The term curriculum is familiar in school education, but more ambiguous in its usage in a higher education context. Although it is frequently used in academic staff discussions, policy and planning documents, and to describe advisory bodies, its usage is inconsistent and multifarious. This article reports a phenomenographic study of the ways in which academics conceive of the curriculum in higher education. It examines the variation in perceptions of curriculum, which is critiqued through the work of school curriculum theorists, who utilise Habermas's theory of knowledge-constitutive interests. The intention of this article is to explore the epistemologies and assumptions that underpin these conceptions, in order to promote an inclusive and shared vocabulary as a basis for curriculum development.