This in-depth, qualitative study examines perceptions of the learning approach that students receiving their higher education in the medium of English language adopt, factors that influence students to adopt a particular learning approach, and which approach tends to be more effective in terms of learning outcome. First and final-year students (n=151) responded to a survey questionnaire. Furthermore, interviews were held with volunteering students (n=48). Students’ responses indicated a tendency towards surface learning during the first-year and a mixture of surface and meaningful learning during the final-year. Various factors were identified affecting the students’ adoption of an approach. Deeper learning was achieved through the use of a strategic learning approach by the students’ jointly constructing disciplinary knowledge. Suggestions are proposed to promote students’ achievement of more effective learning of their disciplinary knowledge.