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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.3. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Metacourse.

A meta course is a course that is "with" or linked to one or more courses for its student enrolment (enrollment to some). Adding or subtracting participants in a metacourse can only be done from the courses it is linked to. The linked courses push enrolment information to the metacourse(s) every time cron is run.


Metacourse enrolments occur only through another course that the meta course links to (in many versions of Moodle these are refered to as child courses). This means that students cannot enroll in the meta course directly. Likewise, teachers and administrators cannot enroll students directly into meta courses either.

In the simplest form, a linked course only needs to contain just the Students who are to be enrolled in a metacourse. There do not need to be resources, assignments, or wikis, etc., just the Students in the linked course. In the simplest form, the metacourse cannot contain Students, but will have resources, assignments, wikis, etc.

Created - a child course and a meta course.
Associating one child course and one meta course.
Examples: one "child" course (a course linked to a metacourse) can be associated with many meta courses. Or one meta course can have many child courses associated with it. Both the child courses (non-meta courses) and the meta courses are independent and can be recycled many times, that is, each can be associated with many of the other. However, child courses cannot be associated with other child courses and meta courses cannot be associated with other meta courses.
2 child courses and a meta course.
1 child course and 2 meta courses.
3 child courses and 2 meta courses.

Creating a meta course

Create a meta course in the same manner as you do any other course. To change this to a meta course, set "Is this a meta course?" question to yes in the course settings.

Changing the setting.

Manage "child" courses

Once you have created a meta course you can link to or unlink from (add or delete) "child" courses by the course Administration menu. This icon and link only appears in meta courses.

Metacourse children.png

Click this link and it will take you to the Child Courses dialogue that offers a list of "child courses" to choose from. You will note that only courses eligible to be child courses appear in this window.

Select screen, one course has been selected so far.

It is here that you can associate more courses for this one meta course to get it's enrolments. Alternatively, if you wish to associate one child course with many meta courses, you need to go into each meta course and, using this same technique, associate that child course to a each meta course.

Note: Do not be misled by the term "Child Courses". You are associating courses that the meta course will be dependent upon for its students.

In Moodle 1.5 and 1.6, if a meta course is chosen, the students page changes from listing/searching for students to listing/searching for courses. In Moodle 1.7 onwards, "parent courses" appears in the teacher's administration block.

Graphic Meta course examples

1 course that gets its enrolment from 4 other courses

X is a meta course and Courses 1, 2, 3, 4 can be normal courses with standard student enrolments. These courses can contain resources, and activities that are specific to those courses, but they may also only contain enrolments. Students enrolling in Courses 1 or 2, or 3 or 4, are automatically enrolled onto Meta course X when the course is associated as a child course to Meta course X. The meta course is dependent upon its enrolments from each of the non-meta courses, the child courses.

Standard Meta course usage

For example, a math teacher has 2 algebra and 2 geometry courses and wants a "home room" to place things of interest for all of their students. The teacher creates a meta course called "Teacher's home room" and links the algebra and geometry courses as the "child" courses.

1 course that sends its enrolments to 4 other courses

Meta courses 1-4 each have created a "child" link to Y which is a normal course. Students enrolling on Course Y are automatically enrolled in Meta courses 1-4.

Upsidedown Meta course Usage

For example: this would be used, when all five courses are intended to have exactly the same students.

More example uses

Here are some more scenarios of meta courses. They should also help you to understand how they work with student enrolments.

Meta course(s) used as libraries

One or more meta courses are used as a library of resources and activities.

For example, the English department has collected material useful in writing papers, these are set up as meta courses, with links to their regular courses. Teachers can direct or embed a link to a specific reference about citations, or how to select a topic for a paper or suggested reading compiled by students. Thus an English 101 course should be one of the links in the "Writing Papers" meta course. This Meta course holds a resource called "Citations made easy", a Lesson "Select a topic" and a Wiki or database called "Suggested readings from classmates".

A Diploma course sends its enrolment to meta courses

A Diploma program involves courses D1, D2, D3, and D4. In this case, you would create a "Diploma" course as a normal course (non-meta course). You would then designate programs D1 through D4 as meta courses and each would show the Diploma course as the "child" course. When a student enrolls in "Diploma", he or she will be automatically enrolled in courses D1 through D4.

Core subjects with fees based upon course groupings

You have 3 course subjects and want to offer them for sale in different packages. The meta courses will contain your subjects. A normal (non-Meta course) course will be the gateways to the meta course(s). Course 1 is your gold package. Meta course A, Meta course B and Meta course C all link to Course 1. The silver package is Course 2. Meta courses A and B link to Course 2. You have also set up individual courses that have a link from a specific Meta Course to them. Thus you can offer and charge for each meta course separately or in some combination.

One course, different student fees

You have one "Wizbang" course but want to charge a different rate based upon the type of user. The "Wizbang" meta course is the one that holds the content. You create a courses for "Wizbang for Large Corporation users" and "Wizbang for Small Business users". The Wizbang meta course is linked to "Introduction to Wizbang for Large Corporation users" and "Introduction to Wizbang for Small Business users" courses. You can charge a different fee for the non-meta courses, maybe brand or put some unique material in each "Introduction" course but the students will be able to take the same "Wizbang" course.

Tips and Tricks

Draw a map of your courses

Get an oversized piece of paper (A3 or 11"x17'), draw boxes for courses and give them names. Add lines to connect the boxes to show relationships. Label the meta courses (alternatively, color the meta course boxes). Add arrows to the lines so you will know where enrolments come from. This is a great tip from the Business Uses forum.

Groups do not transfer

Meta course enrolments do not transfer groups from the and enrolment does not happen immediately, but occurs next time the cronjob runs.

Transfer of roles

By default all role assignments from child courses are synchronised to meta courses. However, the "Roles that are not synchronised to metacourses" setting in Administration > Users > Permissions > User policies enables administrators to exclude particular roles.

Restoring a meta course

When restoring a meta course with the option "deleting the course first", you will notice that the enrolments that were used by the course previously are now gone. In order to re-link the course, navigate to the new course and select the link "Child Courses" from the "Administration" block on the main course page and re-link the course to its parent.

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: