This study explores conceptions of learning (SCL) and approaches to learning (SAL) of a group of Sri Lankan students studying accounting in an Australian university. The focus is on how cultural background and home country learning experiences shape SCL and SAL of these students. This research is based on the phenomenographic method, and semi-structured interviews are used for data collection. The results indicate that the interviewed students have lower-order conceptions of learning, and show characteristics of surface learning. Although the social approval motive was dominant in these students, it was not manifested in an achieving approach. Students in this study embrace the pedagogical tradition of the West, and engage in deep learning when they are exposed to research or practice-based assessments. Remnants from years of secondary education and aspects of a collectivist culture play a vital part in the ways in which these students perceive and approach learning. In addition, preconceptions of accounting as a vocation and a discipline strongly embedded in practice, drive learning conceptions and learning approaches.