Short courses


Conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): from Theory to Practical Application

  • 12 hours (part 1) and 12 hours (part 2)
  • 2 days (part 1) and 2 days (part 2)
  • 4 Nov 2024


This short course will give you an introduction to life cycle assessment (LCA) methods and how to apply them in real-life situations.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a rapidly evolving tool used to determine impacts of products or systems over a range of environmental and resource issues. Applying this method of assessment is complex and difficult and translating the theory into a credible, transparent and applicable practice can be very challenging.

The course consists of two parts. You can book both parts together, or choose to do part 1 or 2 only.

In part 1 (two days) you'll develop a solid understanding of the process, data requirements and how to make use of the results. You'll then get the chance to apply this knowledge to real-life case studies.

In part 2 (two days) you'll learn how to apply systems thinking and LCA to assess environmental dimension of circular economy, including both technical and biological materials cycles. You'll then learn how to critically evaluate and compare circularity indicator tools with LCA.

There will be many opportunities to:

  • discuss and benchmark the particular challenges you face within your organisation 
  • receive guidance from UCL experts and industry experts

This CPD course has been developed by UCL in collaboration with Ellen MacArthur Foundation's education team.

Watch a video about the course

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In September 2018, Dr Aiduan Borrion won UCL's Sustainability Education Award for leading the development and delivery of this short course. Read more about the award on the Green UCL website.

Course content

This is a two-part course (though you can take either part as a standalone course - see 'Structure and booking options').

Part 1 - LCA methods

The first part of the course will cover:

  • introduction to LCA methods
  • life cycle inventory data
  • allocation methods
  • impact assessment methods
  • result interpretation
  • practical issues with LCA and how to overcome them

Part 2 - LCA application in circular economy

The second part of the course will cover:

  • application of systems thinking in circular economy
  • application of LCA in circular economy, including both technical and biological materials cycles
  • critical comparative review of LCA and circularity indicator tools
  • comparison of LCA and circularity indicators through case studies
  • application of LCA and circular economy metrics and tools to track performance and prioritise actions relating to circular economy programmes in organisations

Who this course is for

This course is designed for anyone who has to conduct, understand or implement LCAs or associated policies, such as:

  • circular economy consultants
  • businesses involved in circular economy
  • energy specialists
  • engineers
  • interior designers
  • construction companies
  • government: those working in environmental policy
  • local authorities/housing associations
  • manufacturers
  • product designers
  • entrepreneurs/SMEs
  • sustainability consultants
  • sustainability/environmental managers
  • investors who specialise in 'green' technologies and products

Structure and booking options

The course is structured in two parts - part 1 focuses on LCA methods and part 2 on the application of LCA in circular economy. Each part is two days.

You can take either:

  • both parts of the course (either in one block of four days, or by taking part 1 first, then returning for part 2 at a later date of your choice)
  • part 1 only
  • part 2 only

Costs and concessions 

Each part of the course costs £750.

Booking both parts together will automatically give you a discount of 10%. The cost of booking part 1 and part 2 together is: £1,350


Part 1 will run on the following dates:

  • 13 to 14 May 2024 [fully booked - email a.borrion@ucl.ac.uk to join waiting list]
  • 4 to 5 November 2024

Part 2 will run on the following dates:

  • 15 to 16 May 2024 [fully booked - email a.borrion@ucl.ac.uk to join waiting list]
  • 6 to 7 November 2024

Please note that the November course will be delivered online, and the May course will be delivered in person in London.

Once you've booked, you should email the course administrator (a.borrion@ucl.ac.uk) to confirm which two dates you'd like to attend.

Entry requirements

For part 1 - you'll need to be familiar with Excel spreadsheets and bring your own laptop to be able to complete the Excel-based exercises.

For part 2 - you'll need to have completed part 1 or be familiar with LCA.

Teaching and certificates

You'll learn through a combination of lectures, hands-on examples, group discussion and exercises. The exercises are an opportunity to apply the theory learned to real-life case studies.

There is no formal assessment of the course.

On completion you'll receive a UCL certificate of participation, which will allow you to claim 24 hours' worth of CPD points for your professional status. 

Why you should take this course

By taking this course you'll:

  • have access to UCL and industry experts in LCA and the latest research and knowledge in this quickly-evolving area
  • have the opportunity to network with others facing the same challenges, share experiences and build a community of support and practice
  • learn not only the theory and principles but will have the opportunity to learn how to apply this in real-world situations
  • immediately be able to apply what you've learned in your workplace

If you choose to take part 2 at a later date, you'll have the additional benefit of being able to apply what you've learned in your workplace in between learning blocks. You can then return to the course with any questions, issues or challenges you experienced and benefit further from the expertise on offer, gaining a much deeper knowledge and understanding.

