Despite recent research, doctoral pedagogy remains something of a 'black box'. This article explores the 'mysterious activity' (Green, 2005, p. 151) which transforms research apprentices into licensed scholars by drawing on longitudinal interviews with six graduate students who travelled to Australia to undertake doctoral study. The article first discusses difficulties associated with the term "international students". It then argues that, given the economic benefits to Australian universities of participation by increasing numbers of international students (Bullen & Kenway, 2003), attention needs to be paid to the quality of students' learning experiences. The article also incorporates the author's dual perspectives as full-time doctoral student/researcher and experienced academic. The findings suggest that effective doctoral pedagogy is based on a mutually respectful relationship between student and supervisor supported by a flexible learning structure which enables modelling of scholarly practices and opportunities for scaffolded participation and reflection. However, as good doctoral pedagogy cannot be guaranteed, PhD students need to develop sufficient understanding of the doctoral endeavour to enable them to manage their own learning.