Course formats

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A course format refers to the layout of a course. The course format can be selected in Administration > Course administration > Edit settings.

An administrator can enable, disable or delete course formats for courses in Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Course formats > Manage course formats. They can also change the order in which available course formats are displayed to teachers in the course settings.

Manage course formats screen for admins

Standard course formats

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Topics format

Topic format example
The course is organised into topic sections that a teacher can give titles to. Each topic section consists of activities, resources and labels.

TIP: This is great to use if your course is objective based and each objective may take different amounts of time to complete. An example of this would be scaffolding where the students are building upon the knowledge from earlier topics.

"Show only one section"

With the Weekly, Topics and any contributed format that implements the functionalty, it is possible via Administration > Course administration > Edit settings to "show one section per page". Here is a course with eight topics, with the third one currently shown. The links left and right lead to topics two and four:

Single section page


  • The course home page shows just the section names and any text in the section description along with activity and resource numbers, with the names being click-able. This is what you see the first time you access the course. Once you have selected a topic by clicking on its name, you then see one section at a time.
  • If editing is ON, then the Main course page will display all the content in all the sections.
  • There is a 'Jump to...' menu at the bottom of each single section page (new in 2.5 onwards).

Social format

This format is oriented around one main forum,the social forum, which appears listed on the main page. It is useful for situations that are more free form. They may not even be courses. The Moodle Lounge is an example of a social format course.

Social format example - click to enlarge

New feature
in Moodle 3.6!

When selecting the social format, it is possible to specify how many discussions you wish to display on the course page:


The social forum can be edited by clicking the 'Update this forum' button on the social forum page. The forum introduction is displayed at the top of the course page. Activities and resources can be added on the side by using the Social activities block.

Single activity format

The single activity format only has 1 section, and allows the teacher to add one activity only to the course. When the single activity format is selected, a drop down menu appears for the teacher to choose the activity they wish to use. See the "See also" section below for a screencast and working example of the single activity course format.

Selecting the Single activity format

Note: This course format replaces the SCORM format in earlier versions of Moodle, as it is possible here to select a SCORM package as the single activity.

Single activity format with a forum as the activity and social format are very similar. The only difference is when the course contains other activities. The single activity format displays them as "orphaned" and for teachers only; the social format displays them in an activities block and available for students.

Contributed Course Formats

The Moodle community has developed a number of course formats, available in the plugins directory. If you plan to create a new one, see Developers documentation.

See MDL-27646 and MDL-28555 and maybe the discussion

Collapsed Topics

This is a format that is essentially the same as the standard Topic and Weekly formats but with a 'toggle' for each section except '0'. The toggles' purpose is to reduce the amount of initial information presented to the user thus reducing the 'scroll of death' that can plague courses with a lot of content. The 'state' of the toggles is remembered on a per course per user basis. For more information, please visit Collapsed_Topics_course_format.


For an overview of 'Collapsed Topics' please see this video:


Daily format

The daily format is a modification of the weekly format that shows sections by day rather than by week.

Grid format

The grid format is a modular and visual course format. Hides all topics and creates a grid of icons (one for each topic) with short titles. Clicking on an icon brings up the content from the corresponding topic in a "lightbox" style display.

Menutopic format

The menutopic format allows you to display the topics/sections in a menu.

Noticeboard format

The Noticeboard format presents the latest post in the news forum at the top of the course.

Onetopic format

The onetopic format shows each topic in a tab, keeping the current tab between calls to resources, in such a way that when it returns from a module as the blog or the glossary it returns to tab from where you started. This format is based on the Moodle standard format: “Topics”.

Topic format (colors)

The colored topic format is based on the 'Topics' standard format and allows a teacher to specify the foreground and background colours for each course section.

Flexible sections format

The flexible sections format for Moodle 2.4+ allows to have nested sections and each section may be displayed expanded (with all content on the parent section page) or collapsed (as a link to a separate page)

Other contributed course formats are available from the modules and plugins database.

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: