British Literature

(8 customer reviews)

From: $98.00 / month for 8 months

Grades: 9th–12th

Live Class:  Thu 12:00–1:00 p.m. ET

Dates: Aug 22–Apr 29

Price: $699

Instructor: Susan Spivey

See Reviews of Instructor Susan Spivey

Enrollment in this class is currently closed.

Course Description

British Lit Syllabus

British Literature is a year-long overview of some of Britain’s greatest writers. The course begins with early Anglo-Saxon literature (such as Beowulf) and concludes with more contemporary authors. We use an anthology of great works, along with a number of well-known novels. My hope is by exploring a variety of works by a number of authors, students will find one (or many) that inspire them to read more and to also gain a deeper appreciation for notable writers. Students have the chance to discuss what they have read during our live class sessions, as well as ask questions. Through a variety of assignments, students gain the skills needed to respond to literature in a thoughtful and mature way.

Course Structure

This is a discussion-based course, and students will be expected to participate in our weekly classroom chats. Each week, students are assigned specific reading and homework that relates to that reading. Our live virtual classroom meets weekly to discuss the reading. I also provide a lecture on the material the students have read, and an opportunity for students to ask questions and offer opinions.

In addition to short written responses that students will complete in their weekly homework, there are three longer papers assigned over the course of the year. These papers allow students to do deeper research and explore a topic that they find particularly interesting. There are also two creative projects assigned in this class, one in the first semester and the second in the final semester. During the course of the school year, there are five tests as well.

Upon completion of this course students will gain an understanding of the various literary movements found in British literature. Students will also see how historical events impacted writers and the works they created, will be able to identify literary elements such as rhyme, foreshadowing, flashbacks, etc., will be able to distinguish the unique traits found in a variety of literary genres, and will be able to analytically respond to a work of literature in writing.

Who should enroll?

This class is open to 9th-12th grade students. While a previous literature course is helpful, students without one have done well in this course.

Technology Requirements

  • High speed, broadband Internet
  • Webcam, sound card, and microphone
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures

Evaluation and Feedback

If students complete their weekly homework on time and answer the questions to the best of their ability, they’ll receive full credit. I expect students to ask questions when they do not understand something, and I am happy to respond quickly (usually within the same day) to their emails. I grade homework promptly and will let parents know if their student fails to submit work.

The larger papers and creative projects for this class are worth more points and are graded on creativity, as well as context and accuracy. Since students are encouraged to choose their own topics for these larger assignments, they have the ability to learn more about a topic that they found personally interesting. This has proven to spark outstanding work from my students.


Once you register your student for this course, you’ll receive a confirmation email from me within a week. If you have questions before registering, please feel free to email and I will be happy to answer your questions. If your student is submitting their work on time, you will hear from me at the end of the first semester when I send out grades. Final grades will be posted within a week of the course ending. If parents have concerns at any point, I am always available to discuss these concerns.

Required Texts


  • Prentice Hall Literature: The British Tradition, ISBN10: 0133666557, ISBN13: 9780133666557

Additional required texts are as follows. Any unabridged edition of each will suffice.

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

8 reviews for British Literature

  1. Parent

    Use Susan Spivey’s class as the “model” or “ideal” for other classes!! She has found that sweet spot — challenging and yet not overwhelming so that students have time to think through ideas, work on skills, etc. I can’t reiterate enough how amazing (and rare!) this balance is. She also provides great feedback on writing. When a student does not correct areas of weakness on the next paper(s), it is easy to give up pointing them out, but Ms Spivey perseveres and always points out those weaknesses specifically; so that it is “wearing down” my son to the point he starts making the changes! 🙂 It is so hard and yet absolutely necessary to get good feedback on writing. The pace and content of the class was excellent — not too much and not too little. Often classes have “too much” content so the student does not have the time to ponder the material, dig deep, and let it change them. Other classes cover too little and therefore are of little value. I can’t say enough good things.

  2. Anonymous

    Overall, I feel that the course was well-rounded. The workload was balanced, and the assignments were all enjoyable.

  3. Nina

    This class is also up there on my list of favorites. I simply adored the class content and reading material, and it brought me such joy to work on creative projects that allowed me to use my artistic skills. Mrs. Spivey helped me to expand and develop my writing skills, and she gave me some great feedback. Mrs. Spivey was also extremely sweet and loved to get to know her students. She encouraged me in my love of theatre and was genuinely interested in my artistic endeavors. Her bubbly personality matched mine, and I had a great experience.

