This case study aims to provide researchers who are interested in developing international research projects with some practical advice in terms of research design and implementation. This case study centres on a transnational higher education research project that occurred in 2014. This study sought to engage faculty members in both the United Kingdom and China, who deliver Sino-British ‘joint programme’ partnerships. This study aimed to understand how the operational activities of faculty members tasked with delivering these partnerships, affected the development of social relationships. As trade in overseas higher education increases, how these relationships develop is important, particularly if transnational higher education partnerships are to survive and generate value over time.