Course settings
  • 28 Nov 2023
  • 8 minutes to read

Course settings

Article summary

Course page settings control how a course behaves in terms of, for example, enrolments, availability, file upload restrictions, course name. It is the first page viewed after creating a course.

Course page settings can be edited through the Edit settings option on the Course administration menu or directly from the course categories page by clicking on the editing icon next to the course name.

On the settings page, mandatory fields are indicated by a red asterisk.



Course full name

This is the name that is displayed on the top header of every page in your course and also on the course listings page. The name should be descriptive enough so learners can easily identify the course in which they are working.

The course full name does not have to be unique across your Totara site, allowing you to reuse course names/titles if required.

Course short name

Enter the institutional shorthand for your course. The short name also appears in the navigation bar at the top of the page. 

This can be the same as your course full name, however must be unique across your site.

Course category

Your Totara administrator may have set up several course categories. For example; 'IT', 'Managing People', 'Health and Safety', etc.

A course can only belong to one category.

Course type

Select from; E-learning, Blended or Seminar.

This is used to help search the catalogue but does not control what activities are available in the course page.

Course start date

This setting determines the start of the first week for a course in weekly format. It also determines the earliest date that logs of course activities are available.

If the course is reset and the course start date changed, all dates in the course will be moved in relation to the new start date.

Course end date

Optionally set an end date for the course.

This field can be disabled by default in the course default settings page.

This will not remove users from the course but the course will not be listed in their current learning list after this date.

Course ID number

The course ID number is used to provide a link between Totara and your organisation's backend data systems. Most HR or training management systems have a unique identifier for each course. Totara has its own unique identifier, which will be different from the external/ HR system.

This field is used by Totara to store the external system's unique ID so Totara will know which course the external system is talking about when synchronising courses and enrolments.

Mobile-friendly course
Set this setting to Yes to indicate that the course is suitable to be accessed and completed via the Totara Mobile app.
Changing this setting does not change the course content to display appropriately on mobile devices. When marking a course as mobile-friendly you should check that course content (such as SCORM activities) displays correctly in the mobile app.



Course summary

The summary appears in the course listings page. Use the dropdown field to select your formatting option:

  • Totara auto-format
  • HTML format
  • Plain text format
  • Markdown format

Only users with the moodle/course:changesummary capability are able to edit the course summary.

A concise one-paragraph summary will help communicate the essence of your course to your learners. 

A longer description can provide detail on what a learner will learn over the course of the training and what will be expected from them to successfully complete the course.

Course summary files

Course summary files are the supplementary files or images required to describe or detail the course. 

Only users with the moodle/course:changesummary capability are able to upload or change course summary files. If course summary files are disabled by a Site Administrator then this box will not appear.

Course summary files are not displayed in the catalogue.

By default only .jpg, .gif and .png files are allowed, but Site Administrators can change the allowed file types by navigating to Quick-access menu > Courses and categories > Course settings and changing the Course summary files extensions setting.

Course format



Totara Learn provides several options for the general format of a course. Select from the following course formats:

  • Single activity format: A course comprising a single activity. Select the Type of activity from the dropdown list.
  • Topics format: Organise your course materials conceptually by topic. You will need to set the number of sections, how hidden sections are displayed, and whether you want each section to have its own page or have all sections displayed on one page. You can optionally enable collapsible sections and select a header colour.
  • Weekly format: Order your course materials chronologically by week. Check the course start date, and set the number of sections (i.e. the number of weeks the course will run).
  • Pathway format: Learners are presented with one activity or resource at a time, and are encouraged to progress through the course sequentially. Learners can see their progress at a glance in the side navigation panel.

Course managers can change the course format at any time.

Number of sections

Use this to set the number of sections your course will have. If you need to change this later, you can.

Increasing the number results in sections being added to the bottom of your course page; reducing the number results in sections being removed from the bottom of your course page, and any content in them hidden.

