Religious, moral and philosophical studies is one of the fastest-growing subjects in the school curriculum.
The number of candidates taking Higher RME rose by 428 to 1,751 up 32 per cent. That was beaten only by a handful of other subjects, but each involved smaller numbers.
There were also increases for equivalent exams at other levels, notably 41 per cent in Intermediate 2 (to 838 candidates) and a 30 per cent increase in Advanced Higher (to 153).
"I think we can reasonably say it's the times," said Martin Mills, a senior lecturer in the anthropology of religion at Aberdeen University. "People are more interested in this in a way that they weren't in the 1970s and 1980s, when people thought religion would decline.
"When people like myself were younger, we had to know about communism, capitalism and the Cold War that was what citizenship involved. In terms of knowing about the way the world is the political structures of the world - people interested in that are now interested in religion in a way that they didn't have to be 30 years ago.
"If I look at my students over the last six or seven years, there has been a marked upturn in interest in religious politics, but from the exact same people who used to go to international relations departments."