Case study

How research set Tracey on the right path

Tracey Lukaza joined our Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme because she wanted to be more involved with the University. She left it knowing absolutely the path she wanted to travel – international criminal law.

Why the URSS?

Tracey first joined the University during the Covid-19 pandemic which, for obvious reasons, made it difficult for her to get involved in activities throughout the University. When face-to-face teaching came back into play, Tracey didn’t hesitate at any chance to get involved. She says: “In second year when I got the email, I was like ‘oh this is my opportunity’. But it wasn’t just a random thing, it was something that I would be interested in.”

Tracey was really excited to start, but first, she needed to find a supervisor. She says: “It wasn't difficult to find a supervisor because my supervisor was actually one of my lecturers before, and so he was the one that taught us about the international criminal court - so I thought it was ideal for me to go to him.”

Muin Boase, Senior Lecturer in Law, had previously been Tracey’s personal tutor in her first year, so their relationship was already quite strong. 

Researching war

The title of Tracey’s research is ‘Crimes of aggression: a possible road to accountability’. She focused on the war between Ukraine and Russia to look at how the international community worked, specifically how the International Criminal Court operates.

She explains: “My main focus is how it's the jurisdiction of the international criminal court and how power plays into it because that's mainly the problem, power in the international criminal court.”

Tracey chose to focus on the Ukraine and Russian war specifically to help people understand more about that, as it was all over social media at the time. However, it wasn’t easy for Tracey to find a solution.

She says: “In the beginning, I thought that I would have an answer for my research. I thought when I do the research, at the end, my conclusion will just be perfect. That's what I thought and then towards the end, I realised that wasn’t the case.”

Despite this, it has taught Tracey to become more open-minded with her solutions and answers. She now has the option to publish her work outside of the University. 

Developing her skills

The URSS gives students the opportunity to learn new skills that will help them later on in their career but will also help them in completing their degree.

Tracey explains: “I would say I have improved my research skills in terms of critical analysis, where I got a chance to engage a lot more. I feel like I can now engage my own thoughts and opinions and just agree with experts and authors or agree to disagree, so that's something that I was able to do in the research confidently just because I knew a lot more about the topic.”

Confirming her career path

When Tracey joined the University, she had a vague plan for her career path – she just wanted to save the world, with international relations and law as the foundation. Through studying different modules, she learnt how the International Community worked. But this wasn’t specific enough for Tracey.

The URSS gave Tracey the opportunity to choose the focus of her research project and to fill this gap in her knowledge. She says: “I'm confident in saying that I am interested in international criminal law and I would like to learn more about it – and most definitely still save the world.”

Watch Tracey's URSS Conference presentation: 'Crimes of aggression: a possible road to accountability'