online, multi-choice, short answer, spoken, and other tests – arranged by the school.
Written assignment
Essays, group or individual projects, proposals, reports, reviews, writing exercises, and other written assignments.

Textbooks needed

There are no set texts for this course.