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LCA Practice & Reporting


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree between Leiden University and Delft University of Technology). MSc-IE students should have attended and successfully completed the ‘Analytical Methodologies and Tools (4413ANMT6Y)’ course or the course ‘Methods: Analysing Physical Processes (4413MAPPT)’. All participants are expected to have basic knowledge of environmental science and basic knowledge of matrix algebra.t

For students of the master’s programme Industrial Ecology that intend to do their Thesis Research Project on a topic which involves LCA or is closely related to LCA with a supervisor from CML, this course is mandatory.”


Life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the core methods of Industrial Ecology. It is a science- and evidence-based method for quantifying the environmental burdens and impacts related to the whole life cycle of a product or service system. LCA is and has been used to analyze and assess a wide variety of product/service systems, ranging from packaging materials to national waste management or energy scenarios, and from building materials to food products.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide sufficient scientific and practical skills to perform an attributional life cycle assessment study on your own. LCA is one of the core methods of IE and this course provides students with in-depth knowledge of this method.

After this course, students should be able to individually:

  • Draft a concise, to-the-point proposal for their own LCA research including a brief literature review and formulation of research questions

  • Critically evaluate the pros and cons of LCA

  • Gather, use and integrate data from multiple sources in the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) phase

  • Plan and individually perform a methodologically consistent and in-depth LCA study on a product system with a known (environmental) sustainability problem

  • Create and develop a proper LCA model in CMLCA

  • Present and analyze LCA-results, identify problems and propose solutions

  • Plan and monitor research

  • Report an LCA study and its findings transparently and comprehensively

  • Identify, justify and report LCA's key methodological assumptions and choices

  • Critically evaluate and discuss the possibilities and constraints of their LCA study


The course starts with two intensive theory weeks (half days). After this week students will perform their own LCA study. A minimum of 80% attendance is required for the theory week.
Note that this course is a first semester course but has its deadline in the first week of December, and not in January, because several other courses including TPM and SUSCH IE already have deadlines in January. Students should take this into account in their planning.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course starts with two intensive half-day ‘Theory Weeks’ (TWs) in September. Students should attend at least 80% of the classes of the Theory Week. After the TWs, students will first write a research proposal and directly after that, perform their own LCA study. During the period in which students are working on their LCA case study a one-day meeting will be organized in which students present their progress and preliminary results to fellow students and instructors, while receiving and providing valuable feedback for completing their research and report.

While performing their LCA research, students will have access to an online Q&A-forum through which they can discuss possible bottlenecks and exchange tips. The instructors will closely monitor the discussions and join when appropriate. In addition, weekly F2F Q&A sessions are organized.

The dates and timeslots for the TWs, Q&A sessions, and Presentations day will be communicated through MyTimeTable and Brightspace.

Assessment method

Assessment is based on a research proposal and the LCA case study report. In addition, there is a midterm submission of a draft CMLCA model and presentation of results that is mandatory for all students (pass-fail), but not graded.

### Weighing
The final grade is based on the research proposal (20%) and case study report including the LCA model developed with the CMLCA software (80%); the grade of case study report and CMLCA file together Final grades are expressed by means of a figure between 1 and 10, rounded to the nearest half. The grade 5.5 cannot be granted. Grades between 5.01 and 5.49 are rounded to 5.0 and grades between 5.50 and 5.99 are rounded to 6.0.should at least be 6.0 to pass the course.

There is no retake possibility for the research proposal, only for the case study report. Only if the grade of the case study report is lower than 5.5, students can do a retake of this report. Note, however, that retakes of case study reports are rewarded with a 6 maximum. Students that don’t make the deadline for the case study report and only submit a case study report for the retake will also receive a maximum grade of 6.

Inspection and feedback
Students receive extensive written feedback on their submitted proposals and final reports, which they can inspect and react on. For the final report, students can respond to up to 14 days after publication of the grade.

Reading list

Brightspace Leiden will be used for communications and distributing study material.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator(s): Jeroen Guinée, Bernhard Steubing and Carlos Felipe Blanco

Other involved teacher: Reinout Heijungs


MSc Industrial Ecology students can register for the course and exam via MystudyMap. Other students need to contact the study advisors of the programme via