Purpose – While the natural expectation is that students seek greater depth of learning as they develop intellectually during their studies, some research calls this into question and even suggests that student learning can become shallower from year to year. The present study aims to investigate the relative depth of students' learning at different stages of their undergraduate studies by comparing second-year with third-year students in two statistics units. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted using Biggs's Study Process Questionnaire. The survey results were used to compare second- and third-year groups, as well as to investigate other variables by comparing the performances of: international and domestic students, male and female students, students who worked and those who did not work, and students who intended to register for a higher degree and those who did not. Findings – Significant differences in approaches were found between male and female students; and between students who intended to enrol in a higher degree and those who did not. Research limitations/implications – Characteristics of the learning and teaching environment, including quality of teaching, were not investigated in this study. These and the possibility of students' mixed approaches to learning depending on the unit of study might have significant impact on the results. Additionally, this study is specific to one Sydney university; therefore the results might not be generalisable. Originality/value – The findings from this study provide evidence that there is no significant difference between second and third year; or in international and local students' approaches to learning in statistics.