Despite national requirements for accredited teaching qualifications, there is a lack of literature on disciplinary differences in student learning in higher education. Academics at a UK research-intensive university were asked to report on the existence of literature or knowledge concerned with how students learnt in their subject. No relevant literature or folklore was identified, but responses did demonstrate a discourse in which the academics constructed their discipline as ‘better’ than other disciplines: the finding with which the present article is concerned. The discourse of the distinctiveness and superiority of one’s own discipline can be understood as a form of ‘Orientalism’. A post-colonial analysis of the discourse of disciplinary relationships offers a partial explanation for challenges made to the validity of cross-university activities, such as postgraduate certificates in learning and teaching.