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Course formats

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

Weekly format

Weekly format example

The course is organized week by week, with each section having a date heading. Moodle will create a section for each week of your course. You can add content, forums, quizzes, and so on in the section for each week. The current week is highlighted.

TIP: If you want all your students to work on the same materials at the same time, this would be a good format to choose.
NOTE: Make sure your course start date is correct. If it is not your weeks will have the wrong date on it. This is especially important if you are restoring a course to use with a new section of students.

If you have students starting the course at different times, you can use the feature Course relative dates to display dates for each course section relative to the student’s start date in the course.

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. In new installations of Moodle, this is the default format.

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

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.

Social format example – click to enlarge

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

Buttons course format

The Buttons course format creates a menu with buttons in JavaScript to access the sections, one by one. It has features to create group of sections (example: modules, period) and change the button colors. For more information, please visit Buttons course format.

Buttons course format 9 buttons section 2.png

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.

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