Course Layout

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. For example, 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. 


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. By default most useful blocks such as the calendar block are displayed.

Blocks can also be docked to the left hand side of the screen by clicking the blue icon in the top right hand corner of a block. Docking blocks only affects your own view.

Course Layout example


Main course area

The main body of your course consists of the Title/General section (topic 0) and topics. Within both the General 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 Layout example



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. 


Course Layout Screenshot


The exemplar course

An exemplar course has been created in Moodle to provide an example of a clear and well structured way to set up a course in Moodle. 

To access this course browse the list of courses to find the Moodle exemplar course in the Training category.

To enrol yourself in this course, use the enrolment key EXM09. You will be enrolled as a student so will not be able to see the settings behind the activities and resources, however the rest of these. How to support pages will take you step-by-step through setting up activities and resources. 

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

For more information on using Moodle see the How to Guides.