Benefits for employers sending staff on this course

As an employer sending your staff on this course, your business will benefit from:

  • having employees who more confident and knowledgeable in conducting LCAs and capable of producing more accurate reports and information
  • access to the latest knowledge, research and expertise from UCL
  • building links with others involved in LCA and circular economy and benefiting from the collective learning and experience

Learning outcomes

After completing this course (parts 1 and 2) you should be able to: 

  • understand the complexities and requirements of LCA
  • apply LCA with confidence
  • know how to access and analyse inventory data
  • use different methodologies for impact assessment
  • analyse and interpret the output of an LCA study
  • assess the environmental dimensions of circular economy with systems thinking and LCA
  • critically evaluate circularity indicators and sustainability tools
  • identify the possible applications and limitations of LCA and its role within the wider environmental management context

Course team

Dr Aiduan Borrion

Dr Aiduan Borrion

Aiduan is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Circular Economy lab (CircEL) at UCL. CircEL is being established in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. She has over ten years’ experience in life cycle assessment (LCA). She’s performed and researched LCA for a wide range of applications in the engineering, design, packaging, consumer goods, and energy sectors. She contributed her LCA expertise to the £27m BBSRC sustainable bioenergy centre (BSBEC) and is currently leading LCA research in both UK- and EU-funded projects, including the €5.5m H2020 project on developing biofertiliser from biogas effluent, and the £4.4m Innovate UK project on solid state battery design. Aiduan also provides LCA consultancy services to a wide range of organisations. 

Dr Luca Petruccelli

Dr Luca Petruccelli

Luca has more than six years’ experience in LCA consultancy, producing environmental product declarations (EPDs) and LCAs for customers in a variety of industrial sectors (building, packaging, steel products). He’s experienced in managing multiple projects focused on the development of web-based software for streamlining LCA of products and processes, collecting data for GHG emission protocol, and CSR reporting. He’s currently Sustainability Team Leader at Vertech Group Line, managing and supporting a Team of six LCA specialist/engineers to ensure high quality modelling and reporting in LCA, social LCA and life cycle costing. He’s also overlooking the activities of about 30 projects, from EU Research Innovation Actions to Commercial activity at national (France Score LCAs) and international level.

Dr Isabela Butnar

Dr Isabela Butnar

Isabela is Senior Research Associate in Bioenergy Modelling at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. A chemical engineer by background, she has more than 15 years' experience in modelling environmental impacts associated with agricultural supply chains, both within academia and the industry. Her main expertise is LCA, which she applied and further developed for application to several sectors such as power generation, paper and pulp, food and beverage industries. Currently, she's leading the modelling of GHG emissions from land use and land use change associated with bioenergy value chains within the EPSRC SUPERGEN BIOENERGY Challenge project on Biomass Value Chains.

Andy Whyle

Andy Whyle

Andy is the Environment & Sustainability Specialist for Ricoh UK Products Limited (RPL), where he has worked for 30 years. As their sustainability practitioner he's the subject matter expert on the circular economy and social responsibility. RPL achieved zero waste to landfill in 2001 and has had a life cycle circular economy model in place since 1994. These initiatives have embedded their recycling and remanufacturing programs, and are major contributors to the organisation’s 2050 sustainability targets.

Dr Mairi Black

Dr Mairi Black

Mairi has combined academic and industrial experience of applications of agricultural and forestry materials for non-food uses. Over 20 years, this has incorporated LCA and sustainability of supply chains for biofuels, bioenergy and biorefineries to comply with developing UK and EU policy requirements. She’s worked on the issues associated with these developing industries and has put LCA and sustainability assessment of biofuel and biomass supply chains into practice in Europe, North and South America and Africa. She’s also developed and implemented bench-marking protocols for developing LCAs for cement, leather and textile industries and supply chains in Ethiopia. She’s currently engaged in projects which aim to assess and increase opportunities for rural energy access in Africa, based on biomass and waste based renewable energy technologies.

Carine Mueller

Carine Mueller

Carina has a background in environmental sciences and conservation biology. For four years she’s been working as an environmental sustainability scientist for a consumer goods company. Here she contributed to the application and methodological development of environmental LCA and sustainability assessments to guide decision-making within innovation, supply chain and marketing. Her main expertise is on biodiversity and ecosystem services affected by land use and land use change. Currently, she’s doing her PhD at the thinktank Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, looking at how novel data on transparency and traceability of supply chains can improve the understanding of the environmental sustainability of agricultural commodity consumption. 

Learner reviews

Previous participants have said:

"The course helped me acquire the skills to conduct my own calculations, and it also gave me practical examples of companies who had successfully implemented the circular economy concept." [Melissa Díaz Segura, Cooperativa Biklö, Costa Rica, 2016 participant]

"This is of great value in my work as policy consultant to provide objective and fact-based advice to policy-makers in Europe on controversial societal issues, where economics and environment always play important roles." [Jurgen Vermeulen, Trinomics, the Netherlands, 2016 participant]

"The course was very helpful as it not only provided a comprehensive overview of the LCA methodology but also covered its practical application and compared several database and software options. Although we mainly worked on a pre-selected case study provided by the instructors, we also had the chance to discuss our own projects with the instructors, which was very helpful. The course also provided the opportunity to learn about the diverse applications of LCA." [Luise Heinrich, PhD student, 2017 participant]

Course information last modified: 8 Dec 2023, 14:02