This paper presents a research project that charts the complex development of engagement and professional identities in a group of international students (including British students) on an MSc course in Engineering. A detailed picture of the diversity of students' social, cultural and educational backgrounds at entry is placed against the development of students' own sense of what it means to be an Engineer in an international context. The case study was initiated by a concern for summative assessment outcomes in a number of the modules which were producing a notable bipolar marks distribution in students' final assessments. Students were either achieving highly in the module or clearly demonstrating an inability to work with the concepts and ideas of the module. The aim of the research was to investigate the detail and the nature of this outcome following the introduction of an intensified focus on tutors' own research, amongst other innovations. Through survey, observation and interview data the case study focuses on the sociocultural background to learning in Engineering and presents a qualitative finegrained picture of how students build their competences and identities as professional Engineers through engagement with their tutors and their tutors' own research. The initial data on the backgrounds of students presented a fascinating picture of the effects of internationalisation on the composition of student groups in Higher Education. Through the student interviews a picture of students constructing both their competences and identities emerged. The research presented to them by their tutors and that they engaged in themselves as part of the course was seen to be a significant factor in their learning and one that distinguished their learning experience in the UK from their previous learning. Students also placed emphasis on the social and personal factors that both supported them in their learning and motivated them to become Engineers in the first instance. Furthermore, early analysis of students' summative assessments indicated that there was a clear impact upon the proportion of students who had made a transition between weak engagement and failure and there was a growing engagement and achievement of threshold performance.