Need a Theme for your Moodle site? Something that works well on desktop and mobile browsers? Or maybe your learners are using the Moodle Mobile App and your want it branding to your organisation? Email helpdesk[AT] with your requirements smile

Updated in 2023 - for Moodle 4.x !

If you are interested in Moodle Theme development, but do not have a background in development, experience with php, and experience with Moodle Themes, then this MoodleBites Theme Design is for you!  It will give you a gentle introduction to Moodle Theme development, and provide a good grounding should you wish to progress further.

This course is 3 weeks in duration, asynchronous, and completely online. Each week contains approximately 2-4 hours work, although this varies depending on your experience with Moodle and themes in general, and how much extension work you wish to complete.

The course is focused on adapting existing Themes (standard Themes and plugin Themes). After successfully completing this course:

  • You will understand how Moodle Themes really work.
  • You will be able to customise existing Themes.
  • You will be able to use simple debugging tools and understand important aspects of the Moodle Theme development and testing process.

There are no live sessions, but participants are encouraged to participate in forums and to share their practical work for others to see and learn from.  Note that for this course you should be using Moodle 3.9 or later.

MoodleBites Theme Design


Gareth Barnard photo 2022

Your lead-facilitator for this course is Gareth Barnard, well-known in the Moodle community for his outstanding contributions to Moodle including:

  • Co-Moderator of the Themes Forum
  • Co-Moderator of the Courses and Course formats Forum
Current work:
  • Developer of the revolutionary Foundation theme (used on 800+ sites)
  • Current developer of Adaptable theme (used on 19,700+ sites)
  • Co-Developer of Campus Theme (used on 600+ sites)
  • Developer of Collapsed Topics course format plugin (used on 6,000+ sites)
  • Current developer of Grid course format plugin (used on 7,200+ sites)
  • Current developer of Theme Selector Block (great for developers/demo sites)
  • Developer of SynHi, a syntax highlighting filter (great for presenting code on courses)
  • Previous work:
  • Maintainer of the Essential Theme - THE most popular Moodle Theme plugin anywhere – still used on more than 3,600 Moodle sites worldwide
  • Developer of Shoehorn Theme - based on Bootstrap 3
  • Developer of Shoelace Theme
  • Developer of Columns format course format plugin (used on 70 sites)


This is a specialist course, with limited numbers, and starts on:

  • 1st February
  • 1st June
  • 1st October


MoodleBites Theme Design Level 1 is US$399 per person. At this time we are able to offer a discount to a special rate of US$299 but places are limited - so book early to avoid disappointment! If you wish to translate this value to your local currency please visit: All invoices are in US Dollars (Euro invoices available by special request). You can register for the course using the "Register Now" link on the Front Page.

Note that if you book Level 1 and Level 2 at the same time you can get an additional US$100 discount!

This is a technical course, designed for people with interest in development and Moodle Administrators. This course is not suitable for the average Teacher using Moodle.

Course outline

Pre-requisites: Participants should have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, PHP, Object Orientation, and be familiar with Moodle.

Technical requirements

  • The course will start with a guide on how to setup your environment for developing Themes including installing a smart web-server and Moodle site.  Please note that using a MoodleCloud site will not be sufficient for this course, you will need to be able to install or access a Moodle test site.
  • Your test/local Moodle site must be an up-to-date (current or very recent supported release) - at this time this is Moodle 4.0
  • This course is based upon Themes that use 'Boost' which is based upon the Bootstrap framework and is fully responsive.
  • This is not a theme review course, but rather a 'learn the skills' course that focuses on the generic and Moodle specific basics of web page generation and presentation.
  • The course will involve cloning and adapting the a supplied child theme of Boost (which is a Bootstrap based theme).  The Theme is responsive and work with any mobile / tablet / desktop with a web browser.
  • The course teaches skills using applied examples, and thus the principle of gaining the technical ability to cope with change when it happens.
  • The course recommends (and uses) FireFox. However Chrome, Opera, Safari and Edge should be fine.  The browser version needs to be up-to-date.

In this course you will learn the basics of Moodle Themes including:

  • Week 1
    • Foundation knowledge
    • Essential Theme HTML and CSS
    • Web browser development tools with an appreciation of debugging
    • Setting up a test server and environment
    • Essential PHP
  • Week 2
    • Theme structures 
    • Changing CSS in Moodle, and with external stylesheets
    • Custom CSS classes
    • Cloning Themes
    • Code style and checking
    • Asking for help on
  • Week 3
    • Adding fonts
    • Adding settings
    • Overriding to adapt existing functionality
    • Introduction to Mustache templates

There is no need to use a specific Operating System, or editor. The course is generic on these points and aims at basic concepts that will be present in any OS or development environment. Effort has been made to ensure that the practical tasks and examples given are generally applicable. Anyone attending this course however will need to become familiar with their own OS and editors. We cannot answer in-depth questions specific to your specific choice of OS.

*Please note this course outline is subject to change to keep pace with Moodle development.