Laying out your course in Moodle

Basic Moodle layout
Features of the Moodle course layout

The exemplar course

Basic Moodle layout

Moodle is laid out in a sequential manner and, as with reading, the student's attention is focused down the page, providing a logical sequence of events. This is not to say you can't jump around, but the flow of the material is obvious. So rather than a lecture note being placed in a folder with all other lectures, it should be placed within the week or topic to which it relates.

We have developed an exemplar course layout to demonstrate good practice in structuring courses and arranging content. We'll be looking at the features of this layout today, then working through our practice course to structure it in a similar way.

Features of the Moodle course layout


The Moodle course page is divided into three columns: the topic outline column in the centre, and the two block columns on the left and right.

Blocks appear in the left and right hand columns of your Moodle course page, and give you and your students access to useful Moodle features. You can choose which Blocks you want to appear in your course, and in which order you want them to be. It is a good idea to turn off Blocks you don't want your students accessing, and move the most important ones to a more prominent position. However there are some blocks, such as the Administration and Navigation blocks, that are permanent for consistency across courses and cannot be deleted or moved.

A quick navigation bar (top in blue) is provided to help students quickly access various parts of Moodle, such as their enrolled classes, profile and messaging pages, as well as support forums and guides.

Course Shell View Layout

Main course area

The main body of your course consists of the Title/Introduction section (topic 0) and topics. Within both the Introductory section and each topic section you can add text and pictures in the Summary of the topic.

We recommend that in topic 0 – which we will hereafter refer to as the Course area – you put general course related information, for example the Course Description, General forums, and assessment information. We also recommend that you include a heading for the course and sufficient spacing, sub-headings and indentation to make it easy for your students to orient themselves and find what they need.

Regardless of the view that the student chooses, the Course area is always visible. For this reason, do not fill it with unnecessary items. Limit the use of graphical material here as well, as it forces the user to scroll further down the page to access information.

Course resources

Topics / Weeks

In each Topic or Week we recommend that you add all the material relevant to that topic or week, such as lecture notes or presentations, readings, topic forums and revision quizzes, preferably in the order in which you want students to work through the material. If you are using Topics instead of Weeks we recommend that you include a heading for that topic – such as the title of the topic or the week.

Tip: By using the topic setting and giving it generic week headings – e.g. week 1, week 2 etc you can use the same course with different groups beginning at different times. Also you may choose to run the same topic over a couple of weeks. Using the topic setting rather than the week setting gives you that flexibility.

Highlighted topic

Single topic view

If you want your topic sections to collapse down to improve the ability of students to quickly navigate to content then use the single topic view function.


Single Topic View

Turning on single topic view:

  1. In the 'Administration' panel, click 'Edit Settings'
  2. Scroll down to 'Course Layout' and choose 'Show one section per page' from the dropdown menu.
  3. Click 'Save Changes' at the bottom of the page

Course Single View

By default Moodle courses should be set to single topic view in Course layout showing one section per page.

If you want learning design assistance in setting up your course, please request support through the ITS Service Desk portal.