Early life and education
Mackinder was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England, the son of a doctor, and educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Gainsborough (now Queen Elizabeth's High School), Epsom College and Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford he started studying natural sciences, specialising in zoology under Henry Nottidge Moseley, who had been the naturalist on the Challenger expedition. When he turned to the study of history, he remarked that he was returning "to an old interest and took up modern history with the idea of seeing how the theory of evolution would appear in human development". He was a strong proponent of treating both physical geography and human geography as a single discipline. Mackinder served as President of the Oxford Union in 1883.
He received a degree in biology in 1883 and one in modern history the next year.