The Norman Conquest, The Viking Invasions of Britain, Anglo Saxon England, The Crusades, The Roman Empire, The English Civil War(s), The Reformation/Tudors, The French Revolution, The formation of the modern countries of Germany and Italy, Most of the Enlightenment...
It's a long list, full of some moments of history that have defined humanity, or at least this country. Frankly, I'd like to know what they think they're playing at. Some suggestions as to possible thinking behind it:
- 'We're running out of money. Better cut something that doesn't attract much funding.' Here's a sad thought; Sussex's attitude is simply a reflection of the funding priorities of education in general, where the arts and humanities tend not to get much of anything, because merely providing things integral to being well rounded human beings doesn't count as practical. Modern history attracts more research funding than older stuff. Just look at the spread of research posts over academic sites for proof of that.
- 'It's old. It doesn't really matter.' There is this weird idea floating around that recent history is somehow more meaningful than older history, which strikes me as A: ignoring the fundamental elements produced by older civilisations. The most fundamental things we take for granted, such as a belief in the rightness of individual freedom or the right to select governments, owe a great deal to civilisations hundreds, if not thousands of years old. B: ignoring historical theory, which has known for years that meaning is constructed by the historians. Even saying that older things are not having an impact is idiotic. Britain's political system owes at least as much to the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries as to the last few hundred years.
- 'Not many people are doing them'. This is probably true. Why is it true. Firstly, because the above assumptions are made in the National Curriculum for schools as much as anywhere else, so that again modern history is given precedence. Secondly, because modular formats for history encourage students to take easy options based on what they've already done.