Hidden sections

When you hide an upcoming topic section to prevent your Learners from jumping ahead, you can choose to display the title as a collapsed section or simply hide the topic altogether. Displaying the collapsed sections gives your Learners a road map of the upcoming topics or weeks, so it’s probably a good idea to leave this on the default setting.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Course layout

Determines whether the whole course is displayed on one page or split over several pages.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Collapsible sections

Check this box to allow users to collapse and expand sections of the course. 

This can be useful if you have a long course with a large number of sections, making it easier for users to navigate.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Include an expand/collapse all link

Check this box to include an Expand all or Collapse all link at the top of the course. This allows users to expand or collapse all sections in a course with a single click.

This setting requires Collapsible sections to be enabled.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Header colour

Check this box to select a Header background colour and Header text colour for the course sections.

If this box is not checked the course section headers will use your site's default theme colours.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Header background colour

Use the colour picker or enter a hex code to select the background colour of all section headers in the course.

This setting is not available when using the Pathway course format.

Header text colour

Use the colour picker or enter a hex code to select the text colour for all section headers in the course.




Current icon

Choose an icon to represent your course from the dropdown menu.

A course icon will display in a list of courses within a block, when added to a custom report or when added as a display option within the Course catalogue.

Add new icons via Courses > Custom icons in the quick-access menu.

Graphic files will be resized to 35 x 35 pixels automatically.


Choose an image to associate with the course. Consider the following when selecting images:

  • Course images will be automatically resized so use a square image and be aware that it's likely to be cropped vertically or horizontally on different pages.
  • Use web-optimised files such as .svg .png or .jpg. This will help ensure better page loading times and efficient mobile data usage for any mobile user.
  • Avoid adding text or use no more than three words and consider how readable it will be when scaled down.
  • Avoid heavy files and instead look for the right balance between image quality and file size, e.g. 400 x 400 pixel image, under 50kb in size.

This image will become the background image if you set up this course as a course tile in a Featured link block and the course image used within the catalogue.

Force language

Select the language for the course.

This ignores any user language preferences and changes all standard navigation and in-built text.

Number of announcements

Use this setting to determine the number of course news items displayed on the course page.

Announcements are created within the News forum.

If this setting is set to zero, the announcements forum will not be created (new course) or will be removed (existing course).

Show gradebook to learners

This setting allows you to select whether learners can see the gradebook. If set to No, it doesn’t stop instructors from recording grades, but simply prevents the learners from seeing them.


Show activity reports

Activity reports are available for each participant that shows their activity in the course. As well as listings of their contributions, such as forum posts or assignment submissions, these reports also include access logs. This setting determines whether a learner can view their activity reports via their profile page.


Files and uploads


Maximum upload size

This setting limits the size of files you or your learners upload to the course. Your Site Administrator sets the maximum size for the system, but you can choose to make the limit smaller than the system maximum. You can also further limit the size of files that your learners upload as assignment submissions and for other activities.


Completion tracking


Enable completion tracking

If enabled, activity completion conditions may be set in the activity settings and/or course completion conditions may be set.


Mark as in progress on first view

The course completion record for the user marked as in progress when the user views the course rather than when the first course completion criterion is met.


Due date

Set the date by which each learner is expected to complete the course. They will then be sent notifications to help keep them engaged and remind them to complete the course by this date. The following options are available:

  • None: Default state where no date is set.
  • Relative date: An individual date for each learner based on course completion tracking. For example, if the relative due date is set to 7 days and a user is enrolled at 10:20am on 05/09/2022, the due date will be exactly 7 days from the enrolment date (10:20am on 12/09/2022).
  • Fixed date: A single due date for all learners, e.g. 1 December.

See Course due dates for more information on when notifications relating to due dates will be sent.

Due date notifications are handled with the centralised notifications system. You can configure notifications for the Course due date trigger at the site level (Quick-access menu > Notifications) or for an individual course (Course administration > Notifications)

© Copyright 2024 Totara Learning Solutions. All rights reserved. Some content originally obtained via GPLv3 license and continues to be available under GPLv3. All other content is the sole copyright of Totara Learning Solutions. 

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