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Important Settings for your Moodle Course

The Quick Settings block provides easy access to the most frequently used course settings. More settings for your course are found on the Edit course settings page.

The Quick Settings Block

Screenshot of the Quick settings blockThe Quick Settings block is added by default to new courses, but you can also add the block to any course. The block provides an easy way to check, and to change, the most important settings for your course:

  • Course availability for students
  • Gradebook visibility to students
  • Number of visible course Sections

The block also includes both a link to the Edit Dates report, where you can change due dates or release dates for multiple activities at once, and a link to the full Edit Course Settings page (see below).

Note: Editing does not need to be turned on to use this block. The block is hidden from Students and shows only for Teachers and Course Designers.

Edit Course Settings

To edit course settings:

  1. Open your Moodle course. From the main course page, locate the Administration block.
    Note: By default, the Administration block is located in the left column of a three column course layout.
  2. In the Administration block, under Course administration, click Edit settings. The Edit course settings page opens.
  3. On the Edit course settings page, you will see a list of options for your course.  Click particular headings to view those settings, or Expand all (top right) to view all settings. Some frequently used settings:
    • Hide or show the course to students (General heading).
    • Format the course sections to collapse or stay open (Course format heading).
    • Choose whether to show all course sections on one long page, or show each section on a separate page (Course format heading).
    • Choose a visual style (Appearance heading).
    • Make grades visible to students (Appearance heading).
  4. Once you have set the course options, click Save changes at the bottom of the page.

Course Settings Details

Click particular headings to view those settings, or Expand all (top right) to view all settings. The most important options are starred (*) in the list below:


  • Course full name*
    The Course full name appears in the banner at the very top of your Moodle course page and in the My courses block. You may want to edit the automatically generated course name for readability.
  • Course short name

    The Course short name (dept-number-section-semester) cannot be changed. It appears as a link in the Navigation block, under My courses.

  • Visibility to students*
    Moodle courses are hidden from students when created and automatically released to students three days prior to the beginning of the semester. Instructors can use this setting to hide or show a course outside of the institutional schedule. For more, see Make Your Moodle Course Available to Students.
  • Course start date
    This setting affects names of Sections when the Weekly course format is used. For example, if you choose January 20th as your start date, the first Section will be named January 20 - January 26.

General settings(click to expand)


  • Course summary
    The summary is imported from SPIRE. You may edit it, but we suggest you keep it short. Note that students are unlikely to see this summary as it appears only on the course listings page for the entire Moodle site. 
  • Course summary files
    You may upload an image to be included with your course summary. 

Description settings(click to expand)  

Course Format

  • Format*
    Choose a Format to determine how Sections will behave on your course page:

    — Collapsed Topics (Default)
    Allows individual users to expand and collapse the course Sections. This format avoids the need to scroll down a very long page to access the bottom sections of a course. By default, sections are named Topic 1, Topic 2, Topic 3, etc. We recommend giving the sections more informative names (from your course page, turn editing on and click the Update icon at the top of each section).

    — Weekly format
    Organizes course Sections by week, with a clear start and finish date. Moodle creates and names a section for each week of your course (see Number of weeks/topics below, to control the number of weeks). The sections do not collapse and are always open.
    Note: If using the Weekly format, make sure your course start date is correct or Sections will be named with the wrong dates. This is especially important if you are reusing a course from a previous semester (See Course start date, below).

    — Topics format
    Course Sections do not collapse and are always open. By default, sections are named Topic 1, Topic 2, Topic 3, etc. We recommend giving the sections more informative names (from your course page, turn editing on and click the Update icon at the top of each section). 

    — Social format —
    The entire course consists of one discussion forum, with no option to add additional activities or resources.
  • Number of sections
    Determines the number of Sections your course will have. You can increase or decrease this number at any time.
  • Hidden sections
    Controls how hidden Topic or Weekly Sections in your course display to students. The default, Hidden sections are shown in collapsed form, displays the names for hidden Topics or Weeks (grayed-out), but hides any activities and resources within the section. You also have the option to make a hidden section completely invisible to students.
  • Course Layout
    This setting determines whether the whole course is displayed on one page or split over several pages. 

Course format settings(click to expand)  


  • Force Theme*
    Choose from among several visual designs and color schemes for your course. For details, see A Guide to Moodle Themes.
    Note: If set to Do not force, your course will use the theme from the Moodle at UMass Amherst entry page. 
  • Force language
    Presently there is only one Language Pack (US English) available in Moodle.
  • News items to show
    This setting controls how many News forum posts show on the Latest news block. If set to 0, the Latest news block will not appear.
  • Show gradebook to students *
    By default, when an activity has been graded, each student can see their own grade on the Grades page. If you do not want to use grades in a course, or wish to hide the Gradebook from students, set this option to No. The instructor will still be able to use the gradebook.
    Note: Even if the Gradebook is not available to students, depending on the activity settings, students may still be able to view grades from within an activity itself. For more, see An Overview of the Moodle Gradebook.
  • Show activity reports
    Activity reports list students' activity and contributions to the current course, including their detailed access log.
    Instructors always have access to these reports. Setting this option to Yes will allow students to view their own reports.

Appearance settings​​(click to expand)

Files and uploads

  • Legacy course files
    Allows instructors to import a Moodle course built in an older version of Moodle.
  • Maximum upload size
    Determines the largest size of a single file that can be uploaded in the course. Teachers can further limit the file size for uploads within each activity. If your students will be submitting large files (e.g. videos, Powerpoints or large PDFs), be sure to set the maximum both here and in the Assignment settings.

Completion Tracking

  • Enable completion tracking
    If set to Yesyou and your students can track progress using check boxes next to required activities in course Sections. Within each activity's settings you will have the option to let students check the boxes when they have completed an activity, or to set the box to be checked automatically when an activity is submitted or graded.

​​Guest access

  • Allow guest access
    Instructors can create a password to share with colleagues they want to be able to access their course. Guests have limited abilities. They can view content, but cannot participate in activities, view student contributions to the course, or see grades or rosters. For more information, see Roles in Moodle.


  • Group mode
    Sets the default behavior for group activities in the course. The options are No groups, Separate groups (students only see and contribute to their own group's activities), or Visible groups (students can contribute to their own group's activities, and they can view all groups' contributions). Individual activities can be set to different Group modes than the course overall.
  • Force group mode
    This setting will apply the Group mode set above to all activities, and cause settings made at the activity level to be ignored. For more on using groups, see An Overview of Managing Groups in Moodle.