Course overview

This module is designed to provide knowledge, understanding and capacity to undertake carbon footprinting (CF) and life cycle assessment (LCA) for professionals concerned with the sustainable and efficient management of land resources.

The key components of the global carbon cycle and greenhouse gas fluxes associated with agricultural production and the food and fibre supply chain will be reviewed. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of soils, ruminants, fertilizers, transport and energy consumption, with a focus on fluxes of CH4 and N2O as well as CO2. The range of international protocols for CF and challenge of determining appropriate emissions factors will be reviewed. The methods to identify emission hotspots within production and supply chains and to test alternative scenarios for their reduction will be addressed.

While concentrating on carbon and greenhouse gases, the coverage of LCA will also address the assessment of other key ecosystem services including regulation of water and air pollutants. Particular attention will be paid to the methods of assessment of the impacts of land use change.

Through lectures and structured learning with hands-on exercises and extensive on-line resources, the module will provide a theoretical and critical analysis of the practice and application of CF & LCA as key tools in assessing the environmental impact of land use systems

Participants will gain detailed understanding of core carbon foot printing methodologies, in particular International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) good practice accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, and wider life cycle assessment (LCA) principles. The module will draw on a range of farm system case studies and will involve hands-on experience with online CF tools.

This course is an optional module in the MSc in Food Security in a Changing Environment, and an optional module in the MSc Sustainable and Efficient Food Production.

It is delivered by Bangor University entirely online through distance learning.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe quantitatively the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental burdens arising from livestock production.
  • Describe the rational and procedures of carbon foot-printing and life cycle assessment (CF and LCA) showing knowledge of the main available tools.
  • Calculate carbon footprints for key stages of livestock production
  • Critically evaluate the results of freely available carbon footprinting tools.
  • Show a critical understanding of the application and role of CF & LCA in the improvement of the sustainability and efficiency of food production.
Additional Course Information

The module’s units consist of:

  • The role of Greenhouse Gases in climate change
  • An introduction to LCA and to CF
  • LCA and CF system boundaries for farms
  • Upstream processes 
  • Soil emissions
  • Animal husbandry emissions
  • Land use change and farm level CF
  • Allocation and consequential LCA
  • Wider impact categories
  • Practical application of CF

    Key facts

    Course Dates
    12 weeks
    Entry Requirements
    Graduate level or relevant experience
    IFST Membership
    Your course enrolment also entitles you to one year of free membership to the IFST (Institute of Food, Science and Technology).
    CQFW Level
    Course Provider
    Bangor University
    Provider Reference Number
    Course Arrangements
    Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
    Course Location
    Bangor University, Online
    AFTP Cohort
    Course Logistics
    Our distance learning modules are designed to be flexible and most of our participants work full time at the same time as studying for 10 to 15 hours per week, for each 20 credit module. Blocks of modules are delivered with start dates in January, May and September, with most modules offered once each year.
    My AFTP training course has given me greater confidence day-to-day and more insight into the impact of new techniques and technologies.
    Andy Russell - Fresh Produce Technologist, Bakkavor

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