UCL Institute of the Americas


Natalia Koper

MSc International Relations of the Americas, 2015-16

Natalia Koper
UCL Americas provided me with the confidence and skills to advance my career in ways that I didn’t expect. I would strongly recommend this programme to anyone passionate about comparative politics, international relations, and human rights in the region.

The format of the courses invited me to take initiative in exploring the international relations of the Americas. Classes were designed around ambitious syllabi and in-class discussions that encouraged independent research. Then, at the end of the term, we had the chance to draw from the course and explore themes inspiring to us in the final papers. All professors at the Institute are very approachable, and I was grateful for their additional feedback, which helped me improve my writing and analytical skills.

Studying at UCL, in the heart of London, offers unparalleled opportunities. Outside the classroom, we were encouraged to attend mind-boggling events hosted by our Institute and other institutions: universities, embassies, and civil society groups. I enthusiastically participated in these academic events several times a week, as it was an extraordinary way to expand my interests, meet other academics in the field, and chat with them and my friends in an informal setting. Another aspect of UCL that I loved was access to some of the best library collections in the world. My friends and I spent most of the afternoons rotating between UCL libraries and study spaces, the Senate House, and the British Library, depending on our specific needs. Last but not by no means less important, UCL attracts students passionate about the Americas - this translated into evenings of engaging discussions and bonding over shared interests.

The absolute highlight of my degree was conducting fieldwork in Nicaragua, which later became the core of my dissertation and a recently published journal paper. It was thanks to this experience that I decided to pursue a career in law. Interviewing key stakeholders in the conflict over indigenous territories required maturity and resourcefulness that I hope to apply in the practice of law.

Fast-forward a few years, I am about to graduate with a dual Bachelor of Civil Law/Juris Doctor degree from McGill University. In 2022, I am planning to launch my career in a business law firm in Montreal.

Natalia completed her MSc in International Relations of the Americas in 2016. Her dissertation 'Indigenous cosmovision through the lens of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the light of the Awas Tingni case,' was awarded the International Relations of the Americas Dissertation Prize for the best dissertation on an IR topic for 2015-16. Encouraged by her thesis supervisor Dr Par Engstrom, she decided to turn her research findings into a journal article, published in 2021 in the Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies. Access to the published article in full here.