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Statistical Packages

All our statistics modules are “hands-on” - you will spend time using computer packages for statistical analysis. The three main “general-purpose” packages used by social scientists are the following:


This is the package used to teach our basic statistics modules and most of our specialist stats modules. Stata combines excellent functionality with ease of use. It can be expensive to buy, but some attractive student deals are available. You can also use Stata in the University’s managed cluster machines, or via the DS-Remote service.


This is a package with excellent functionality, and the additional advantage that it’s free! It is a little more complicated to use than Stata, and you’ll need to download a“front end” user interface as well as the package itself. SSRMP provision is structured so that students start out with Stata, and those who need to learn R do so when they are familiar with the basic concepts of statistical analysis. Like Stata, R can be used in the University’s managed cluster machines or or via the DS-Remote service.


SPSS is easy to use, with a point-and-click interface, and is used in many undergraduate statistics courses. However, for analysis to be replicable, it’s necessary to write and save computer syntax – and this is difficult to do in SPSS. Only a few SSRMP modules require the use of SPSS.
A cheap student version is available.

Other packages

Some SSRMP modules use other packages, including Matlab, Microsoft Access and Netlogo. If you have any questions about these packages, please contact the lecturers concerned.

How to access software...

The University’s Managed Cluster Service Machines

These machines are to be found in the following locations:

  • The Titan Rooms, the Phoenix Rooms, the University Centre Mill Lane (all these may be used by individual students when they aren’t booked for classes)

  • Managed clusters in POLIS, Sociology, Education, Geography, History, Land Economy, and other Departments

  • Most Colleges have managed cluster machines

  • Some libraries have MCS machines


For a small fee (currently £5 per month), students registered at Cambridge University can access a range of software hosted on MCS machines, including STATA and R, via a remote connection from anywhere in the world. This connection is called DS-Remote, and we encourage all SSRMP students taking statistics modules to register for this service []. Please note that DS-remote is NOT available for University staff; this includes students who work over 200 hours per year for the University.

For further information email, and troubleshooting, contact the UIS Service desk on