  4. Debra

    This course is thorough, engaging and provides a reasonable balance to the school week. The British Literature book is full of interesting pieces of work that I never would have considered introducing my child to. I am very happy that he has had the opportunity to study this aspect of literature. The weekly critical thinking exercises encourage students to analyze what they are reading and help to solidify this ability through repetition. There are several creative literary projects throughout the year which add a fun element to the course. Mrs. Spivey’s class lectures are thorough, engaging and she keeps the course interesting. I highly recommend Mrs. Spivey’s British Literature course.

  5. Blair Drewell

    We were so pleased with British Literature with Mrs. Spivey when our
    daughter took it 4 years ago, we signed our son up for it. This class is
    the perfect balance – exposing the students to literature, making them
    think and engage without overloading them and taking all the joy of
    literature and learning away. Our kids have taken many online classes and
    it is hard to find that balance… most are either are “too easy” and the
    kids are not challenged to think or “too difficult” through workload making
    the kids resent school. Mrs. Spivey’s class is neither of these, and we are
    so thankful.

  6. Rachel Shey

    British Literature has been a great class! Not only did I get to read many great pieces of British literature, I also learned a lot about the history of Western Europe. Mrs. Spivey has a very engaging teaching style; she does not only lecture, but also asks the students questions and invites discussion. In addition, she also explains literary interpretations of the pieces we discuss, clarifying their meaning.

    A specific example of a subject Mrs. Spivey enlightened me on was English metaphysical poetry. When I first read the poetry and prose of John Donne, Ben Jonson, and the other metaphysical poets, I did not contemplate the meaning behind the verses enough to realize the special characteristics of metaphysical poetry. However, after attending class, I understood metaphysical poetry far better, and even enjoyed rereading the poems!

    Not all of learning with Mrs. Spivey has been strictly academic. One of my favorite experiences in her class has been the creative project, in which I illustrated characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While imagining them engaging in lively conversation as I read the book was entertaining, drawing them brought them to life in a way that I could not have done by reading.

    While usually the reading assignment is in the book, Mrs. Spivey also assigns books, plays, and online resources to read on occasion. In her class, I’ve had the opportunity to read many classics like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare, and Auguries of Innocence. Taking Mrs. Spivey’s British Literature class has taught me a lot, and surprised me sometimes with the prevalence of British literature references – ranging from ubiquitous Shakespeare to lesser-known authors like Elizabeth Barrett Browning – in everyday life. Whether reading newspapers or consuming pop culture, British literature is everywhere. I am very glad I chose to take this class and definitely feel like it has made me much more knowledgeable about British literature!

  7. J.S.

    Mrs. Spivey’s literature class challenged and equipped me for college in a way few other high school experiences did. The class, which I took at a homeschool co-op during my senior year, surveyed great Christian literature with a diverse and challenging reading list. Our class meetings were a chance for Mrs. Spivey to push her students to think critically about the material we read; she encouraged us to reevaluate our presuppositions and validated our thoughtful opinions, even when she didn’t share them. This open discussion stood in contrast to many high school classes that shielded authors from critique. Mrs. Spivey’s approach to in-class discussion helped prepare me for college literature and writing classes, where criticism of an author and their worldview is encouraged. Her love of literature was apparent in everything she did; from her enthusiasm in class to her warm invitations to continue discussions and reading outside of it, Mrs. Spivey was a hugely influential teacher who was instrumental in my decision to pursue English and writing as a part of my college and career.
    J.S. PA

  8. J.M.

    Susan Spivey does an excellent job of instilling the love of learning and literature into her students. I have had two children participate in her English/Literature classes, and even though they enjoyed reading before, Susan was able to unlock areas of interpretation that allowed them both to understand more fully what the authors are attempting to convey. Her writing assignments challenged them to think deeply and put into their own words portions of specific text. Susan also challenges her students by assigning projects that may not be in their particular strength. For example: Not only do the students write, but some assignments may require them to perform a dramatization or an art project. She realizes that not all the students have the same strengths, but she motivates them to branch out and try something new. Susan also wants each of her students to succeed and encourages them to use whatever gifts or abilities they have to do their best. Thank you, Susan, for using Literature to help my children to mature and flourish.

    J.M. PA

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Instructor Bio

Susan Spivey

Susan Spivey is enthusiastic about sharing her love of literature with students and finds tremendous joy in teaching. Susan earned her MA in English from Arizona State University and her BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland. She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for several years before starting her family. Susan also worked as a freelance writer for magazines and as a substitute teacher in public schools. She has taught English for many years and has been teaching for AIM Academy since 2015. When she is not reading a book, discussing a book, or teaching about books, you can find her in her garden, likely with a book nearby.

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