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I am applying for a taught MSc programme in software engineering. I understand that my SoP should be specific to the programme/institution I am applying to. However the guides I have read so far only told me that I should do some research. And not what I should look for.

So far I have researched the following: Academic interests of the professors, if there are famous professors (answer: no), rankings and content of the lectures.

I have also read the prospectus, but found that it didn't add anything new. I.e. it contained marketing nonsense, the list of lectures, administrative information and some pictures.

Now I am out ideas.

There is also the point that I, personally, don't care about famous professors, the academic interests of the professor or how my school is ranked. Of course that is because it's a taught course and only takes a year. In a research degree I would want to get a specific research topic.

I choose the programmes I am applying for to 70% on the module description, 20% on the location and 10% on if the title sounds impressive. And yes, I am serious about the last one. That title will be the first thing every HR person sees.

That means that this research does not reflect my personality very well.

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The institution-specific parts of your statement are like the garnish on an already-existing delicious plate of food. Your statement of purpose needs to fulfil its basic reason for existing, which is to explain to the people in charge of admissions why you should be admitted. You can do this by describing why you want to take the course, why you are likely to do well in it, and what you hope to achieve once you have your diploma in hand.

When tailoring this statement to a specific university, look for opportunities to point out areas where your desires match what the institution provides. Examples would be things like the department being strong in an area which is important for your career, or having links with employers in a sector where you would like to work. You've read the module descriptions, and that apparently forms 70% of your decision, so I suggest you start from there.

In short, to write a statement of purpose, you first need to understand what your purpose is. Then you will be in a position to link your purpose to what the institution does.

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